Inside the Interactive Experiences for the Music of Jagwar Twin

CTHDRL crafts a pair of immersive projects

"What is it that you seek?"

That question launches a Mad Libs-style interactive experience touting "Down to You," the latest single from Jagwar Twin (aka, singer/songwriter Roy English).

Designed to immerse fans in the track's intense take on self-discovery, the project lets users at various points choose colorful emojis to create sharable stories and unlock limited-edition merchandise.

Creative agency CTHDRL based the experience on Mad Libs games where players pick words to fill in blanks and tell stories. Here, however, serpents, roses, trophies and other internet icons decorate personalized tales based on the song.

The track ponders the meaning of existence:

"What is it that you seek?
In you mind you must be it
Shine your light when you see it
Light the flame at the top of your head

Into your mind the Light will find its way from Heaven
But once you find it, can't unwind it with your head on
So listen to your heart and be the beat you're beating
Cause nothing ever changes, till it changes when you be it

You are the One

It all comes down to you
It all comes down to you
It all comes down
Heaven in the sky to the Earth below
Any way that you go, it all comes down to you
It all comes down to you
It all comes down
Heaven in your eye from the Earth below
Any way that you go, it's down
Down
Down
To you"

And here's my emoji story, which follows that lyrical flow:

So, what does the personalized text say about me, exactly?

"The power in this experience is that you get to decide what your story means," CTHDRL partner and co-founder Josh Hubberman tells Muse. "You will inject your own meaning based on your own life experience. It all comes 'down to you!'"

"That said, if I were to take a stab at telling your story ... you are passionate about your life, but were chasing love externally, which left you empty inside," he adds. "You pondered this emptiness, which led you to unlock your own mind, but only after breaking down the archaic systems that were in place before you. In the end, you realized that the real trophy in life is your children and that you can always discover your child-like mind when you live through their eyes."

Whoa, I'm deep! (No kids, though. That I know of.)

"The song is about the ever-expanding universe, and how we as humans can have any experience we desire so long as we first imagine it and then take action to achieve it," Hubberman says. "There's a depth to the music, but also a light-hearted side, so we thought the best way to play with this idea was to contextualize emojis, which hold so much more meaning than individual words in today's society.

"Because each person assigns their own interpretation to emojis, they were the perfect medium to create a Mad Libs-like experience where fans don't even realize they are creating their own story with every emoji choice," he says. "By the end of the experience, users feel like they've been given some weird horoscope reading, but also realize that they were choosing their own story all along. We hope to inspire them to see that they can create any story in life they desire."

The "Down to You" experience follows CTHDRL's lauded smile-triggered 2020 web-promo for Jagwar's "Happy Face" single.

"'Happy Face' was a song about faking a smile while the world is burning around us and wondering what happiness looks like," explains John Robson, also a CTHDRL partner and co-founder. "So, with that premise as the backbone, we forced fans to hold a smile while staring down apocalyptic videos to unlock the song before it came out on streaming platforms. Doing so unlocked a limited-edition merch capsule and some other goodies."

Though the team trod a different path for "Down to You," the projects "share many of the same underlying hooks that we have seen drive engagement and meaning," Robson says.

The new track dropped on streaming services recently, with the emoji experience promoted via Jagwar's social feeds to build buzz.

"Fans continue to wield more and more muscle when it comes to growing an artist's career," Robson says. "Organized fandoms often better understand how messages move through digital currents than labels. So, by building immersive experiences, you allow fans to create even richer emotional connections to music drops, enabling them to amplify the message on social media. Bottom line: Fans want to be part of the conversation, and this is their language."

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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