Say, what you living about?

by Eugenia Kim

Anderson.Paak debuted VRC Technology at Mack Sennet in Los Angeles last week
“I know this is virtual reality but this is all real right here,” Anderson.Paak croons as he struts across the stage at Mack Sennett Studios during his Los Angeles showcase as the first artist to perform with Virtual Reality technology. A 360-degree camera maneuvered above the crowd—in lieu of a discoball—turning the spectators into spectacles; their turnt-up turned into a Google result unlocked with the right search words. VRC showcased their new technology: a viewmaster toy from your childhood, (those red binoculars that presented a semi 3-D image with each turn of the wheel) married with Samsung phones that invited viewers into a world where you could ride your bike into the skies over Crayola doodles and clouds.

Anderson.Paak—introduced by TOKiMONSTA—charged the crowd with performances off his album Venice from Steel Wool/OBE. Paak performed crowd favorites such as “Suede,” which was the track that caught Dr. Dre’s attention and landed him multiple features on Dre’s Straight Outta Compton soundtrack, and his super hit, “Drugs.” Schoolboy Q joined him onstage for Paak's upcoming “Malibu,” accompanied by the Free Nationals who lent a psychedelic funky sheen to the R&B sounds.

We waylaid Paak backstage to get some words of wisdom:

The theme of our upcoming issue is Motion Sickness, which you know refers to getting sick on a boat, but also a kind of sickness from an over saturation of social media. A kind of “sickness” from the dissonance of our real life and virtual life. You kind of touched on it when you were performing. Do you find this kind of dissonance to be sickening?

I go through this dissonance all the time. I’ll be with my family and I’ll realize we’ll all be on devices. My kid will be playing games, my girl, she’s Korean too and she loves games too, and I’ll be on my Instagram and I’ll realize what’s going on and feel urged to start reading books or something, anything else! It’s weird for me because I’m 29 and I’m part of that in-between generation where I remember when the Internet was brand new and only a few people had it, and it was slow as fuck, even when dial-up first came out, trying to watch porn, it was so slow, not even worth it sometimes. I remember that whole transition and watching the speed of the internet evolve and take over. I think its important to have both, a sense of being able to use the Internet, social media and unplugging and going back to pre-Internet media.

Music is a great way to have both, I connect with different artists, younger artists who are putting their stuff out there and I like learning and collaborating with them. But I also keep it old-school, I go out and buy music, go out and have a genuine experience, read, read comic books, and consume media before the Internet. I like to write, go out, go explore, I like to keep that foundation because I know I want to tap into new things. But overuse definitely a sickness, there are times where I’ll catch myself looking at comments, leaving comments while I’m driving. I lost my phone recently and I found I was more productive.

So your L.A. showcase with VRC tonight is part of keeping the old with the new?

Definitely, and I am always looking for new ways to show off visuals and connect with people who vibe.

With VRC’s immersive 360 technology, you can escape into a constructed fantasy. Are you into creating fantasy worlds or escaping into them?

Definitely into creating fantasies. I’m a married father so having an imagination is crucial; I’m still dreaming and creating goals, it’s amazing to me that some of them have come true.