Ray Li and Michael Ndubuisi currently reside in the vibrant city of Las Vegas and together they’re known as Veserium. Both have backgrounds in Engineering and a wildly ambitious mindset. When Ray and Michael combined their passions for technology and music, their revolutionary invention of essentially creating sounds out of thin air came to light.
Their ultimate goal was to create an “instrument” where you can manipulate sound simply by moving your hands in various ways. The duo set out to create various prototypes of gloves, some successful and some not. After roughly 6 years of perfecting the technology, they’ve recently announced the creation of Veserium 2.0.
At the moment, Veserium 2.0 is their most innovative advancement for music production.
Watch Veserium 2.0:
Michael and Ray have big plans for the future of Veserium.
The idea behind the project is more than just pushing the boundaries of music technology. The bigger picture is being able to bring back the human element into live EDM performances.
The lack of creativity and interaction of live sets in the industry is a problem that Veserium hopes to rectify. All too often it’s difficult for crowds to see and understand what’s being done to create certain sounds. Honestly, some DJ’s out there don’t have the best stage presence and that can make watching them play just downright boring. Ray and Michael offer more than a press and play performance.
Get to know more about how Veserium came to life in our exclusive interview.
I know you guys both have engineering backgrounds. How did the idea for this project initially come about?
Ray: In college I studied Applied Physics with a minor in music. At some point, I started to combine my two interests and began creating new electronic musical instruments. The first instrument I made was an electronic cello. However, instead of a bow, the cello had a joystick controller that let you control the tone quality of the sound. As I was thinking about how to improve that instrument, I started toying with the idea of a camera to recognize gestures instead of a joystick. Then I thought, why not get rid of the instrument entirely?
The initial idea for the gloves was to be able to “hold sound” in thin air, as if it were a tangible object that I could make bigger, smaller, muffle, or distort. We really wanted to create a new way to control music that would push the boundaries on how much control we could have on the tone quality of sound. Four years later, we have our current performance set up, which does just that.
Do you have any artists that inspire the type of music you create or are you focused on creating a completely original sound?
We’re definitely focused on creating an original sound. Our goal is to bring the “human element” back into EDM. The tracks off our upcoming album are going to be tracked live – and we’ll be keeping in expressive elements that you might not find in a lot of EDM music—things like notes that hit slightly offbeat, or modulations that happen in a way that makes the tracks “breathe.”
Of course, our sound is still mostly a subset of dubstep, and we definitely draw inspiration from other incredible artists who are making music today. We look up to Seven Lions, Adventure Club, and Alan Walker, for example. We’re also following in the footsteps of Lindsey Stirling, in the sense that we’re bringing a live element into bass music.
Recently, they’ve also been busy with collaborations featuring violinist Rob Landes. Their cover of “Friends” by Marshmello and Anne-Marie is already a huge hit.
Listen to Veserium’s remix of “FRIENDS” (feat. Rob Landes):
What kind of events do you guys perform at? Have you ever done shows or music festivals or do you plan to in the future?
We’ve played at a mix of different shows, ranging from festivals to clubs. We would love to play at big music festivals! Performing at EDC is one of our dreams.
Where do you see this technology going in the future? Could you ever see this being made as a product that the general public could buy and use on their own?
We’re music producers first and foremost, and we constantly modify our instrument so that we can better control the sounds that we want. Our suits are based on virtual reality technology, and in the future, we’ll likely be wearing VR headsets so we can directly see the virtual instruments we interact with. Think Daft Punk helmets, that are actually functional rather than just aesthetic.
While we would love to share our tech with the world, our focus at the moment is our original music. Maybe some day we’ll make it into a product.
Veserium’s live performance of “Awakening”:
Is Veserium a full time job for you guys? What kind of things are you interested in doing outside of this project?
Yep, we work on Veserium full-time. On top of being musicians, we also have to spend the time to develop our technology, so it’s certainly more than enough to keep our hands full! Outside of music, I love to hike.
What kind of challenges have you run into so far? Was there ever a point before the technology was completed that you thought it wouldn’t work?
We’ve run into a lot of challenges. Our first prototype looked like this (video below). It wasn’t very good. It took us several prototypes to get to where we are today.
Nailing our live performances also took a long time. Our first performance everything went wrong. We’ve had to work hard to get to the point where our gear is rock solid and we’ve had to practice a lot to make sure that we’re playing the right notes using that gear!
But the technology is only one set of hurdles, we’ve had to overcome a lot of failure as artists to build up our fanbase to where it is today. When we first started as a duo we knew nothing about the music industry, and refining the business side of things has been and continues to be a learning process. We still have a lot to do!
What kind of music backgrounds do you have? I assume you guys have some previous knowledge of music production before you got into Veserium?
Yep! I’m a self-taught pianist and composer. I’ve taken several years of voice lessons and sang acapella in college. In high school, I wrote an orchestral album that a lot of my friends described as “cinematic” and soundtracky.
Mike’s been playing the guitar for 6 or 7 years and started off making youtube covers of guitar solos. Both of us started producing electronic music in college.
I was looking at some old posts on the Veserium Facebook page and noticed you guys used to be called Spectrum. What made you want to change to Veserium? What is the meaning of Veserium?
Good eye! We felt the name Spectrum was a little generic. It didn’t really have any flavor. As a practical concern, it was impossible for anyone to find us under that name! You could Google “spectrum virtual reality musician las vegas,” and we still wouldn’t show up.
When we realized the problem, we set out to create a unique name. Veserium really doesn’t mean anything, but we thought it sounded cool. Kind of like a new element in the periodic table. We thought that represented our brand.”
Where are you both from originally? Where are you based now?
I’m from the Midwest. Grew up outside of Chicago, but lived in Columbus Ohio for a bit. Mike was born in Nigeria, and has lived in New York, Tucson, and Seattle. We both moved to Las Vegas to work on music full-time.
What can we expect from you guys in the future? Any specific long term goals? Any word on when your first album will be out?
Glad you asked about the album. That is definitely our biggest priority right now, and we’re super excited to be able to share that with you guys soon! Our album will be coming end of this summer – stay tuned for more details! Our long-term goals are to share our music with fans on some of the world’s largest stages. It’s ambitious, but we think we can do it.
Clearly, there’s a lot of big ventures happening for Veserium in the coming year. On top of their first full length album, they’re also planning a nation-wide tour that will begin this September. The future seems rather bright for these two industry pioneers. Stay up to date on announcements regarding this year’s tour and album via their socials linked below.