May 5, 2022

Matthew Chaim: Songcamp, immersive digital theatre

Matthew Chaim is building a laboratory experimenting at the edges of music and web3.

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Matthew Chaim is building a laboratory experimenting at the edges of music and web3.
It's called Songcamp, and right now they're running their third immersive experience. They're coming together with a group of musicians, visual designers, developers, and at the end of this process, will be releasing new music under the moniker of a single headless artist called Chaos.
I've been personally completely nerdsniped by Songcamp and think it’s one of the most beautiful corners of our web3 ecosystem.


  • 1:08 - Songcamp a web3 laboratory
  • 3:27 - songwriting camps
  • 6:30 - imaginative language and lore
  • 11:12 - incentive alignment
  • 20:55 - selection and curation
  • 30:31 - immersive digital theatre
  • 36:18 - having fun
  • 38:03 - the power of IRL
  • 43:01 - what’s next
  • 51:37 - economic models for internet-native collectives

Sina [00:00:18]: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of Into the Byte Code. Today, I sat down with Matthew Chaim. Matthew's building a laboratory experimenting at the edges of music and web three. It's called Songcamp. And right now, they're running their third immersive experience. That's kind of a cross between a songwriting camp and a Web3 hackathon. They're coming together with a group of musicians, visual designers, and developers. And at the end of this process, we'll be releasing new music under the moniker of a single headless artist called Chaos.

I've personally been completely nerd sniped by Songcamp and think it's one of the coolest things I've come across in the ecosystem and in recent memory. I really enjoyed this conversation. We geeked out on different aspects of Songcamp's design and how they bring musicians together, so they have good creative chemistry. How the experience is structured at a high level. How value flows through the community and even how they make decisions. And so with that, I'll say no more, and I'll leave you to the conversation.

Matthew [00:01:30]: Songcamp, we call it a Web3 laboratory experimenting at the edges of music and this new internet. And so we run things called camps twice a year, and our camps are like the flagship experiments that we're running within that laboratory. And they are kind of, yeah, the birth child, the smooshing together of a songwriting camp mixed with a Web3 hackathon. That's somewhat of like a sort of watered-down version of what it is because it's not just musicians and devs, but it's kind of runs the gamut on different mediums. And we have a visual team, and we have a podcast team going. We are also doing writing. So it's kind of covers,

Sina [00:02:04]: It's awesome, by the way. I've listened to both episodes.

Matthew [00:02:08]: Oh sweet. Wow. You really gotten down the rabbit hole. I love it.

Sina [00:02:10]: Oh yeah. No, it's, it's a very fun podcast, like even,

Matthew [00:02:14] Oh great.

Sina [00:02:15]: and I think there's this bit where it's like recorded voices from a whole bunch of people who say chaos and, it just kind of like puts you into like, oh my God, this is the thing.

Matthew [00:02:24]: Yeah. Those are some of my favorite moments. The murmuration that Levi on the Chaos radio team has been devising up every week during our like Campwide calls, which have been super fun. They're even further evolutions of what we're creating. So, for instance, like when we say like, we create these cohorts to go and do these experiments, it gives artists the freedom to create and also create new collaborations with new people. And you're no longer Matthew Chaim or your artist's name putting out music, but you're sort of like immersed in this new group of people, and you're creating art together.

And what comes out is really the product of what you're creating together. It's not any one of your things. I think in like the Web2 world. I experienced songwriting camps; it's one of the, like they really opened my eyes to my creative potential. And that's why I sort of carried that name into this project. But they sort of stopped at the creation phase. We sort of had this creative explosion, but then none of that, like the artifacts that explosion would come out into the world. More often than not, they would just sit on hard drives.

Sina [00:03:28]: How does a songwriting camp in the old days work?

Matthew [00:03:32]: So well, they still run this way in a lot of places, but, and like, they are a lot of fun. I mean, going to an IRL Songwriting camp is like one of my favorite things to do. And yeah, like the ones that I've been on, at least there are kind of different forms. Some have like specific goals or whatnot. But the ones I've been on have been pretty open-ended in that they just curate a group of artists and producers, songwriters, and vocal artists.

And let's say for the one I did that really impacted me big in 2017, it was a Destination camp in Nicaragua. And we had a week, or we worked Monday to Friday. So, we had five days, and each day you were paired with a new group of people, and you'd sort of, each producer had their own studio, and the vocal artists and songwriters would sort of shuffle around. And every day, you'd be in like a new group, and you'd have that day, morning to evening, to create a song. Maybe we had like 10 hours.

And back then, I thought that was like an impossible feat. I was used to working only in Montreal with like a select few producers. And we would take like weeks if not months to create anything. But here it was like thrown into a structure of like five days. You're going to be a part of creating five songs.

Sina [00:04:34]: Wow.

Matthew [00:04:34]: And I was like bewildered by the fact that we actually did that and amazing music came out of it. But then we sort of all went our separate ways. And while we were really excited about the music and I thought all that music was going to come out naively. 99% of it never made it out in any sort of commercial release. And I think for a few reasons.

One, it gets stuck in this thing we call the music industry and splits and pubs and labels and blah, blah, blah. But the other one is sort of this conditioning around what the artist looks like. And this kind of gets to more of the question you're asking about this personified chaos that is like this headless band. Is like, I'm sort of motivated or incentivized to create music that I'm going to put out under my own artist project so that I can get famous. So that I can actually live off of my craft.

And if I make this song on a songwriting camp, that doesn't really sound like my sound anymore. It sounds like my sound crashing into all these other people. I'm like, I love that song, but like maybe I should try and get it placed in the music industry. I can't put that out as Matthew Chaim. It's too weird and too left field for my brand.

Here, we're sort of like becoming free away from that thinking. Because not only are we creating in this explosive way, but we're also like releasing it as that explosive collaboration. And in so doing, we're not any one of our artists anymore. We are this evolved sort of being. We're this network, and we're releasing that stuff together. So I think in Camp Genesis, we felt that way. We felt the freedom of that in Camp Electra, our second camp.

