How Mappe Of Is Coping with Isolation: Virtual Reality, Black Metal and 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

He's treating his 2019 album 'The Isle of Ailynn' to a VR livestream
How Mappe Of Is Coping with Isolation: Virtual Reality, Black Metal and 'RuPaul's Drag Race'
Photo: Matt Barnes
Mappe Of is a folk songwriter with a metal past, and his diverse interests have taken him in some intriguing directions. Last fall's The Isle of Ailynn mixed experimental sonic flourishes with lavish, fantasy-themed lyrics about a fictional landscape. Now, the songwriter born Tom Meikle is bringing The Isle of Ailynn to life via an ambitious VR project, which was 3D painted using Google Tilt Brush. The VR online viewing party will take place this Wednesday (April 8) via Facebook Live and YouTube Live, and will feature a live Q&A with Meikle and his visual collaborators. We caught up with Mappe Of about the ambitious new avenues he's exploring while in isolation.

What's your self-isolation setup?

My partner and I are lucky to be set up at home with plenty of supplies and music gear. We're both working on a few projects right now, some of them together, which is exciting, and that helps keep us sane. We're a good team.

Are you working on any music while on lockdown?

I've been working on putting together a special set for the NAC livestream series, which I'll be performing on via YouTube Live on April 29 at 7 p.m. I've been working on finishing up a few projects I've been working on for a while, a ten acoustic guitar ensemble composition, a black metal record and a pop record. It's been nice to have the space to let that stuff breathe.

What are you watching and listening to?

I've been listening to Daniel Lanois' Belladonna, Nick Drake and Hiss Golden Messenger a ton. I'm always listening to ambient and minimalist classical stuff like Nils Frahm to sleep to. I have also been in love with Matt Holubowski's new record Weird Ones. We were lucky enough to open for him in Quebec on a run of dates, and he and his band were so gracious. This new record is really special. My partner and I are bouncing between RuPaul's Drag Race and Community right now. We also just watched the films Horse Girl and Sword of Trust, which were both fantastic in very different ways.

How do you feel about the response to coronavirus?

Honestly, I'm a little surprised at how swift and wide-reaching the decision making has been. Leaders that I've had little faith in have stepped up to the plate in respectable ways all over the world. There will always be people who don't take these things seriously, but I've seen a lot of solidarity and consideration of the vulnerable, and perhaps I'm choosing to see those moments more, despite all the darkness.

Have you picked up any new hobbies or routines in isolation?

As someone in pursuit of music as a career for so long, hobbies seemed a little out of reach because I spent any spare time I had on music. Being relegated to the house has actually created a sense of freedom to explore other things, because the time is there. I've been learning to code and the various aspects of the 3D art workflow in Blender. It's allowed me to access another side of my brain in a way I haven't in some time, and it's exciting.

Find out what other Canadian musicians have been up to under self-quarantine with our Isolation Nation questionnaire.