By Yanitsa Boyadzhieva

Music, design and technology collide in xside spotlight

Music, design and technology are very different industries, and yet they’re set to combine perfectly at MWC Barcelona 2020 as part of a first-of-its-kind event called xside.

Making its debut at Fira Montjuic, xside is set to bring together cutting-edge music, interactive digital art installations, industry discussions and, of course, delicious food in a new hub that puts creativity in the spotlight. The goal of xside is to explore how technology and creativity influence one another, asking questions such as how important is the role of creativity and innovation in today’s development of technology? How has technology shaped the world of creativity and imagination as we know it, and in what ways will it be able to unleash more possibilities, even those we cannot imagine?

Peter Brady, Business Director at GSMA, told Mobile World Daily “technology is ushering in a shift from a productivity economy to one that is built on creativity. Creativity, skills, ideas and the ability to express them all will be the most valuable asset in the near future, especially within the context of automation”.

The xside programme is hosted within the rapidly-growing 4YFN (Four Years From Now) start-up event – the place where investors, companies and start-ups connect and explore opportunities to grow together. The event is being co-curated by Sónar, an international festival devoted to advanced music, creativity and technology, who, for the first time in an MWC event will be adding DJ sets and live music to the mix.

Sónar Festival co-founder and musical director Enric Palau commented that, “for the first edition of xside, Sónar has curated an extensive music program featuring critically acclaimed DJs and artists such as Honey Dijon and Kruder and Dorfmeister. We're looking forward to this becoming the biggest after-work [party] in the world, where attendees can network and share ideas in an informal but stimulating setting”.

Ventura Barba, Executive Director at Advanced Music, SL (Sónar and Sónar+D), told Mobile World Daily “between them, Sónar and MWC are the two largest annual events in Barcelona and the worlds they serve, creative and technological, are colliding. They are two of the premier event brands in Europe with strong international recognition. Hosting xside within the 4YFN venue is an opportunity to explore the nexus of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship”.

More than 25,000 attendees, many of whom will come from MWC, are expected to attend xside’s three days of daytime programming from 24-26 February, which will include networking activities, a startup showcase, workshops, and conference talks and panels on art, design, e-sports, entertainment, technology and more, making for a full and exciting program co-curated by 4YFN and Sónar and with the support of content partner OFFF.

Speakers will include award-winning innovator Laura Tenenbaum; DJ and music pioneer Richie Hawtin; Google AI principal designer Matt Jones; Niantic Labs’ head of studio Alex Fleetwood; and Barcelona FC legend and serial entrepreneur Gerard Piqué.

One key theme throughout will address how the combination of creativity and technology will shape the next decade, including how they can be used in finding effective ways to stop the worst possible outcomes of the climate crisis.

Daytime guests can also explore a showcase of new forms of immersive entertainment, such as augmented and virtual reality and interactive art installations by studios including ProtoPixel, META, Paraddax, Broomx, Imrsv ARTS, Antiloop and Futura VR.

But the fun won’t stop at the end of the day. Around 5,000 guests are expected to stick around for xside night, which begins at 6 pm and will feature music performances and more from innovators and global artists such as Kruder and Dorfmeister, Honey Dijon, Folamour, Jamz Supernova, as well as a local line up of artists shaping the sound of Barcelona.

Richie Hawtin

Hawtin, who is set to take the xside night stage on Monday 24 February, told Mobile World Daily: “I'm a firm believer that technology empowers creativity. We always thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could also invest in or create technologies that help further stimulate creativity in our scene?’ In that same philosophy of bringing together like-minded people and helping, we created Plus 8 Equity. We invited people from our scene to put money into the pot and to allow us to invest back into our industry”.

Hawtin’s new audiovisual mix album CLOSE COMBINED has been released inside CLOSER, his free interactive mobile app. He explained the app offers fans the opportunity to experience his live recordings from different camera angles, and also to interact with different audio elements. Future app updates will include brand new performances, creating an ever-evolving audio-visual archive of material to interact with.

“On one level, CLOSER is to show what I do, to be entertaining, but also especially with the app to give people further insight, playful insight, into how I play and why, and also to be able to listen in to some of the separate audio streams, to see the components.”