We started to move more into that because we created this songwriting camp, and it sprouted out of a world, a lore, and a narrative that we built in this fantasy world called Planet Electra. And we put the music out through that story. So now we were sort of leaning into the outlet, being a part of this network. And then this time, we're leading maybe ever more into it by creating this headless artist that is Chaos. And it's like this one figure. No longer like a kind of world or lore, maybe that too, but it's like, we can almost feel into this figure called Chaos. But if you open its head and look inside, there's like 80 people inside there

Sina [00:06:42]: Yeah.

Matthew [00:06:42]: working out, working it all out.

Sina [00:06:45]: I've noticed that you incorporate this kind of metaphorical imagery, and like, you engage the imagination through the names that you're giving to things, right. Even the acts for this latest Songcamp they're called like Order, Disorder, Chaos. Electra being its own world. Is that something you're doing intentionally? Like you could have very easily called this camp, I don't know, Season 3 and these acts 1, 2, 3, 4.

Matthew [00:07:19]: Yeah. I don't know. Maybe it's a balance of intention and just naturally. Like, I also spent a lot of time as I was like pursuing my music career also doing improv comedy. I got very involved in improv. And so like I guess in some ways, I got used to like telling stories on the fly. Like making these sort of things up out of thin air. And I think like in some ways that's necessary in the space of like; it's very ethereal. Everything's very ethereal. Like even when we say like, oh yeah, we're running a camp, we're running like a Zeitgeist cohort. It's like, what is that? Like, where is it? It's like, people like Discord? Like what is happening? Where is this thing? You can't like, grab it almost.

Sina [00:08:02]: Totally. Putting a clean label on things limits them by definition.

Matthew [00:08:07]: Totally. Yeah. It sort of like constricts it and, but in some ways, we want to create these sort of like containers to orient ourselves in this like vast space. And I think that's what we've learned overdoing these projects. Songcamp is like by giving people a sense of sort of where they're at in a project. A sense of like the container of space.

The team that they're working with. The times that they're working in. And I think by giving it, it's like own notified scale of time, like acts. Or its own like spaces with these teams that they're on or what have you. It helps like orient people and feels like they're really a part of something, and they know what their role is within it. And then the other part is just; maybe I'm on the more like, the other side is just, yeah. I guess kind of just from like an aesthetic perspective,

Sina [00:08:59]: Totally.

Matthew [00:08:59]: or branding, like I just,

Sina [00:09:00]: Having fun with it.

Matthew [00:09:02]:  yeah. I just love like, personally, like the season thing, like I see a lot of the season thing. So I just like get excited about using our own terminology. And we're also creating in such white space; I think like,

Sina [00:09:14]: Right.

Matthew [00:09:15]: by creating a, that's what you were kind of just saying right there. It's like you put a new label on it. It's like, what is this thing? It's so open to our imagination.

Sina [00:09:23]: Totally.

Matthew [00:09:24]: So that's like exciting. Yeah.

Sina [00:09:26]: I mean, naming is hard. Calling something Season 2 is just easy to do. And that's what we did for Zeitgeist because there were a hundred other decisions to make time.

Matthew [00:09:37]: For sure.

Sina [00:09:38]: But I totally resonate with what you're saying. And especially when we're like, kind of, I mean, if you are trying to go into unexplored territory and explore the space that hasn't been explored before, using this more imaginative language can just be an aid to that process. Right.

Matthew [00:09:59]: Totally.

Sina [00:09:59]: Like I think images pack way more kind of like information in them than like clean labels do. They touch something in your heart and spirit, right?

Matthew [00:10:10]: I think like also on this point is like something we spoke about as we were designing Camp Chaos was like, there's kind of this analog to Camp 2. Camp Electra was almost like us putting on VR glasses. Right. We were really going to this other world. This fantasy land called Electra, where music is energy and this planet is dying, and we have to go there to save it with our music.

It was like fully diving into the lore of something. So it was like, we were putting on VR glasses and going to another world. And then for Camp Chaos, we decided what if we, instead of put on VR glasses, we just put on like AR sunglasses. And we like stayed in Web3 land because just the process of what we're doing here, there's -

Sina [00:10:49]: It's crazy enough. Yeah.

Matthew [00:10:50]: Yeah. Like we don't need to go away from this. So we decided let's just like soak this like fragrance of lore in everything we're doing rather than needing to go to this other world. So we're still like we're building this headless band in Web3. We're doing things here and telling that story on Chaos Radio. Just trying to like soak in as much more as possible.

Sina [00:11:11]: Totally. And so, to this point of, you as a musician, the goal isn't for you to have some artifact that you can point back to as something you cleanly produce on your own as an individual. You are co-creating something with this group, and it's going out under the name of Chaos. Even the kind of incentive structures that you've put in place of using self like, and we can get into this in more detail. But an artist kind of self-rating their level of contribution.

And then using coordinate to do that. Like all of those things are putting people into this mindset of I'm a part of this collective. And it's like, how much did I contribute to this collective rather than another way that something like this could have been run which is like, who like did the best, right? Like who contributed the most. It's really like not putting people into that sort of mindset.

Matthew [00:12:15]: Yeah. I mean, that was a big part that we learned also from Camp 2 because we went the other way. We hadn't gone all the way here, right, to this fully network of one way, especially in the incentive models where it was more like the art that you're making. You're attached to the value of that art. And then, therefore, we had to like build all these bespoke sorts of pies that were split amongst the artists creating them.

And that created a whole lot of friction. Because we're sort of doing this sort of emergent network-based co-creation, but we're still playing in like these traditional ways of like exposing ourselves to the value of our work. And like an example of that is like, you might have an audiovisual piece, like an NFT being created by both the sound design team and a visual team. Those teams are working separately and then like plugging their pieces into each other. And there might be like four people on one side. Five people, on the other who, are going to be exposed to that piece.

