What is the connection between plants and music, between technology and the evolution of how we experience music? These are the some of questions that drive electronic artist and music technology pioneer Christopher Willits, one of the founders behind ENVELOP, a three-dimensional platform that seeks to change the way that we experience music.
“I think that, for me, music is a space that’s created for the connection of people. It’s about the connection of all things and making a space that is inspiring,” Willits says.
Upon meeting Willits, his grounding presence immediately stands out. Connecting on a late evening at the Treefort Music Fest amidst multiple back-to-back appearances (including a talk at Hackfort, a stunning set at the Boise Contemporary Theater, a session at Yogafort, and a late-night DJ set), the artist was strikingly relaxed and in the moment.
Like many artists, Willits' journey began as a teenager with a guitar. “I was a complete luddite, actually. I didn’t know anything about software, I didn’t care about it," he explains. "I was getting ready to go into filmmaking and all these things clicked.”
The key was Max, a visual programming language utilizing a new technology (at the time) known as “real-time processing." He realized, “If I can do that with a computer, I will take the time to figure out all this stuff.”
Currently, Willits focus is on ENVELOP, a platform he has been building over the last couple of years with a team of partners based in Salt Lake City and San Francisco. Exploring beyond the current dimension of stereo sound and into three-dimensional technology, Willits and his team began with eight channels of sound at their Sunday “Sun Night” events. Since, they have built a mobile unit based out of Salt Lake City as well as another in a permanent space in San Francisco that utilizes 24 channels of three-dimensional sound.
Looking into the future of electronic music, Willits imagines this will change how audiences will experience electronic music, stepping away from a theatrical production and into a sonic experience that envelopes an audience.
A movement as much as a platform, Willits embodies the work that he creates: “This is the sound I want to create because, for me, it’s a language that goes beyond what I can say with words. This is an expression of the love that I have, an expression of the love that I am.”