Giselle, Karina, Ningning, and Winter must be drained. They simply arrived in California after a long-haul flight from Seoul, in spite of everything. However the 4 stars of the Okay-pop lady group aespa have an essential job to do—and so they know the stakes. For one of many first occasions of their brief profession, they’re performing for a reside viewers. And never simply on any stage: the a lot hyped Coachella. Having launched within the thick of the pandemic in November 2020, aespa has solely existed in a world in disaster. However there’s one thing that units them aside: aespa additionally exists as 4 digital avatars, every fastidiously crafted to match their human counterpart, in a fantastical metaverse, Now, they’re able to show they’re extra than simply what followers have seen on screens.
Quiet and targeted, the 4 girls of aespa sit lined up on a sofa in a small lodge room the place they’ve congregated for a pre-Coachella photograph shoot. It may be disconcerting to see them with out their avatars, which seem in photographs and movies alongside their real-life inspirations. The uninitiated viewer would possibly do a double take. Aespa is an experiment, however it could even be the inevitable subsequent step for the music business: a contemporary method to bridge the digital and the true. Up to now, aespa has launched just a few singles and one six-song EP—however that EP broke information, debuting on the Billboard 200 album chart increased than any earlier Okay-pop lady group. Their first music video, “Black Mamba,” had YouTube’s quickest climb to 100 million views for a Okay-pop debut.
However the members of aespa are eager to be seen as extra than simply one other group. Their “metaversal origin story,” as Karina calls it, is supposed to seize the creativeness. The story of aespa, designed and launched by their Korean talent-management company, SM Leisure, is an formidable new piece of the SM Tradition Universe. Like Marvel or DC Comics, the corporate is creating an interconnected world through which all of its artists will exist—with complicated backstories, narrative arcs, villain threats, and extra. It’s nonetheless one thing of a sketch. “Honestly, we have been apprehensive to start with, as a result of this idea of ours is one thing new to our firm as effectively,” says Ningning. “However our followers actually liked it and are even creating memes out of it.”
The outcome: aespa is studying the idea of metaverse-native artistry concurrently its followers—every music and video one other piece within the puzzle. The aim is to “normalize metaverse ideas and have our followers and different individuals be just a little extra comfy with the entire concept of it,” Giselle says. It’s a journey that followers can go on by taking the time to observe aespa’s movies and eat their content material, past simply having fun with the songs. They need to make individuals suppose—in regards to the selves we current on-line, and in regards to the methods we work together with our digital identities.
A number of days later, Giselle, Karina, Winter, and Ningning climbed the Coachella stage in fight boots and miniskirts, with 10 minutes’ value of music and choreography. Their avatars flashed on the display behind them, however the focus was on the performers. The metaverse could also be a part of our inevitable collective future, however aespa is engaged on conquering this world first.
—With reporting by Soo Jin Kim/Seoul
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