And suddenly, if two different teams with different like microcultures now having to split a hundred percent pie and it gets real. And then you bring money involved. Like it gets very difficult. And then you have to do that 12 times. We said like, let's throw all that out, and let's just create one big pie, and you're just exposed to the network's value. And then we're sort of dynamically splitting that value through these mechanisms of self-rating our work. Plus, rating the work of others through the coordinated flow.

And so, it's an imperfect system. I just before here got off like a two-hour call where we're starting to think through; we have a 10% allotment to make up for mistakes in this imperfect system. So we're starting to think through, okay, how are we actually going to do that as we get to the end of this camp. But like, it's an imperfect system, but I think like you said, it does sort of help people, yeah, really feel like they're a part of this like bigger whole. And I think for most people, the experience is just like exciting enough and all of this is sort of like value on top of it. And most people, I think, are really enjoying that. But there are definitely like areas where the system is not perfect.

Using Coordinape for self selection is definitely not perfect. There are flaws in that design system that you can't even account for. But we really just went for like a flat design. We said, let's remove the central decision making because every system we incorporate is going to be imperfect. But in this one, you can't even orient yourself to what equitable means. There is no canonical lore, like no one has said -

Sina [00:14:42]: I mean, especially when it comes to art, right. Because it is subjective at the end of the day too.

Matthew [00:14:47]: Totally. And like, that's why at first we're like, okay, maybe we'll do this system, but we'll actually split these amounts based off of the musicians, this -

Sina [00:14:58]: What were some of the models that you considered? Yeah. What were the evolutions to Songcamp 3?

Matthew [00:15:05]: Well, at the end of like Camp 2, we did use coordinate for the first time. Sort of at the end of like this gratitude flow right at the end of camp. And we realized, like, oh wow, like people really resonated with that over all of that friction full splitting we were doing during camp. So we knew we wanted to lean more in that direction.

But during pre-camp design, we thought about doing coordinates, but we would create circles such that they were more team specific. So you'd have your musicians here, your devs here, your visual here. And we would allot different percentages to each. But then we're thinking like, man, then we're going to have to make this early sort of ossified decision on like what value is where. And you have to account for how many people are here versus how many people are here. And it sort of like restricts the emergence that can happen. That really happened in Camp 2, where we had allotted those, defined those at the beginning of camp, and suddenly all this urgent work started out.

For instance, we didn't expect like a scriptwriting team to form during Camp 2. We didn't think of that at the beginning of camp, but suddenly that need arise, and it did form. And those people ended up feeling like they were undervalued because the system wasn't designed for it. We removed that, and we just created one big circle with all 80 people in it. And so no matter what happens, whether new teams form and new pods happen, and this person starts working more, it's just all within one circle. That comes with its own challenges, right. Going through 80 people and splitting up your thousand gift tokens that's a challenge.

Sina [00:16:34]: Right.

Matthew [00:16:34]: Getting 80 people to do their coordinate circles on time, especially when four cycles over eight weeks. Talk about coordinate fatigue. So it's like, and it's kind of, and it's tough for the ops team, chasing people down.

Sina [00:16:47]: Right.

Matthew [00:16:48]: to like get their own money is like kind of frustrating

Sina [00:16:52]: Right.

Matthew [00:16:52]: after like the eighth or ninth time, you're hitting them up. So there's definitely like you sort of like shove, you remove all of those sorts of decisions from some central early party. And you put all of that responsibility on the network. And so there's like the excitement that comes with that. There are also challenges that come with that. One person sort of like doing it willy-nilly and maybe kind of screwed it up and not giving to the people they're working with. The people that they worked with just got screwed. So it's like the responsibility is shared by the network. Super exciting. Also brings its own challenges.

Sina [00:17:25]: Wow. Yeah. And so, how is that playing out? Like how has it been using coordinate and action so far? So you're towards the end of act two now?

Matthew [00:17:38]: We finished act two. So we're actually almost, so it's funny like the coordinate value flow stuff has been lagging. Like it's taking long to finish. So we're; actually, next Tuesday we'll finish act three, be going into act four of camp.

Sina [00:17:52]: Yeah.

Matthew [00:17:53]: But the value flows like we are probably sending act two distributions today or tomorrow. So like people just finish doing their act two coordinate. And like, we're going to have to turn on act three next Monday. So it's like, and it's, it's difficult, right. Because they're giving for act two, but they're already in act three. And so there's like a recency bias. Like you're going to give for act three, even though you're supposed to only give for act four. So staying in line has been difficult. And because of that and we feel it, and also it brings up there are all these personal emotions that come up.

Sina [00:18:28]: Totally.

Matthew [00:18:28]: when dealing with this stuff, I've personally felt that as the coordinates going, I'm like, holy****. Like we have to fix the whole design. Everything's wrong. Like things are like there's an anomaly.

Sina [00:18:36]: It's very visceral. Right. Comp always goes to like the heart of the matter, in some ways.

Matthew [00:18:42]: Totally, it's like very intense, but like we keep trying to pull back and be like, let the experiments run its course. Like any changes we make right now like, I feel like there's a huge cost to it because we sort of like committed to this very emergent, very untraditional thing. Like we won't know what this experiment means if we don't finish it. And if we change, it's like saying this huge opinion, right. It's saying things are going wrong, and this will make it better.

And if it doesn't make it better, or even if it stays as like, subjectively, it stays the same, I feel like it's net worse. Because we like changed it and now people can be like, oh, that moment changed something. And I don't know if. So I feel like, globally again, I feel like it's going well for most people. But now we're kind of delving into; we've decided now as we move towards like, hold back design. And how do we fix potential mistakes and do that? We're actually going to go do one-on-one interviews with everyone.

Sina [00:19:45]: Oh wow.

Matthew [00:19:46]: We're going to split up like, and all the high context sort of guides and going to do one-on-one interviews. We're going to gain rich context, like above and beyond what we already have, and be like, okay, like get a sense of where. And then we're going to come together and say, but that's going to be a difficult conversation too. Right.

Sina [00:20:03]: Totally. And going through a process like that, especially like, as you're doing this for the first time, can be a huge part of like the learning process for designing the next iteration of it. So that is

Matthew [00:20:16]: Totally.

