Veserium and the Future of EDM

Ray Li and Michael Ndubuisi, also known as Veserium, are leading the charge into the future of EDM. And yet you’ve probably never even heard of them. Watch the video below, and then continue on to read how this little-known music duo from Las Vegas is changing the name of EDM as we know it. 

I sat down for a Skype conversation with Ray Li of Veserium to chat about who they are, what they do, and how they see the future of EDM.

Julian: So I was browsing through Facebook and I came across an ad for Veserium. I watched your video and my mind was blown. Where did Veserium start? How did Veserium start?

Ray: It’s been a long time coming. We started this project 6 years ago. We started in college. Mike and I went to Cornell, we were both engineering majors. I was studying applied physics and he was studying computer science. We started this in 2012/early 2013 as a school project. I was just working with an electrical engineering professor and I combined my two interests in music and technology. I started making musical instruments. So I started with this electronic cello-type thing as my first instrument. And then me and Mike created a fader keyboard which was like a keyboard but with sliding knobs instead of keys. And then we created the first version of the gloves which we called the Aura (that was the original name). We worked on that for 3 semesters, making different versions each semester, which culminated in a final performance at school where we debuted it along with our school orchestra. And then after we graduated, we went our separate ways. We stopped working on the project. Mike moved to Seattle to work for Amazon and I moved to Ohio to work at a healthcare technology company. About a year ago we quit our jobs and moved to Las Vegas trying to do this full time and make music full time.

Wow. Mad respect dude. That’s an incredible story. Thats a big leap!

Yeah it’s definitely been a big step. It took us a little bit to get to where we are but I feel like we are making some good progress and I’m excited about where we’re going.

Yeah! It’s fascinating technology. I remember a few years ago Imogen Heap was working on a very similar idea. What do you know about competitor in the marketplace? Do you know anyone else who’s trying to do what you guys are doing?

Yeah, I mean Imogen Heap is probably one of the biggest names out there doing something similar. It’s funny, I actually almost ended up working with her. She was putting this PHD program together to work on the gloves with her and I applied for that. It ended up not working out. So Imogen Heap is one in terms of a performing artist who’s pioneering a new way of playing music. In terms of products and companies trying to create products like this theres a couple things out there. We like to think that were doing something unique in that we have a control scheme that is a little more sophisticated than what other people have. And we’re really coming at it from the perspective of artists and really trying to use it to engineer and use sound rather than as a company trying to sell a product.

Right. How does it work? You don’t have to give away trade secrets or anything like that. You watch the videos and it’s hard to wrap your mind around. Is it almost like an invisible instrument with specific commands? What is the magic?

I’m curious how you think it works based on the videos?

Well it seems to me like theres almost like a window or area of operation in which the instruments function along a certain X&Y axis and maybe some dimensions that are beyond my understanding.

Well thats actually pretty close. We interact with different “virtual instruments” in the air, and yea, there are various dimensions and parameters we control which give us pretty extensive control over the sounds. It’s pretty modular and we customize each performance depending on the song. Each song has it’s own set ups and within each song different virtual instruments. It’s built on this virtual reality technology and we’re probably going to go back into VR. In our earliest videos we are wearing VR headsets. We’re probably going back into headsets since we added the suits.

We have an Ableton user group here in Orlando and they’re having a meet up for a virtual producers studio with VR where you have the studio resources in the program, eliminating the need for a physical studio. You guys are definitely riding a wave of momentum that a lot of people aren’t riding right now. 

Yeah man we’re definitely trying to get on that. We’re trying to get on a couple of bandwagons. One is virtual reality. But the other is trying to bring back the human element to EDM. I feel like people are getting tired of seeing DJs on stage, not really knowing what they’re doing, and people are wanting something more performative and live. We’re trying to capitalize on that, not just in terms of the visual performance elements, but also in terms of the music and the sound, making it more expressive and alive.

I saw on your upcoming events that one of your performances is during the March for Science? Can you tell more about that?

Yeah, this is not our standard performance. It’s a rally that we’re performing at. Which if you’re familiar with the rally, it tries to be non-partisan, but it’s very pro-science and trying to get people to make decisions and policies based on evidence (like climate change). Evidence-based policies rather than superstitious or arbitrary policy. We got involved with that because they reached out to us. So yeah we’re going to be there and it’s going to be fun.

So what’s the future for Veserium? What are you guys aiming to accomplish? 

We’re really trying to create a new sound in electronic music. Our immediate goals are to put out our first album this summer, so we’re really excited about that. It’ll be more of an EP, 6/7 songs. Once that album comes out it’ll be a lot easier for us to really grow as musicians. Right now we’re musicians with no music on Spotify. We have two tracks and they don’t represent our sound at all. The big thing that I want to emphasize is that while the gloves are visually really cool to look at, thats not the reason we created them. It was really just to give us better control over the sound. It’s really about being expressive with an electronic instrument the same way a vocalist is expressive with their voice. Moving forward, after the EP, keep growing our fanbase and hopefully one day play at a festival like EDC.

Well I’m sure you guys will. I can’t find words for watching the video for the first time. It’s so… “The Future is Now”. I was at Okeechobee a month or two ago and I definitely think an act like your guys people would go crazy for it there. I saw a lot of these Ableton users and live-loopers who create stuff on the spot and I definitely think you guys are a strong competitor.

We hope so.

Well I think that answers all of my questions. Thank you for chatting with me today, I look forward to your EP release and seeing you perform live one day soon. 

Thank you so much Julian and have a great week! Take care.


For more information on Veserium, including upcoming events, ticket sales, and merchandise, CLICK HERE.