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Image: Asahi Super Dry
Image: Asahi Super Dry

A world-first virtual nightlife experience is bringing Tokyo to London

Prepare to have your mind blown by spatial audio technology at this immersive event

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Asahi Super Dry

We may be inching closer to the return of IRL nightclubs – but we’re not there yet, London. The good news? There’s a virtual event coming up that might be even better than the real thing. It’s called Discover Tokyo, and it unites cutting-edge audio tech, digital art and huge headliners. Oh, and you can get Asahi Super Dry delivered to your house. Yep, we’re serious.

Coming to your screen on Friday March 26, Discover Tokyo is brought to you by Asahi Super Dry and Resident Advisor, powered by Club Qu, the creators of the world’s first virtual nightclub. It’s designed to celebrate the thriving, forward-thinking cultural scene of Tokyo, and it’s entirely free – all you need to do is register online.

Curious? We thought you might be. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect…

Discover Tokyo

How does it work, exactly?
Put on your best clubbing outfit: we’re going OUT. (Well, the closest thing to it; dressing up will help bring it to life!). Discover Tokyo is a 45-minute experience which kicks off in Sydney at 7pm, then stays on loop for 24 hours, so that everyone around the globe can experience it on the evening of Friday March 26 (the UK start time is 6.30pm). To get in, forget about queuing: all you need to do is register online for an event reminder then log on when the time comes. 

Okay, so I’ve logged on… then what?
It begins in a lift. Yes, really. Put on your headphones and you’ll be transported into a 360 interactive video which puts you in an elevator. You'll be transported from your home to a streetscape in the heart of buzzing downtown Tokyo. Then, you’ll encounter some digital art installations created specially for the event; think sculptures and projection art which interact with the music. Finally, you’ll head into the nightclub, where you’ll instantly be blown away by club music playing all around you, thanks to spatial audio. You can even head to the virtual bar and order an Asahi Super Dry to be delivered to your door (although you'll probably want to stock up in advance as beers ordered on the night will take a few days to arrive). On top of that, you can prepare for the night by getting yourself a Discover Tokyo bundle (which includes Asahi Super Dry, of course). Find out more about that here.

Asahi Super Dry

Sounds intriguing. Who’s headlining?
We’re glad you asked! DJ Nobu is undoubtedly one of Japan’s (and the world’s) top DJs. The techno pioneer will create a bespoke composition just for Discover Tokyo, as will co-headliner Honey Dijon. Another household name in the dance music world, this Chicago-born legend released tracks from her second album, Black Girl Magic, in 2020 to huge critical acclaim. Last but certainly not least is Kerri Chandler, pioneer of thumping Chicago house, who will also debut new compositions for Discover Tokyo.

To hear more from the DJs, scroll down below.

Tell me more about spatial audio…
You’ve really got to experience it to understand it – so search for it online and prepare to have your mind blown. This new sound technology allows producers to manipulate sound so that it feels like it’s all around you. Quite simply, it will transform the way you listen to music – and you can listen through any pair of headphones.

Asahi Super Dry

Okay, but why Tokyo?
Asahi Super Dry – which is a Japanese beer – is on a mission to bring cutting-edge culture from modern Japan to the world. As a hub for innovative arts and culture as well as flavour, Japan offers endless intrigue for curious souls. And right now, anything that transports us virtually to another amazing destination is very welcome indeed.

Register for Discover Tokyo for free now.

Hear more from the DJs
Photograph: Jun Yokoyama

Hear more from the DJs

We speak to DJ Nobu and Kerri Chandler about what it was like creating Discover Tokyo...

What inspired you when composing music for Discover Tokyo?
DJ Nobu (pictured above): The streets of Tokyo are wide and narrow, and sometimes when I drive from the east side to the west side, the scenery changes rapidly depending on the time and season. It almost feels as if I am dancing in a giant organism. I wanted to capture the sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly restless expressions of the city, so I recorded some parts live in one go. 

Kerri Chandler: The concept inspired me. I’m all for virtual environments and it’s something I really feel is the future. I’m looking forward to doing it more. The track I created for Discover Tokyo is inspired by all the times I’ve gone to Tokyo.

Has the fact that people will be experiencing this virtually, and not in the same physical space, impacted the choices you've made with your compositions?
DJ Nobu: This is the first time that I have participated in a project like this, so it was a trial and error process. I consciously controlled the subtle details in the sound of each part more than usual in order to keep the attention of the audience through to the end. I think this really helped me improve my production skills too.

Kerri Chandler: Yes, in fact it helped me expand ideas. It wasn’t so much creating just for dance floors and those environments instead you get to really experience sound and textures in a virtual environment rather than the physical club environment.


Image: Kerri Chandler

The pandemic has been an incredibly tough time for the music and nightlife industry – but it’s also accelerated new developments in how we experience nightlife. How do you feel the ‘Discover Tokyo’ experience reflects this?
Kerri Chandler: I feel it’s going to be the first wave of many amazing things to come. The next level, I believe, is going to be augmented reality and AI. This is only the beginning. I'm happy to be a part of this new emerging technology.

DJ Nobu: Before the pandemic, I valued the collective experience in physical spaces so much that I was always hesitant to even share the recordings of my live DJ sets. I also hated live video streaming. However, under the current circumstances, I decided to start residency at NTS Radio, and earlier last year, Rainbow Disco Club held one of the first festivals to hold a streaming in Japan. Because of its high quality production, I was able to experience the sense of unity through the screen, and the excitement of a party. It made me open up to the potential of virtual experiences. Not all of them are that great, but I have changed my mind about the possibility of having fun in the virtual world, and just like in the physical world, we could choose what we engage in based on our taste and values. I trust that Discover Tokyo will be something unique and further pushes the possibilities of virtual music experience. 

I have been cautiously resuming my activities in clubs in Japan since last fall, and although the number of people is limited, the enthusiasm of those who want to enjoy the nightlife is very encouraging and gives me hope for the future. I think the excitement we’ll share on the other side of the tunnel eventually will be explosive and emotional.

Register for Discover Tokyo for free now.


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