Sina [00:20:16]: totally worthwhile. Like even beyond correcting whatever comp discrepancies there may be in this case.

Matthew [00:20:22]: A hundred percent. And I really felt that viscerally in the planning for Camp 3, I would say like, ironically, Camp Chaos is way less chaotic than Camp 2. Like we learned a lot, and I remember during Camp 2, I was like literally a chicken with my head cut off for most of it. But I just kept feeling like, okay, we're learning so much, we're learning so much. I was like holding onto that. We're learning so much. And then sure enough, like as we built Camp 3, I was like, oh my God, I really felt the gratitude of the learnings and mistakes. So we'll keep that going forward for sure.

Sina [00:20:55]: That's really cool. Yeah. Tying, into this, around this question of centralized versus decentralized and allowing things to like bubble up from the bottom up or designing them from top-down. Right. How have you, because this is something I've thought through with Zeitgeist, and I'm also evolving my thinking on it. How do you make decisions around who is a part of this in the first place? And then, the second part of that is how do you actually decide who is put onto these teams with each other?

Matthew [00:21:34]: You're talking like who's put into the camps? How do we,

Sina [00:21:37: Yeah, well, who at a global level is a part of Camp Chaos? And then

Matthew [00:21:43]: Right.

Sina [00:21:43]: maybe as a separate question, within the camp, how are these like two-week segments, how do people kind of get assigned between them? Is it just a totally like bottom-up process, like find who you're vibing with, and you go on work with them together?

Matthew [00:21:58]: The containers are pretty put in place. I think they're left emergent because of the value flow design like the network is open. So you do form your own team. Like there are ways of like valuing that. That's been its own challenge too. Some emergent things have happened where people are suddenly now on three different teams, but they still have the same amount of give. And so, like, they feel like everyone they're working with gets less relative to other people because they're working with too many people. So that's happened.

But the actual teams have been designed pretty like sort of top-down or at the beginning of camp. And people came into a system where they can really orient themselves. Which we learned a lot in last camp is kind of really needed, especially in like a big network. You have people come in. Like there were certain areas of last camp where it was really left, kind of undesigned bottom-up emergent. And people were sort of just like, what are we here to do? Like why, how do we contribute here?

So really, yeah, like this camp, so every camp has been curated, right. People apply to the camps. They fill out an application form, and then every camp has been such like, we have one-on-one interviews. And then we like curate into the camp. So it's very like high fidelity. We want to

Sina [00:23:10]: Totally.

Matthew [00:23:10]: get a vibe from everyone who's coming in. Can you play nice with others? Like, is there a good vibe there? And then also like the quality of music, and things of that nature are taken in too. And the first camp was really just, I mean, it was 26 people applied. It was just me doing that. And then the second camp was me, Mark, and Bryan, like three of us who curated the second camp.

And then this last one, we had like over 160 applicants, and we ended up creating a team of six myself and five others. All camp alumni were people working on Songcamp. I think it was like two of us were from both camps one and two. And then the other four were from camp two, and we formed like the curation team. And we sort of divvied up these people, especially on the music side.

The other teams, it was sort of like a shared experience of going through our list. We also had to do a bit of outreach. There are way more musicians in our community than there are devs, so that it was a bit of a different flow there. But for the musicians, we sort of split that all up, created shortlists based off like music and catalog and stuff like that. And then booked one-on-one interviews, mainly with the people that we didn't know. Some people we already knew because they were in the community.

And then through that like sort of shortlist, and we somewhat had an arbitrary number to start, which was, we are bringing in 36 musicians, and that was pretty arbitrary. And I presented it at the beginning, and it was sort of like a number that felt like high because it's a lot of people. But like not like we can't handle it. So kind of felt like Amelia, but we sort of just went with it, and we kept that constraint going. We ended up then also counting; we wanted to bring alumni musicians into this camp and stuff like that.

So it ended up becoming a total, like a net of 45 musicians curated into the camp.

Thirty-six of them being like new or like yeah, that sort of thing. And, then also at camp, we created teams. So we made it very clear at the start of camp. There are six teams in Chaos, and we gave them all names. They're all like Chaos Music, Chaos Visual, Chaos Build, Chaos Operations, Chaos Lore, and Chaos Economics. Those are the six teams in this camp, and you're on one of those six teams. There are some people that like sort of like have a foot in each.

For instance, our web designers, like kind of Chaos Visual and Chaos Dev. And then within music, too, those bands that's part of the chaos. They're kind of; what's interesting is they're contributing, of course. Well, naturally they're contributing to like one of the centerpieces of the whole project, but the musicians are also going through an experience. They're also almost experiencing something as like a user, if you will.

Sina [00:25:46]: Right.

Matthew [00:25:47]: That like, everyone's kind of getting it, but mainly it's built-in musicians such that the songwriting camp is built in a way that things get more and more chaotic and it's more soaked for them. So every other Tuesday, when we have our Camp White Call, we've presented either a short film that's been created by the curation team or

Sina [00:26:07]: No way.

Matthew [00:26:07]: like a piece of content that actually like soaks in lore, the process of them being shuffled into new bands and then the formation of the teams. And every two weeks, its gotten more sort of chaotic or more like less structured if you will.

Sina [00:26:24]: Wow. And so with the 45 musicians, when you were kind of bringing choosing who's going to be a part of this, were you already thinking about who would kind of aesthetically match with each other and what these mini teams were going to be? How are they, like that process of creating something together in a short span of time? Like I imagine, people need to have some creative chemistry, right?

Matthew [00:26:52]: Yes. Well, this is like the thing that I think I had some instinct for. But also like it has been sort of confirmed for me in the past like three camps. It is like musicians especially, and music as a medium, especially is like a highly collaborative thing. And it also, I think, has a lot of quote unquote, forgiveness, or freedom within it. Such that if you crash three musicians together and they just meet some level or threshold of quality and ability. Even if they're from wildly different genres, you can get something really, really interesting as the output.

