Last year, VICE Magazine and Intel launched The Creator’s Project with the kind of self-generated hoopla that hasn’t been seen since the tech boom (outside of an Apple iProduct unveiling). A big event in New York on Saturday, June 26th was held, including big name acts like M.I.A. (QRO photos at the event), Interpol (QRO photos at the event), Die Antwoord (QRO photos at the event), The Rapture (QRO photos at the event), and Sleigh Bells (QRO photos at the event), taking over multiple floors of Milk Studios (a converted former milk warehouse underneath the Highline). There was also art and interactive displays, from contributors such as famed director Spike Jonze and others. And yes, there were free drinks (and, early on, free food & Italian ices).
However, it was also too crowded (especially in the upstairs room, where the photo pit broke down early on during Sleigh Bells, and people were packed like sardines for M.I.A.), too confusingly laid out, there was a tease of a penthouse for VIPs only that you saw if you rode the elevator, and it was hard to figure out what exactly The Creator’s Project was. All that, plus an air of ‘we’re doing something huge and amazing’ – a sign welcomed everyone to ‘Year One’ – that might work if you were an M.I.A./hip-hop fan, but perhaps not if you were an Interpol/indie fan. Conflicted emotions, to say the least.
But the Project has survived to Year Two, and a launch event for the second year in New York at 3LD Space on Wednesday, February 23rd seemed to set its sails in a strong direction.
First things first: no band played at this event; there wasn’t "a rock show," as VICE founder Shane Smith said in an aside while everyone was gawking and taking photos of Paul Banks and Daniel Kessler of Interpol, who were there, and even stood in front of a backdrop for photos (Kessler has taken over from ex-bassist Carlos D as the best-dressed member of the band, but the shy Banks wouldn’t even pull down his hood). It wasn’t too surprising that they were there, however, as, in addition to the 2010 Creator’s Project event, Interpol had also played Radio City Music Hall (QRO venue review) six days prior (QRO review). The invites (first sent to media & VIPs on the Friday before, then opened to anyone on the VICE e-mail list the day of) did promise "live music", but there was only an admittedly not-too-shabby DJ. After about an hour for people to show up a get a few drinks from the classy open bars (which had no tip jar, always a plus), everyone was herded into the seated theater to hear about what’s new for The Creator’s Project (the open bar was temporarily closed, just to ensure people would head over – made sense, but one couldn’t but be a little resentful at the theater for ‘closing’ the bar…).
After a good-but-typical flashing images opening/introduction (not quite The Intersect on Chuck, but certainly for the ADD types in the crowd), Smith, Intel Head of Marketing John Galvin, Kessler, and Banks all sat down at a table to talk with VICE‘s Eddie Moretti (who did accidentally call it, "The launch of Creator’s Project 2001"…). The big announcements included a new studio for artists to, "level the playing field" (from the intro), a big presence at the massive Coachella Music Festival in southern California in April (QRO Festival Guide), including designing the main stage, a TV series, and more dates and events across the world. Said Smith, "We were celebrating art in 2010 … when we dug deeper, we made a sort of philosophical switch, which was to actually be a patron of the arts." And the arts needs all the patrons it can get…
Moreover, it all actually explained what The Creator’s Project is. Whether because they’ve got a better focus in Year Two, more money, more organization, or just because no band was playing to distract you (and you hadn’t had enough time to get drunk on free booze) – or all of the above – it all seemed a lot clearer. The Creator’s Project seems to look to merge art forms, to go back to what ‘multimedia’ meant before it was just another buzzword (though there is certainly some synergy involved in this new paradigm…), to get artists from different art forms, genres, and styles to mix, as well as get artists from one side of the tree to branch out into another. There’s the massive, interactive Coachella main stage they’re designing, bringing art & architecture to music & performance. There’s also what Banks & Kessler have planned, "Burning Man meets Tron" (hopefully he was talking about the original, though the remake/sequel did have a great soundtrack – QRO review). And the studio to do it all in.
After the talk, there was an informal Q&A – and the bar was reopened. The rest of the evening proceeded like a usual not-quite-exclusive mid-week event party – Banks & Kessler disappeared, and the crowd seemed to be mostly younger folks who’d come for the free drinks. There were also some great hors d’oeuvres, including mini-burgers & mini-paninis; often the waiter with the plate would walk through the crowd, but with the plate high in the air, because he or she wanted to start passing them around at the other end of the room (thankfully not just going by while he was taking them to some VIP section), and you’d see people head right after him. And there were discussions about such weighty topics as The Jersey Shore.
A young man (presumably) with The Creator’s Project did approach your correspondent and another media person after the panel, asking if we had any questions for the panel. Not having known what to expect going into the launch, and only just starting to figure out what The Creator’s Project is, your correspondent was unprepared and declined (and didn’t think would be able to interview Banks & Kessler…). The young man asked who your correspondent was with, and after telling him, the young man, rather jovially, replied, "What is that – some rinky-dink operation? I mean, let’s call a spade a spade…" Now, we’re nothing if not self-deprecating at QRO, but it was hardly what you should say to someone in the media after asking them to interview your people. Perhaps he was a little drunk, perhaps your correspondent was, perhaps he was a little peeved nobody wanted to ask questions, but it did bring back some of those conflicted emotions that had come up at the original event – right after they’d largely been dispelled.
Regardless, The Creator’s Project 2011 launch party did seem to show a lot of interesting and exciting things coming up. They may have hitched their wagon a little too closely to Interpol (better than to M.I.A….), though the Saturday following [i.e., tonight], The Creator’s Project hold an event with Gang Gang Dance, who’d been a relative surprise standout at the 2010 event (QRO photos) at Santos Party House (QRO venue review). And there will be many more artists involved, musicians and others. And the whole thing came a lot closer to telling you what The Creator’s Project is.