The Story So Far...
Riverphonic’s story begins with a foray into London clubland, starting appropriately in a place called Heaven and ending up at the Brain.
I was knocking around as a music journalist and DJ (writes founder Tim Fielding), promoting clubs on the fly. The Brain was a vibrant space that helped to define the UK capital’s subversive scene in the early ‘90s. The first venue to feature live techno bands and DJs every night of the week, it was a haven for artists, writers, poets, situationists, new age prophets and hedonistic rebels who gravitated to its psycho-active juice bar. Artists from Orbital to Moby played their earliest London gigs there, but it was more than just a music venue, it was the archetypical cultural melting pot.
Setting up a label in the back office of Acid Jazz, I released ‘Live at the Brain’, the first album of electronic dance music acts performing live (much to the angst of the Pop/Rock skeptics who had dismissed the entire genre as robotic and faceless). Journeys by DJ soon followed: a seminal series of mix albums featuring many iconic DJs of the era. Journeys by DJ evolved the art of telling stories through music and pioneered a format for taking the performance out of the club and into the living room & the sound-system of your car. It turned out to be one of the pivotal innovations in music of the pre-mp3 era, helping to convert a mass audience to the sound of underground clubland.
Things scaled up in the States, which was ripe for its own cultural explosion, driven by electronic dance music and forces similar to those that fueled the tribal gatherings of the UK rave scene. From Brooklyn warehouses to Burning Man, familiar trends were surfacing - the same catalytic energy generated at the intersection of art, music, innovation and radical subculture. While brands were sponsoring Journeys by DJ to tap into the Ibiza vibe, a homegrown movement was erupting in the Black Rock Desert. Inspired by my early exploits in clubland, I was well-placed to seize the moment, with a strong set of insights and relationships that I was able to channel into some visionary projects that carried the torch for what is now a global phenomenon.
1993 - 2003 charted in Journeys by DJ album covers
Meanwhile, the big revolution was happening in Tech, which became a defining feature of the work that followed: Flux, a mobile content store for ‘digital snacks’ launched by MTV Networks, and then in8 ID, the world’s first music & image recognition app, which Verizon used to activate the Super Bowl and sell over 500m tracks. This led to Dropcast, a collaborative innovation project between Sapient Nitro and Google Creative Labs, to develop a publishing platform that activated places of interest by dropping tracks and AR messages onto relevant points on the mobile map. Music, media innovation & transformative experiences were consistently recurring threads, to the point where I fused them into a system for creative communication, and dubbed it ‘Riverphonic’.
As a writer, I learned the old saying: ‘Show Don’t Tell’. And as a music and events director, it became clear to me that experiences are far more engaging than pushing patronizing messages at people. The challenge was always how to do it at scale. Now, thanks to social media and connected devices, that barrier has eroded. And since the means of production have become democratized, it’s a very exciting time for anyone with a good idea for making something useful and enabling like-minded people to share it within their communities. Whether you’re running a start-up venture, a brand team or a big company focused on transformation, the opportunity is right there to craft something real that touches people and makes them feel they are part of your story.