I don't think the same carries to other mediums. Like the way we now run visuals. Runs very differently. People have very different styles. But we sort of have these kinds of like graphic designers or aggregators who are like bringing together the styles. And being able to like shift them and mold them to make pieces that fit an overall brand. Like you can't sort of smush things together the same sort of chaotic way in visual that you can with music.

So, but to answer your question, that's been part of the game. So at the beginning, no, like we're just looking individually at artists, like, is there music of that quality? Like, is it a vibe or that sort of thing? And then once we've curated in the 36 or the 45 rather, we then curated the teams for the first two weeks.

And so as you said, right, the first three acts, or first six weeks, we have Act one Order, Act two Disorder, Act three Entropy. Those six weeks or those three acts are the weeks that music's being made. The songwriting camp runs for those three acts. In the first act, Order day one, you were given your team curated by us, the curation team. Sort of like we are making the decision that we did try and gel people together that we thought would aesthetically fit. In the second grouping, we turned up the randomization in the sense that within those like, so we had 15 bands, right, of three teams each.

Sina [00:28:48: Yeah.

Matthew [00:28:49]: We had three houses. So three houses of five bands. It was almost like mini song camps within the Songcamp.

Sina [00:28:55]: Wow.

Matthew [00:28:55]: Every week, you meet with your House

Sina [00:28:57]: Man, there's [cross-talking 00:28:57] so much texture and depth to this.

Matthew [00:29:00]: I know. So within the houses, you had 15 artists, you had five teams, and that -

Sina [00:29:07]: Do the houses have names?

Matthew [00:29:09]: They are just House A, House B, and House C.

Sina [00:29:11]: Okay.

Matthew [00:29:11]: I wanted them to get names.

Sina [00:29:13]: So there is a limit, there's a limit to the madness.

Matthew [00:29:15]: Yeah. I wanted there to be a moment where like they had to create a name and use A, B, or C as like the first letter of the name.

Sina [00:29:21]: Yeah.

Matthew [00:29:22]: We just never did it, but so yeah, there was a limit. It was House A, House B, and House C with two guides each and 15 artists. And that created almost your sort of House, your family. Your more intimate space to listen to the progress of your music and da, da, da, da. In Act two, also the lore stuff is that Eris, who's the Goddess of Chaos in Greek mythology. She is the one doing everything to us, to chaos. Chaos is her concoction. And so Eris shows up every two weeks. And she's the one that pulls the switch on us.

So that's where we're creating this sort of content or artwork to signify that. So in the second two weeks, Eris showed up. And showed up with three different realities. And the Houses had to choose which reality they wanted by eating an apple, whatever they had. They had to click an emoji of a colored apple. And based off that, they decided which reality of randomized teams came about, but it was still House specific. So the Houses stayed intact, but the musicians within the Houses were now in new bands if that makes sense to you.

Sina [00:30:31]: Yeah.

Matthew [00:30:32]: Then, in the Entropy

Sina [00:30:33]: What were the three choices? Like how did the randomization happen? Was it a literal like randomization, or was it like,

Matthew [00:30:42]: It was literally.

Sina [00:30:43]: you picked cacophony. And so we're going to put together the people who just like are going to make crazy sounds?

Matthew [00:30:48]: I think we could have probably like, even more so, the exact randomizing agent a bit more. But we sort of just like for the first randomization. So for Act one into two, we just took, let's say, House A. We took the teams within it. And we created randomly. We just like chose patterns to create completely new teams. But we did that three times.

Sina [00:31:12]: Got it.

Matthew [00:31:13]: So there were three realities. In each one, people were working with new people, no matter what. But each one, you're working with different new people within your House.

Sina [00:31:21]: And did people get to see those three paths when they were choosing?

Matthew [00:31:25]: No.

Sina [00:31:25]: No. Yeah.

Matthew [00:31:26]: No, they just were given, so there's something actually called, there's a story about Eris the Goddess of Chaos. A story called The Apple of Discord. So how perfect is that? It's The Apple of Discord. So we dropped this image of Eris along with this piece written by Will, who's on the Chaos curation team, but also a great writer. And he's kind of the one who has like, along with the rest of Chaos curation has like a vision for Eris's voice. He's kind of become Eris's voice somewhat. Wrote this piece of like; there are three apples of Discord for you to choose from.

You could choose like the green apple of wisdom, the red apple of fortune, or the yellow apple of confidence, something like that. And they just had to collectively vote sort of like the most DAO stuff. They had to collectively vote as a House, which apple they want to take a bite of. And that like shot out the team. The new formation of teams. And then, because two of the teams chose the wisdom apple, one of them chose the confidence apple. In acts two to three, Eris showed up in video form this time and said no one chose the red apple of fortune. And so now I will use like fortune to like randomize the teams or something. Will would explain it better than I can.

Sina [00:32:40]: Oh my God. And in video form, you mean like animated? Like cinematic of some length?

Matthew [00:32:46]: So also on Chaos curation is someone named Yada. And she created this sort of [inaudible 00:32:53] video using just like, it was like kind of had some video effects and eventually showed the new teams. And she even like went on a hike and like took a bite of a red apple and like took videos of it and stuff. It was really cool. We're going to put it out on the Chaos Mirror at some point.

But what happened in Act two to Act three from Disorder to Entropy is the Houses were dissolved. So House A, House B, and House C no longer existed. And all the bands were now reshuffled. Chaos music won. So you were now on teams of people that you haven't even met because you haven't been on calls with them. So it's sort of like

Sina [00:33:28]: No one took the red apple. So now they get the full chaos thrown at them.

Matthew [00:33:32]: That's it. Whew. It's a whole thing to explain.

Sina [00:33:40]: Yeah. Oh, man. It's beautiful. And so for Act four, you said what's the [inaudible 00:33:45]?

Matthew [00:33:47]: Act four is Rebirth, and it comes on Tuesday.

Sina [00:33:50]: You also don't have to do any spoilers if you don't want to. This probably won’t be out by Tuesday.

