London-based producer, DJ, and audiovisual artist Niall Dailly, performing under the moniker DAILLY, makes a monumental web3 debut with his genesis drop Metamorphic–a 10-track album presented as a 3D audiovisual experience using analog and digital modular synthesis and point cloud scanning. Metamorphic defined in the album as "pertaining to or characterized by a change of form” aptly titles a project, four years in the making that unfolded one layer at a time, always kept safe by DAILLY’s underlying intent–make something his 14-year-old self would love.
After a decade of worldwide commercial success performing as DJ Plus One in the electronic duo Jack Beats, and following an underground come-up as a world champion DJ and member of the Scratch Perverts, DAILLY began to sense the need for an artistic reset. Electronic music was headed in a heavier dance oriented direction–one that felt misaligned with DAILLY’s more experimental proclivities. “I'm good at following my gut and doing what I enjoy. If I try to do what I think other people want, I tend to get wrong,” says DAILLY. “The music that I like making is slightly more left field and weird. It was time for me to take a break and regroup.”
Choosing to step away from Jack Beats in 2018, DAILLY went back to the drawing board. “The only rules were to follow my gut and not let the hype of trends infiltrate the creative space in the studio environment,” says DAILLY. In search of how it felt to first fall in love with music as a teenager at the skatepark in his hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland where he discovered hip hop and the magic of subcultural belonging–DAILLY reconnected with his roots. “I needed to figure out what I was really into, what made me excited when I was 14,” says DAILLY. “You never get it wrong when you're 14. You might not know anything, but you don't give a shit. And not giving a shit sets you up for life. I was like, ‘I need to get back there.’”
After a year of isolated musical exploration, DAILLY felt creatively re-energized and had an album’s worth of beautifully weird music. His wife then gave birth to their first child, a life change that inspired him to keep writing. When the pandemic hit, the music industry “turned off like a light switch,” and DAILLY leaned into the project even further. “I started to discard the safer territory of the record, and experimented a lot more with modular synthesis.” The challenge of honing a new artform ignited the feeling he’d been looking for. Leaning into the abstract nature of video synthesis, DAILLY began to ideate the visual world of what would become Metamorphic. “It was that moment where I was like, ‘Alright, here we go. I'm super happy creatively with this. This feels like I’m 14, I'm experimenting, and the things I'm getting are cool.”
Sensing he’d only scratched the surface, DAILLY looked to web3 to take the project to the next level. “I had this vision that if I could imagine it in the real world, then I knew what I was aiming for. If I could find a way of implementing a 3D space, and give it an environmental setting where it feels like a parallel universe–something that isn't in the real world, but there's commonality between the two–then they can exist together.”
Exploring this “existential duality” between web2 and web3, DAILLY partnered with the dev team at Beets DAO and creative director Jeff Metal to help him bring the vision to fruition. But while experimenting with modular video synthesis in the context of creating NFTs, DAILLY hit a roadblock. “We got to a point where nothing was working. And I wound up meeting this 20-year- old guy, Logan Gomez, who's an insane 3D genius,” says DAILLY. “Within about two days, we sort of stumbled upon this visual language. We got so excited. It was the kind of creative energy when you're doing something new, but you're so stimulated, that you're like, ‘I have to see this through.’” Using a combination of hands-on and generative techniques, DAILLY and Gomez then spent the next six months sending source material and edits from London to a remote island where Gomez was based. “We were sending like gigs and gigs of files where one song tends to take about two days to arrive,” DAILLY laughs. “A labor of love doesn't cover it.”
Taking on the next challenge of condensing massive amounts of data into NFTs, DAILLY and the Beets DAO team worked closely with tech partners Entrine to develop Metamorphic to live in web3 while also maintaining the capability of existing in the real world. Each visual asset’s resolution is high enough to be projected on LED screens, onto buildings, or in gallery spaces in the future. DAILLY’s hope is that the technology can eventually work the other-way around, too. For example allowing touring acts to archive the visual element of their live show on the blockchain. “Show visuals and lighting cost a fortune. You put a lot of love into it, it goes around with you on tour, then it goes to bed, and it's done. There's a kind of shame there because it doesn't ever get archived,” says DAILLY. “Metamorphic shows that blockchain technology is valid for lots of reasons that we can start exploring and not be scared of. Web3 goes as far as your creativity can take you, really. And it’s data storage.”
In its execution, Metamorphic is both an archival mechanism and an alternative album format. The interactive 3D gallery allows web, mobile and VR users to navigate through an interactive theater and various gallery rooms–one for each of the 10 songs–where video synthesis animations and 3D scans made using Lidar tech create a rich sensory experience. Metamorphic features real-world 3D scans from various locations that hold personal connection to the music, as well as more abstract imagery punctuated by the glitchy, laser-clean sonic layers of each track surrounding its listener in 360 degrees of auditory immersion.
Presented as a proof of concept, DAILLY and his team are ecstatic to see the vision realized. “My goal has always been to get to the end of it and have something where people are like, ‘Yeah, all right, we've got a talking point. It's interesting.’ Hopefully people like it. But even if they don't, it's more like, ‘Yeah, but this is something I've not really been able to see actualized before.’”
Though building a protocol feels somewhat out of reach–for now–the interest and excitement around the project is already proving to bridge the gap between web2 and web3. “I think realistically, it's just a bit too soon without another bigger party with an awful lot of money to take it further as a business model. But even if it's just there, the reaction I'm getting from some of my friends, even the naysayers, is, ‘Actually I want to build one.’”
The album experience, launched on January 21, is available to the public for the next six months. “It can't just be for a finite audience that has deep pockets,” says DAILLY. “We also want to make sure that we're making this as broad as we can so we can build culture here.” While giving access to the public in the same way an art gallery may hold an exhibition, DAILLY also recognizes the importance of “normalizing the NFT economy,” and hopes to bolster the space by providing a project that justifies its price tag. Further adding to the value of the NFT, DAILLY has chosen to entrust his collectors with the future of the project giving album token holders governance to vote on whether or not the site remains public or be token-gated after the initial six month period.
Ultimately, DAILLY and Beets DAO hope Metamorphic pushes the experiential NFT album format forward. “I really just hope that in the next couple of years, this just keeps leveling up to the point that people want an album to come out on vinyl, on streaming and they want a mad NFT project as a format.”
Finding web3 on the path to Metamorphic exponentially expanded DAILLY’s creative capabilities and fulfillment. “There's this really great energy, and supportiveness. The real world for music often shows the worst side of human beings. Web3 is sort of showing a lot of the best sides, which is really encouraging.” Like the heady experience of Metamorphic, DAILLY’s excitement in uncovering the possibilities of a new world is palpable. “I come from a place where subcultural identity and subcultural happenings are really stimulating for me as a person and define who I am,” says DAILLY. “I didn't think for the life of me it would be web3, but I do genuinely have that feeling back. The spirit in web3 reminds me of what it was like to be around like-minded people when I was younger.”
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