Singers MIA and Janelle Monae have shared the stage during separate concerts on opposite coasts of America through the magic of holograms.
MIA performed in New York with a 3D projection of Monae while Monae sang on the West Coast with MIA’s likeness.
Both artists have ideas for how they might use performance holograms beyond their bi-coastal duet, which was sponsored by Audi to launch its A3 model.
The high-tech duet required more advanced 3D projection and video mapping technology than Tupac Shakur’s hologram debut at the annual Coachella music festival in 2012. MIA and Monae performed together in person to help create the holograms, but each saw the results for the first time onstage.
“I wish I were in the audience because I’m sure it looked cooler from the audience, but it felt great,” Monae said after closing her 40-minute set at Quixote Studios by singing with a hologram. “I felt MIA’s spirit up there.”
A life-size hologram of the British rapper joined Monae onstage with an original addition to her song ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ Wearing a spangled top and pants reminiscent of C-3PO, MIA appeared to dance and sing, her image at times bathed in coloured lights. Monae’s hologram sang a verse of MIA’s ‘Bad Girls’ with her at New York’s SIR Stage 37.
Neither artist got to see what their own hologram looked like, with Monae confessing: “I’m going to go online and see if I could see it.”
But both said they would try the technology again.
“I think if you can have artists be a hologram and you can access it, and you have them life-size, in your house, it could be kind of cool,” MIA said. “It’s definitely cool for us and it’s cool for me. I could be in 10 places at once.”
The technology has been prohibitively expensive and cumbersome to use on tour, she said: “I hope they get it together to the point that it’s accessible.”
If so, Monae has some ideas about how to apply it.
“I’d be honoured to experiment more with holograms and maybe make a whole band - but I love my band, I wouldn’t want them to be holograms,” she said. “I would do some experimenting with different versions of myself, playing different instruments.”
Not that either artist has the time to go hologram crazy. Both are touring in support of albums released last autumn: MIA’s ‘Matangi’ and Monae’s ‘Electric Lady’.
Monae also contributed the theme song to the upcoming animated film ‘Rio 2’, and covered David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ for a Pepsi global ad campaign.
MIA is busy with her fashion collection for Versace and her ongoing snarl with the National Football League, which is seeking $16m (€11.68m) from the singer on claims that she ruined the league’s reputation when she stuck out her middle finger during a half-time performance with Madonna two years ago.