Matthew [00:33:55]: We're also figuring out what Rebirth looks like because, really, the idea there is like the musicians have fulfilled their tasks. The music is finished, and we have 45 songs created within those first six weeks. And the idea is those last two weeks are really buffer for us to kind of put everything together and create this thing for the NFT release.

It's looking like we might need a week or two more to just like actually get launch live and all that. But yeah, Rebirth is, we're starting to take that term real seriously. And we have a call later today or tomorrow with the Chaos curation team to think through what it's going to mean to move into Rebirth. We're sort of like, building the plane as it's on the runway here. But we kind of want to; the real idea here is like we've run an amazing production facility almost for the last six weeks.

And now we're going to start to reorient ourselves into a network that wants to like roll this thing out in this amazing way. And so rebirth will kind of look like a reorientation of the network towards that. And we want to give, especially musicians who are now almost out of a job with Chaos, other stuff that they can do to help with that rollout phase. So yeah, it feels like kind of like Chaos doesn't end at the end of the camp. It sort of is born at the end of camp. So this Rebirth is starting to like we are reborn as one. We are reborn as the collective. So that's kind of a lure we're going for.

Sina [00:35:17]: Wow. I love that. It's definitely an art piece in its own right. Right. It's like hearing you describe this process that doesn't sound like you are building like an operational machine or like a business. You're building like a participatory like art experience that someone goes through.

Matthew [00:35:39]: So it's a beautiful way of putting it, honestly. And I think it's also like speaks to the intention of Chaos Radio. We kind of called the genre almost of what we're doing, Immersive Digital Theater, in the sense that like the process of creating art is art. And now we are capturing it because we are distributed, and we are doing it all online in calls like this, and everything can be recorded. And so, like you can actually capture the experience of what you're doing. And Chaos Radio is the ability to document that in like try and spill some of that lure out into like the public forum.

Sina [00:36:15]: Yeah. Are you having fun? How is it like being in the midst of all this?

Matthew [00:36:23]: It's good. It's definitely like a rollercoaster ride. I would say it's, yeah, it's quite volatile. Like it comes with moments of like deep gratitude and like surreal, like holy****. What's happening here? Also, just taking in the music, like the music's incredible. The visuals are good.

Sina [00:36:38]: It's so good. I mean, listening to the Chaos Radio episodes, I think especially the second one at the end it said all the songs on there were produced by the Camp, and they're really good.

Matthew [00:36:47]: Yeah. And we're also starting to do; today, we're having our second Chaos Spaces at 6:30 Eastern. And we're starting to just like bring on some of the participants to talk about their experience and also play two or three songs during the space. So slowly teasing them out. What's also cool is we're starting to see now especially, you see like all these different teams creating all this different stuff, but we haven't yet seen it all come together. Right. Really like the, especially the dev, the visual, and the music, like they're all working on their own. And then as they converge and like plug in, I think it's just going to be like, oh wow. Like, I can't believe we collectively made this thing.

But also, to answer your question on the feelings, it also comes with like crazy amounts of like intensity and overwhelm. And just like trying to make sure. And also recognizing like, even though it's a much flatter camp or network than our previous like, I'm still very much a central note in it. But we have way more central notes, which is wonderful. Get to work with more people and also learning to like, let go of areas right, that I previously held on and did myself. And learning to do that and really like yeah, sharing the kind of experience of it all. So it's definitely a wild ride, and learning a lot as you go.

Sina [00:38:02]: I believe it. How do you think about this question of this being a digital gathering versus incorporating IRL ingredients? Because one of my experiences with coordinating Zeitgeist has been, so to this point, it's primarily; it's like really been only virtual, right. It's like Discord calls, gather towns. Like that's the whole vibe, but I've really like started to appreciate that IRL is like, it feels like very underrated. And even

Matthew [00:38:37]: Totally.

Sina [00:38:37]: when there's someone who's in Zeitgeist, who's passing through town, and we just get together for lunch like that hour and a half long interaction totally changes the dynamic between the two of us.

Matthew [00:38:48]: Yow, dude, I feel that hard. I mean, last year was my first time going on, like to an MCON event.

Sina [00:38:58]: I was there too.

Matthew [00:38:58]: Oh, you were?

Sina [00:38:59]: Yeah. Missed you.

Matthew [00:39:00]: Well, next time we're going to have to meet. And it was my first time. Yeah. And also was my first time meeting Mark, who I work with closest at Songcamp. And he's been part of it since the very beginning. And so that was really impactful to actually get to meet in person. And since then, also like in FT NYC, we had like an IRL-like studio who we like rented.

We got; actually, I just tweeted from the Songcamp Twitter. And like someone gave us a studio in New York for like the day. And we got a bunch of people together and we just like made some music, and it was so powerful. So I think IRL is definitely very much in our future, and like yeah, really excited to plant stuff like that. Because it is like a whole different,

Sina [00:39:45]: Totally.

Matthew [00:39:46]: fidelity of experience.

Sina [00:39:48]: Totally. How I'm thinking about maybe weaving it in for the next iteration of Zeitgeist is to start with an IRL. Maybe the first week is everyone comes together in person and you just like get to like meet people. Get to know each other, and then you go remote for the rest of it.

Matthew [00:40:06]: That's really smart. And we've said it so many times on calls and stuff. Especially with the ops in Camp Chaos. Because like so many of our problems and challenges in the camp would be relieved if we were just like all at a camp in real life together. Just meeting at flag pool every day to go over stuff. Because like

Sina [00:40:25]: Totally.

Matthew [00:40:26]: when you don't have that, you have to rely on everyone in Discord or emails or forms or this. And it's just like,

Sina [00:40:35]: Totally.

Matthew [00:40:35]: You're playing like the push notification game because you're not in the same room. And so yeah. Would love to see what a camp looks like. Like eight weeks.

Sina [00:40:45]: Something that, in a meaningful way, merges the digital and the in person. I think there's probably a lot of room to explore there as well.

Matthew [00:40:52]: For sure.

