At a time when most music consumption takes place on iTunes, Spotify or whatever portable device you happen to have on you (and most of us have several), it seems wonderfully novel to have to go somewhere to have your first listen to a new record.
That is exactly the experience Architecture in Helsinki is offering on the release of NOW + 4EVA, its just-released new album. The band has put together a concept store on the second level of Melbourne Central where visitors can purchase the new record, interact with a sound installation that will deconstruct the new songs and, of course, buy things.
“We wanted to release the album in a new and exciting way,” says Architecture in Helsinki frontman, Cameron Bird. “Music is such a multi-faceted art form and we felt that by creating an interactive, physical space for our music to be listened to, we can present the album with visual and tactile components.”
Built by Melbourne architecture firm Sibling, the NOW + 4EVA concept store will also stock exclusively made goods including: a capsule collection by Kloke, 3D Architecture in Helsinki edibles by Lucy McRae and Red Balloon, prints of the album’s artworks by Santtu Mustonen, bags by Witu, accessories by Dale Hardiman, Kester Black nail polish and socks by Tightology.
Bird explains the concept store has been a “love project” completely conceptualised and funded by the band. He admits that this presented some challenges, though they were ones worth tack-ling.
“We are our own label,” Bird states. “We chose to collaborate with different Melbourne makers and artists because I really enjoy the way that collaborations help you re-assess and recognise your own processes.”
“None of us had much experience with retail,” he adds. “So working to realise this image in my head has been a really interesting challenge.”
For an independent band, even one that has been around for more than a decade, setting up shop in one of Melbourne’s busiest shopping centres is a considerably big undertaking. But Architecture in Helsinki sees itself as populist, and wants to put a face to the new record, so to speak.
“I loved the idea that we’d be in the biggest mall in the CBD,” Bird says. “Of course we look like black sheep among the chain stores, but in many ways that is the intention. It means that our music and the concept will be seen by a really broad cross section of humanity.”
“Ultimately, I hope that what we've made will challenge people to think about what constitutes an album in what has become an increasingly anonymous retail experience.”
For the band, the shop is a way to see how people respond to a record they spent months working on in the confines of a specially designed environment. For visitors, this may mean appreciating the fact that a three-minute song involves a lot more creative work than the duration may suggest, without the potential distraction of the next or pause button on a screen.
Architecture in Helsinki’s NOW + 4EVA concept store will be open from daily Friday March 28 to Sunday April 6. The new album NOW + 4EVA is out now.
Now + 4Eva Concept Store
Level 2, Melbourne Central Shopping Centre
Sun & Mon 10am–5pm
Tues to Thurs 10am–6pm