Survios, the studio behind Raw Data (2017), is getting into the music business with their upcoming music creation tool/experience Electronauts. I got a chance to go hands-on with an early version of Electronauts at this year’s CES, and I left feeling hope for my budding carrier as an EDM artist.
Firstly, I’m not an un-musical person. I make up stupid songs for my wife; I beatbox in the shower. While I can appreciate music and even reproduce things that might be construed as music by sentient lifeforms (and probably some more musical animals), I am by no means a musician. Stepping into Survios’ hotel suite at the Mirage in Vegas, I was expecting to walk out humbled by my lack of skills. After all, as a non-musician, I shouldn’t be able to actually make good-sounding multi-layered music. That’s where I was wrong.
Speaking to Survios’ Marketing Director Hunter Kitagawa, I learned Electronauts not only makes music creation easy, but it actually caters to talentless turds such as myself (my words, not his). The system is entirely quantized, meaning every time you activate an instrument or loop a track, it automatically clicks on beat, making music creation insanely easy. That certainly doesn’t mean you’ll be able to make something listenable on your first try, as there are about a dozen different tools, all with their own options and sounds to try out, but it does help a great deal having even the simplest arrangement sound basically good.
You can loop samples, layer filters, arrange sounds, stems, loops, tracks, effects and remix it on the fly. For the demo though, I was thrown into a song selection that had a finite number of these things, although the system will effectively be open so users can import their favorite tracks, sounds, etc. To that effect, Survios is also adding in a greater selection of music from top artists thanks to a partnership with Stargate, the legendary Norwegian record producing and songwriting team behind music from pop sensations such as Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Coldplay.
What struck me the most about my 15-minute demo with Electronauts was how truly native it felt to VR. Flying on a musical spaceship through a neon world, which looked heavily inspired by Tron, my mixing board featured a number of tools represented as interactive objects. The UI isn’t dominated by buttons either, offering things like throwable ‘beat grenades’ and an orb-shaped drum set which lets you record your track to a sequencer. More talented users can go deeper into the music creation process by directly editing sounds on the sequencer though.
Electronauts also lets you record your music as an audio file, or record/livestream your entire set via video so you can show off your moves as you create. A multiplayer function is also on the roadmap so you and a friend can collaboratively create music.
As a first timer, I was left feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of options at my disposal, although I’ve admittedly never had the opportunity to play around with actual DJ’ing equipment. Even then, I think more-able musicians will still appreciate the hands-on nature of the experience which really made it feel like I was accomplishing something grand.
The studio hasn’t announced a firm release date yet, although they told me it’s slated to arrive sometime this year. There’s already a Steam page, and Survios is currently entertaining applications for their ‘Creator Beta’ which will launch soon for Vive and Rift owners.
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We have feet on the ground at CES this year, so check back for more hands-on, previews and all things virtual and augmented.