It’s not very often that music can be put into a completely foreign setting and still stand out, but the Chemical Brothers achieve just that in their new virtual reality music video for their shimmering jam “Under Neon Lights,” featuring St. Vincent.
“For me, the song ‘Under Neon Lights’ is about looking past material and mainstream desires and even questioning them,” says the project’s lead developer Jono Brandel in an emailed statement. “In this world, you need to find purpose and confidence from within in order to thrive. The story and the visuals are direct expressions of that thought.”
Brandel had been a huge fan of the Chemical Brothers since he first heard “Star Guitar,” another clip with visuals from legendary director Michel Gondry. It was quite an honor for both Brandel and his “Under Neon Lights” Director Zach Richter to put their stamp on the group’s illustrious career.
“It was a pretty surreal experience to get to marry their music to virtual reality,” Richter says in an emailed statement. “I find their music to have so many emotional layers. It was an amazing opportunity to pair a very complex idea to a song that weaves together so much emotion, energy and truth.”
“We’ve always been intrigued by different visual interpretations of our music, so we were excited to see what the Within team would come up with in VR,” the Chemical Brothers said in a statement. The group previously indulged in motion scanning technology for their mind-bending “C-h-e-m-i-c-a-l” video in 2016.
The music video features a cartoon girl character who literally grows up right before your eyes, in distinct evolutionary stages. With each level of development, the inner sanctuary of swirling, psychedelic color blooms within her mind. Viewers can interact with the world, merging themselves in and out of the inner neon sanctum and trippy outward environment with ease.
“This experience really came from these two contrasting places, the outside physical world and the world within each of us,” Richter says in an emailed statement. “To me, the world within (or the world of the neon lights) is more alive than the physical world that we experience every day. But I think happiness (at least for me) comes from being able to find a balance between these places of existence in every moment.”
“Under Neon Lights” is accessible through any browser-ready device, be it smart phone or desktop computer, although the best way to experience the project is absolutely with your VR headset. The track, cowritten by St. Vincent, is featured on the Chemical Brothers’ 2015 LP Born in the Echoes.
You can view the new music video below.