LOS ANGELES – A rock band made up of virtual apes, created last year at the height of cryptomania, now have actual musicians putting together their sound – a pair of sought-after producers who have worked with Beyonce and Rihanna.
James Fauntleroy and Chauncey Hollis Jr, better known as Hit-Boy, have begun work on a new album for Kingship, a band Universal Music Group formed as part of a bet it can generate revenue from selling virtual goods and services built around acts.
The hiring of artistic heavyweights marks a new phase of the project which started last November. Fauntleroy has won Grammys for his work with Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake, while Jay-Z and Nas have collaborated with Hit-Boy.
“It only made sense to bring in the best creators, producers and songwriters,” said Ms Celine Joshua, founder of Universal’s 10:22PM record label. “For me, that process led to James and Hit-Boy.”
Ms Joshua is the architect of Kingship, which consist of four digital characters from a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) called the Bored Ape Yacht Club. She has conceived a multi-year story arc for the apes, including album releases and metaverse performances.
If all goes according to plan, they will take the world by storm and prove cryptocurrencies and NFTs are viable tools for the music industry.
The people who own NFTs for Kingship get special access to a Discord server where they can talk to one another or learn new information about the group first. There are also perks associated with future music and performances.
A recent collapse in the market for cryptocurrencies and NFTs has complicated the plan, which Ms Joshua said is now in its second of at least seven phases.
Earlier this year, she generated US$1.5 million (S$2.1 million) by selling 5,000 Kingship NFTs. She also struck a deal with Mars Inc for a special edition M&M’s.
Fauntleroy and Hit-Boy are in the middle of working out how they want this group to sound.
After weeks debating the members’ personalities, they have at least settled on their instruments of choice. Hud, an ape with laser eyes, is a lead singer. Arnell, a mutated ape, is the DJ/drummer. King is the bassist and vocals and Captain is on lead guitar.
“They are a rock band with rock ‘n’ roll personalities,” Fauntleroy said. “We are still building out exactly how they’ll express themselves.” BLOOMBERG