Sina [00:40:53]: Yeah. Another thing I've been thinking through is how do you think about like the contributors to Songcamp? Are they, is this their full-time gig for this period? Or are they people who are contributing in some way? Because I think, especially in the crypto space, there's a good amount of like side project energy, but you can plug into.

Matthew [00:41:18]: Right.

Sina [00:41:18]: Right. And then, especially if you're running something that's on a timeline. And you want people to come in full time; then it has to line up with their life. Right. And that's just kind of like narrowing the spectrum of who can participate.

Matthew [00:41:35]: Totally. Yeah. Well, at the beginning, I mean, of course, it runs a spectrum, right? There are people like myself. It's like kind of 24 hours, just like focus. And then there are people on the long tail of like committing a very small amount of time. Even some musicians are able to just like contribute to their song and like do their thing and let the rest play out. And they don't need to kind of plug into other areas. So I think it definitely runs a whole spectrum. At the beginning of camp when we were doing sort of interviews and stuff, we'd tell everyone like this is a project that you should be able to commit six to 10 hours a week to.

Sina [00:42:09]: Yeah.

Matthew [00:42:09]: So that's what we kind of told everyone to. Some people have been able to stay within that range as they participate. Probably a lot of people, it's crept up higher than that. For some people, it's probably really crept up higher. But like there's also a very, very strong intrinsic motivation, I think, from a lot of people who are stepping up in that way. And of course, there's external too. Like we're all collectively exposed to the results of this camp, but we hope it goes super well, so.

Sina [00:42:37]: Totally. Six to eight hours a week is a good range because it's like above the threshold where you as a person who's saying yes to this. You're like; this is one of the main things I'm going to do in my life, in this period. Right.

Matthew [00:42:51]: Yeah.

Sina [00:42:51]: But it's also something that you can be like, okay, well I got my job, but I can still like do this on the weekend.

Matthew [00:42:58]: Totally.

Sina [00:43:01]: Yeah. Where do you think all of this is going? Like how do you think about the future of Songcamp?

Matthew [00:43:09]: That's a good question. Yeah, it's been a lot of fun in not necessarily having that all mapped out. Like that's the beauty of like this micro-macro almost of like the camps have like very clear output goals. And like a very clear sort of like constraint and container to do thing. But when you zoom out and look at Songcamp as a whole, it's sort of like we have this, what, which is run like experiments at the edges of music and Web3.

Sina [00:43:40]: Right.

Matthew [00:43:40]: But it's not like even a declared why. It's sort of like the why is like curiosity, artist, empowerment, freedom. Like it's not like to get to this thing. And it allows us to just have these stepping stones of camps to just keep exploring and like create sort of weird hypotheses. I think like, I mean, for me, and you put it so beautifully about like what this is like, this art piece, almost. This immersive experience. Like I am fulfilled by this as an artist.

I'm able to, like today, I have a session with a producer who I worked with a lot when I was fully focused on my own artist. We're only plugging in together for an hour. Because I just don't have time outside of it. But the reason I'm now able to do that and still be gratified is because my creative muscles have not atrophied. Like I feel like I'm using them in this project. So to me, like that's the goal is just like to keep making art and it to feel like making art.

Like one thing that comes to mind for me when you ask that question is like, how to scale? Where does it scale? Does it need to scale? Like, what does the next camp look like? To be honest with you, all I can really see is to the end of the year this year. And what that looks like is Camp 4 in the fall.

And so I'm starting very, very like 1% bandwidth thinking. What does Camp 4 look like? And then also, what does the Songcamp network look like? I tend to stay away from the language around DAO to refer to it. Again, kind of what we were talking about, about labeling things. Like I feel like there's some sort of cultural constricting around the term DAO now.

Sina [00:45:13: Totally.

Matthew [00:45:14]: And I almost like to keep it open canvas. So I've been playing just with like the network. What does the Songcamp network look like? So we definitely want to look at that later this year. And with that probably coupled with, it will be a Camp 4 in the fall. And just like to share some of my early thoughts about it. I have no idea if it goes this way; maybe it goes the exact opposite. But one question I'm asking myself is like, what does a camp look like with a thousand people?

And what I mean by that is not the way we've done from 12 people to 42 people to now 80 people and then a thousand people. I think more like what is a camp of like a hundred different cohorts of 10 people looks like. Is there a way to sort of productize or processify the creation of this experience of camp? Such that teams can sort of self-form and self-run as these sort of nodes within this wider context of Camp 4 that has some sort of, obviously like economic and incentive wheel to it. That also has an audience for it. So very kind of loose thoughts there, but that's like,

Sina [00:46:25]: Yeah.

Matthew [00:46:25]: an idea that sounds exciting.

Sina [00:46:27]: Totally. I also feel like, I mean, you can even play a role in people turning on their creativity. Or like producing something as an artist for the first time if a format like this exists. Right. I think one of the things that's very.

Matthew [00:46:46]: It is.

Sina [00:46:46]: powerful about hackathons, in general, is it like detaches you from this idea of I have to like produce the thing. Like I'm building a company that's going to like go on for X many years into the future.

Matthew [00:47:01]: Yes.

Sina [00:47:02]: And no, I'm just like doing a project for a month, and we're going to like shift it at the end, and it's a self-contained thing. And

Matthew [00:47:09]: Totally.

Sina [00:47:09]: just like, what are the numbers of people who, whether as a visual artist or as a musician like have that in them and just giving them that form factor in this like super exciting way would bring their expression through?

Matthew [00:47:24]: That's such a beautiful way of looking at it. I really love that. And yeah, it makes me think of the fact that, like, with these camps, at least the way they are right now like they're curated, but they're curated on the front end. Right. You get into the camp, and then you make a thing. Whatever you make is coming out. Like

Sina [00:47:43]: Right.

Matthew [00:47:43]: ii doesn't work like the way the music industry does today where it's like make a bunch of stuff, and we'll curate it on the back end. Like if your thing is a hit, it'll come out. So I think that's powerful for musicians to be able to come into this thing and create with this sort of freedom of like, I know I'm part of this thing. It doesn't go forever. It goes for a certain amount of time, but what I create will be valued because it was created. So that's it.

