The Drax Files: World Makers [Episode 5: Engrama] – Rocking SL

For the fifth episode of his “The Drax Files: World Makers” series, renowned machinima creator Draxtor Despres takes a small detour from the central theme of the series: instead of focusing on content creators, he turns his attention to Second Life’s live music scene. This detour does not detract from the series at all; instead, it only strengthens the argument that SL offers excellent opportunities for creative expression.

The subject matter of this episode is Engrama, a musical partnership in both Real Life (RL) and SL between Argentine-born Pupito Helstein and his Spanish girlfriend Lakua Arriaga. Engrama are not the first band to embrace SL; like many that came before them, they have found a worldwide audience that adds an extra dimension to their RL activity.

In describing the band’s live performances in SL, Pupito says “We have no backing tracks, it’s all live. We prefer to play original songs; in fact we improvise in Second Life, we sometimes create even original songs.”

Engrama’s RL base of operations is a mountain village that is also their home. They have shaped a distinctive style, based on the post-rock genre, performing covers of songs by acts like Radiohead and compositions of their own. To complement their musical style, they have also developed a presence that is entirely their own; they have even proceeded to make their own stage sets and instruments to achieve this. More recently, they have expanded their creative in-world activities to prefab homes, furniture and clothing. And Pupito has tried to get his musician friends to get into Second Life, even creating unique avatars for them.

Draxtor begins the interview in a very poignant way, noting that the duo doesn’t seem socially awkward at all; an indirect, but sharp critique of the common stereotype that surrounds Second Life and its users, a stereotype produced by basement-dwelling losers in the soft underbelly of the internet, propagated through the media and sadly reinforced by the idiotic and often paranoid ramblings of certain extremely vocal people within SL itself. I’m actually glad that Drax has taken the opportunity to take a pot shot, even in this indirect manner, at this ridiculous stereotype and those who propagate and proliferate it.

As the interview continues, Engrama share with the viewers how Second Life. In Lakua’s words: “There is one magic thing in Second Life, when people send us messages like, ‘Hey guys, I heard Engrama music at the Colorado [Grand] Canyon on a trip!’” Engrama point out that in Second Life they can have audiences encompassing people from all over the world – from USA to Japan and almost every country in between. One of the most important parts of the interview is Pupito’s statement: “It’s real. I’m looking at it, no matter if it’s a computer or if it’s my window; who says what is real and what is not real?”

It must be noted that neither Pupito nor Lakua are boasting; they comment and describe their SL activities with great delight, which shows that even they are surprised, amazed and pleased by how their music affects people that they probably could never reach otherwise. As the video comes to an end, Lakua says “this is real interaction, Second Life is a parallel life, they [Second Life and Real Life] can go together, and sometimes they can cross.”

This is exactly the essence and the power of Second Life; we can enter this virtual world, cutting free from the constraints of the physical realm and create, play, express ourselves in ways that we could never hope to manage in RL, have fun, spend time with others. But it goes further and deeper than that: the virtual world affords us the ability  to reach out to others: to touch them; to be touched by them; to feel them; to be felt by them; as Exotix (Inara Pey) says in Her coverage of this segment of The Drax Files, “to share, uplift and help others, and be a part  of lives, and make them a part of our own in ways which simply cannot be achieved in the physical world.”

Of all the people that have covered the fifth episode of The Drax Files, Exotix (Inara Pey) has added something unique and very welcome: an interview (actually, the first part of a conversation that will continue) with Draxtor Despres himself, providing us with some insight into the motivation behind The Drax Files. For this, and for Her excellent commentary, I highly recommend that you go and read Her relevant post.




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