Born of the musical interests of a young Richard Branson, the Virgin family of businesses have a deep seated history and connection to sound. Home to many underground acts of the time including Sex Pistols, The Human League and Culture Club, the Virgin name, by way of Virgin Records, grew into a brand synonymous with music, culture and up-and-coming talent. Virgin Voyages is still very much grounded in that early brand mindset, placing the discovery of rising talent front and center in the approach to music programming on board.
Part of that includes the brand’s DJ residency program featuring core talent throughout the Virgin Voyages experience, including the Bimini Beach Club. Some DJs set to be on that roster include talent like the recent Oscar winning, Mark Ronson as well as the much-celebrated DJ MK who has committed to one performance in 2020 and the Grammy-nominated electronic music duo Sofi Tukker.
“Sound has that magic quality of irresistibly drawing and uniting people together,” said Chris Stubbs, Senior Director of Sailor Experience for Virgin Voyages, who is building the brand’s Creative Collective for sound, and is responsible for the total musical experience for Sailors. “It changes our moods, invokes memories and alters our energy levels.”
Roughly 50 years, and 60 businesses after Virgin’s first actual record store was born on London's Oxford Street, it seemed only natural to have a record shop as part of the brand’s entry into sea travel. Voyage Vinyl will be stocked with a selection of both classic and current albums including special and limited-editions that Sailors can check out at listening stations. The shop will also feature magazines, headphones and record players.
“We considered Virgin’s legacy in music and injected some modern ideas with DJs that fit that heritage and culture.” said Michaelangelo L'Acqua, Principal at WhiteLabel Creative, one of the newest members of the brand’s Creative Collective, helping curate the musical programming. “The idea is to create sounds that travel with the Sailor throughout their experience, from vintage classics to the discovery of something new.”
The ship will offer another music forward space called, The Groupie, a modernist take on Japanese-style karaoke rooms. These futuristic-style, full-color personal pods were designed by Academy Award-nominated film director Roman Coppola, and challenge the notion of doing Karaoke in front of a room of strangers. Instead, they are designed as intimate, curved, sound zones perfect for those looking to share their vocal talents and dance moves with only the company of invited guests.
Musically, the core sound throughout the Virgin Voyages experience will be electronic, but with layers of classics and modern, including in-room music channels curated by Creative Collective members. In the end, the soundtrack is meant to create musical memories that evoke emotions that last, even if all the other memories from the epic holiday remain a little fuzzy.