Revelland introduces new live music program: Immersion Playground

A temporary lab in which artists experiment to develop multi-sensory, immersive live performances

What happens if you give an artist access to a concert hall for two days including innovative technologies, inspiring new perspectives and an army of experts? With Immersion Playground, Revelland introduces a new program that gives artists full control to experiment with sensory stimulation to develop a distinctive live show.

Challenge accepted: KUZKO and Joël Domingos 

For the pilot of Immersion Playground, Revelland called on her experienced partners: No Man’s Land, a music platform, annual music conference and showcase festival, and Popronde, a nationally traveling music festival that offers up and coming acts the opportunity to present themselves outside their own region and to gain intensive touring and playing experience. No Man’s Land and Popronde selected artists from their networks who they deemed up for the challenge. After interviews with multiple enthusiastic candidates, KUZKO and Joël Domingos were accepted to the program.

“Our show is already extravagant. We have a prom night theme with choreography, theater and props. However, we want to improve how we present KUZKO to the public and really involve the audience during the show. We want to be pioneers and set an example through a distinguishing live show.”
KUZKO

The program: a brief summary

The interviews with KUZKO and Joël Domingos led to insights regarding their ideas, goals and dreams which were used to organise a two-day pressure cooker at music venue TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The starting point of the two-day event was an open and honest conversation with the inclusion board: a group of music enthusiasts with various sensory disabilities. They explained how they experience (live) music, what they pay attention to, what is important and what makes them happy. Their experience was used as a source of inspiration, after which the artists worked with a team of sensory experts – such as a chef, perfumer, lighting designer and VJs – to develop a concept during the two days. Following the two days, KUZKO and Joël Domingos wrote plans on how to invest their €5.000,00 budgets and how they’d invest additional funding after a successful crowdfunding campaign. From January to March they tested ideas, campaigned, rehearsed, adjusted and improved their live show. On March 27th, KUZKO and Joël Domingos presented their live shows at Sencity Festival 2023.

“I think the conversation with the Inclusion Board really highlighted a different side, namely people who experience your show completely differently. And therefore, it’s a tool that you can experiment with because we have spent a lot of time making our show an experience, but we have mainly focused on hearing and seeing audiences. And today it was very nice to hear from the perspective of hearing impaired, visually impaired and both hearing and visually impaired people how they experience a show and what else we could add.”
KUZKO

A limitation as an inspiration

Have you ever stopped to think about how a hearing impaired person experiences live music? Or how someone who can’t see, or sees less, experiences a live show? The two-day experiment in TivoliVredenburg was kicked off with an inspiration session in which people with a visual and/or hearing impairment shared their live music experiences with KUZKO and Joël Domingos. This way, limitations were used as a source of inspiration and disabled people were directly involved in the bottom-up development of the performances.

“Because I see less, I pay attention to specific things, such as the colour of the light and the movements of the artist. Things that artists don’t necessarily pay attention to but that can really improve the show.”
Floris Witteveen, Inclusion Board

Masterclasses: Tips, tricks and new insights

Following the inspiration session, KUZKO and Joël Domingos broadened their horizons through five different masterclasses. Jop Kuipers covered lighting and stage design, Bas Barnasconi pushed all band members out their comfort zones to use the stage and interact with each other in new ways, Naresh Ramdjas shone light on the power of taste and Wendy Paulussen presented the possibilities of visuals. Sense Director Gemma Hauptmeijer taught the artists how to dissect songs by mapping out themes and emotions and introduced them to the use of smell.

“There are masterclasses, people who can tell you everything about all kinds of things, but in the end you can decide what you want to implement, if you even want to implement these new insights. The past two days have shown me: there is so much more to a live show than music. It’s a journey, an experience in many different ways.”
Joël Domingos

Experiment, try, fail, try again and fail harder to succeed

Between the inspiration session and masterclasses, KUZKO and Joël Domingos made full use of the two fully equipped rooms, including sound engineers, they had at their disposal to play around and test new ideas. Joël and his band members experimented with the setup of the stage and how they interact with each other – which they were able to test soon in real life as their support show of Antoon at Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam was coming up. Filling in the emotion matrix during Gemma’s masterclass and brainstorming about smells and tastes that fit the themes of their songs, inspired KUZKO to come up with a ton of ideas including the first concept of the “K pills” they ended up producing. 

“Today we have taken a very critical look at what we have done so far and so we can now continue with great enthusiasm with a special interest in taste and smell. By spending two days in a bubble with external people who come to share very cool things with us, you were put back in the playground with each other and completely enthused about all the possibilities of our live show.”
KUZKO

After the two days at TivoliVredenburg, KUZKO started a crowdfunding campaign to top up their €5.000,00 budget with an additional €7.000,00. They received coaching by Amsterdam-based crowdfunding platform voordekunst, launched their campaign with an exciting video and successfully reached their goal way ahead of time. From January till March, both Joël Domingos and KUZKO tested ideas while playing shows, adjusted their plans on how to invest their money and prepared for the big day…

“I may not hear the right tone – for me it is often one big wall of sound – but I do hear the synergy and HOW the music is conveyed. Spotlights, energetic dances or subdued and small movements of the band members – if these things coincide with the song being played, this contributes to a total experience. Remember that this total experience can start as soon as you enter the room.”
Séverine Kas, Inclusion Board

Showtime! 

On March 25th, the 20th anniversary of Sencity Festival was celebrated at TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht. Sencity is a festival inspired by deaf culture and 50% of its audience is deaf or hard of hearing. It was the perfect testing ground for KUZKO and Joël Domingos to launch their live shows and see the direct impact on a highly diverse crowd.  

Are you curious and do you want to know more about the process behind the scenes? Check the 9-minute short movie below.

“What I take away from the past two days is that I’m going to take a closer look at my show, see what the themes of the songs are: What is the story I’m trying to tell? And how can I tell that in different ways apart from musically.”
Joël Domingos

Immersion Playground was developed through the Development Program of the Culture Innovation Fund Province of Utrecht and their financial support. 

All photos of Immersion Playground are taken by Emma Pot. All live photos of the performances at Sencity Festival are taken by Jessie Kamp.

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