Sina [00:48:04]: And do you attach people's names to the songs that they contributed to publicly? Or is that also just kind of like totally fuzzed out?

Matthew [00:48:15]: I think like, we are still figuring out the metadata thing. But I think in the metadata of musical NFTs, it'll be in there. Who created or what the credits are to this music. But when you go on, like in terms of like the titling of the song and like that first kind of thing you see, like the artist will be Chaos.

Sina [00:48:35]: Yeah. That is a

Matthew [00:48:36]: or even playing with like, what does a Web2 release look like for this music? What does it look like on Spotify? What does Chaos look like on Spotify?

Sina [00:48:44} Totally like CHAOS could just be an artist. I mean, this is a model that you see in, like for example, this is like a bit of a jump, but there's this company called Deel. And it's basically an employer of record that operates globally. So if you're a startup based in the US who's trying to hire someone in, I don't know, France. And instead of going and setting up a local operation there and interfacing with like French tax laws and insurance laws and all of that stuff. You kind of become a client of this company Deel that has their own local operations all over the world. And they will end up hiring this person on your behalf. And like this person's payroll literally like shows up as like Deel Inc is paying them out. And this is actually a thing that Abraham put me onto. And it's, there could be very interesting parallels to this in the web free world.

Matthew [00:49:50]: That's really cool. First of all, it's just like a really cool idea and like company, but what is the connection you're making?

Sina [00:49:59]: The connection I'm making is like maybe there is an artist called Chaos, and this artist has a presence, has a relationship with like record labels and with Spotify. And that the interface that they see is just this single artist. But behind the scenes, there's like thousands of people who are like operating the different limbs of those like character.

Matthew [00:50:22]: Yeah.

Sina [00:50:22]: Kind of like Lil Mikaela right, where there's like a whole team, but then on Instagram, it's like one kind of persona.

Matthew [00:50:29]: Yeah. Yeah. It gets interesting because it's like, there's a few questions there of like, thinking. Yeah. We're trying to think through also. Yeah. What does a post Camp Chaos world look like? And, what you just said is a beautiful one. And then also like artists in this camp, they've sort of, I mean, they're going through something very interesting.

They're also taking like sort of this leap of faith or kind of create this sacrifice of saying, okay, I'm like sort of giving my music or my music energy to the Goddess of Chaos. I'm like going to put it there, and then I'll be exposed to this project. But like, it gets different. Like, let's say one of the songs that's created by these three distinct people - What if that song gets like a sync in an Apple commercial**.** Should like that revenue hit the Chaos split, or should it hit those three people's wallets? So

Sina [00:51:23]: Totally.

Matthew [00:51:25]: that stuff gets interesting. But like on theory, it's like exciting to lean into just the full radicalized like everything is Chaos, but

Sina [00:51:34]: Totally. Yeah. I think that's one of the very interesting explorations of, yeah, what if someone and like these things follow power laws. Right. So I imagine that songs follow the same pattern of like, there will be one of these songs out of like the hundreds that are produced that just gets 50 X more listens than the next one. And then, what do you do? Because on the Zeitgeist side, there are no kind of economic interactions happening between the participants.

And my thinking has been that like, that can get very complicated and especially like, one, I think it'll be interesting to detach from this notion of we're building companies to we're just like building projects. We're building like cool experiments that we're putting out. And some of these will take the form of like companies. Companies just like way too narrow the term. Like if you call something like coordinate a company, it's like kind of demeaning to what they're trying to build in a way.

Matthew [00:52:48]: Yeah.

Sina [00:52:49]: Right. But so anyway, I think there's just more thought to be put into what a crypto native kind of economic structure for something like that could look like. But let's say one of the components of it could be some sort of a token swap, right? Like I feel like something that feels right where you participate in this whole. You're getting value from everyone else. You're kind of like going through this experience together, and you share some of your equity with this group, and in return, you get some equity back from them. And it'll be interesting because if you kind of like play this out five to 10 years, there will probably be one or two or three of those projects that outperform everyone else. Right.

Matthew [00:53:37]: Yeah.

Sina [00:53:38]: And if you kind of put that question to people when they're first beginning that journey. How do people think about it? And I think it like, it hooks into something interesting in the psyche of each individual person, like how they kind of reason about that question. And I also feel like there's something like, I think there is something just beautiful and poetic that we're doing here. Like thinking of it on purely business terms is losing something very meaningful in this whole equation. Right. Like you're not like exchanging your tokens or your equity because it's a good business move. But because you're like going through this experience as a collective and you're going to like help each other out and everything like that.

Matthew [00:54:29]: Yeah. For sure. I agree. It's almost like in that sense like the token swap exists is like an excuse to care almost. Or not an excuse to care. It's like you already care. And it's like, how do I say this? It's almost like I relate to it in Camp 2. I feel like what we're trying to build when there's no money involved things are very exciting. Let's say remove challenges of life and all this stuff. Right. Like for instance, in Camp 1, we had no expectations. Right. We were just 12 people in a Discord wanted to make cool ****. So there was no friction. We just went and made cool. **** Right. As soon as expectations and money and all these things came into Camp 2 friction arrives.

Sina [00:55:14]: Yeah.

Matthew [00:55:14]: We almost want to like share in the value that we're creating, but keep it as if it's like Camp 1 and we have no expectations, and there's no money involved because that keeps things clean. So it's like, how do you stay completely aligned to what you actually want to do? What you actually care about and also introduce money? Yeah. And I think solving for that, like the spirit of play, is very much like at the center of it all. It kind of like, I was tweeting this the other day because I was listening to the music from Act one and Act two. And I was like, man, I feel like I could hear the fun people are having in this camp, in the music.

Sina [00:56:00]: Yeah.

Matthew [00:56:01]: Like it just sounds fun, and that energy seeps through. They’re like artifacts.

Sina [00:56:07]: Totally. Well, Matt, it’s super fun talking with you about all of this. I’m beyond excited about what you’re doing.