Infected Mushroom, an israeli electronic music band founded in late 1997 by producers, Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani, very recently completed their new psychedelic live show and unveiled it at Hollywood’s historic Avalon nightclub May 12th.
The show itself, “a trippy tour de force of audio and visual that incorporates the latest in 3-D mapping technology” is the creation of Vello Virkhaus, CEO & Director of L.A.-based visual arts studio V Squared Labs & Heather Shaw, a Production Designer for Vita Motus.
After signing onto the project, Virkhaus` concept was to 3-D map a visual journey onto two giant spheres which the band would perform from within. Virkhaus recalls making the joke that they were ‘..gonna make you //the band// two big balls!’ Presently his attitude towards the project has changed, ‘But now it’s like, fuck! This show is far more complicated than our original meeting.’
The challenge to coordinate all of the elements of the multi-layered visuals took 7 months to work through, and as promised, the show does have the band start within 2 giant fragmented balls.
Shaw goes on to explain that “from the beginning of the process, the guys //Infected Mushroom// told me they wanted to be inside of spheres, so I knew we were going to be projection mapping. But the challenge was how to make it 3-dimensional so that you could tell we were projecting off the object–a sphere without any ridges or angles lies pretty flat.”
Using CAD software to build up 3-D replicas and deconstruct the sphere into puzzle-like pieces resolved the problem of the sphere not appearing in 3-D. Once Shaw finalized the design phase of the project, it was sent over to Virkhaus to start mapping the accompanying media – the physical elements coming together as 2 steel framed pods spanning approximately 13 feet in diameter but constructed from lightweight composite material for touring.
“The concept usually with something like this is that you make a sculpture that’s a blank canvas and that can constantly be changed and turned into anything that you want it to be,” explains Shaw. “So sometimes a little bit less is more.”
After receiving Shaws design, Virkhaus got to work identifying ‘mood boards’ to capture the essence and style that Infected Mushroom is known for.
“I was looking all over the Internet at biology websites, Wikipedia, chicken larva, The Matrix, underwater photography, surgery on tumors, all kinds of weird stuff,” says Virkhaus.
“It’s an interesting progression. The CG animation for this was brutal because we did more than 60 minutes at 2K resolution. Because the pieces are attached with a Velcro of sorts, they’re in a slightly different place every time, so we actually have to go to each individual section for each calibration and slightly rotate and shift them around the central axis of the sculpture.”
Virkhaus continues, “To put lighting in our system and bring that to life was something we didn’t have any comparison to–I’ve only done lighting at one other event in Dubai and it was nothing like what we’ve done now.”
Virkhaus and Shaw are no strangers to high-profile projects–constructing stages for American Idol among other notable credentials–but both agree that working on Infected Mushroom’s stage production was a unique endeavor that easily provides a glimpse into the future of how far a concert’s limitations can and will be pushed.
“We love making these show experiences, and I think we’re just going further and further into the most immersive presentations possible using all the mediums available,” says Virkhaus. “Every time we do one of these productions we’re learning and developing new software and new techniques along the way to keep advancing what we’re doing–continuing with the experimental is the only thing that makes it exciting for me.”
With Infected Mushroom’s 8th full-length studio album, ‘Army of Mushrooms,’ released May 8th by Dim Mak Records, the aforementioned May 12th debut performance at Hollywood’s Avalon Nightclub made perfect sense for it’s global premiere.
Infected Mushroom will perform their new psychedelic stage show as one of the headlining performers at the World Electronic Music Festival [WEMF] this summer [August 17 – 19] in Madawaska (South Algonquin Park) – at the time of publication WEMF was the only Canadian tour date this summer.
‘Army of Mushrooms‘ features 13 tracks including 11 brand new studio creations, a remix of ‘The Messenger’ one of Infected Mushroom’s tracks from 2000, and an Infected Mushroom cover of ‘The Pretender’ by Foo Fighters. The album debuted in the 71st position on the Billboard: Canadian Albums Chart and it can be purchased/sampled from beatport.