In an attempt to recapture what ravers miss IRL, virtual clubs popped up across the globe — among them, the game-changing Club Matryoshka. With thousands of subscribers and attendees spoiled with genre-defying lineups, the Manila-based online venue broke down barriers, and paved the way for truly inclusive shows.
Following its compelling traction, its makers recently announced its indefinite hiatus.
“The main decision to put it to rest was mainly and collectively because of our lack of time to work on it. Life had started to go on for all of us and our real-life responsibilities started to catch up with us,” explains co-founder, Jorge Wieneke V. “I don’t think a lot of people realize how much time, work and effort is actually put into our events. I mean even we didn't realize how burnt out we were getting ‘til we were actually exhausted and started to avoid and spend less time on Minecraft. It just started to feel like work and that’s when it started to lose its magic for me and maybe for the rest too.”
From building tediously designed experiences in its Minecraft-hosted server to dealing with numerous artists and collectives operating in different time zones, the decision to indefinitely close down their doors wasn’t one that was easy to make, but became the most reasonable.
It takes a village — and countless hours
“I think one of the things we always struggled with was trying to ramp up every event. It seemed when we started gaining a lot of traction we felt pressured to constantly do something bigger than the last. This probably lead to our decision to go on cryo-sleep too, as we got busy, but we also weren’t sure what next event to do to give our audience justice,” Wax Roldan shares.
Co-founder Luis Montales adds: “People underestimate how many hours goes into the entire process. Conceptualizing alone takes us dozens of hours. Building, probably in the hundreds. Playtesting is another couple.”
Club Matryoshka conceptualized pioneering projects and welcomed a slew of eager international crews. With an onslaught of excited clients driven to differently showcase their music and a team who powered through finding a balance between school, work and real life, pursuing a heavily detailed feat can take its toll.
Streamer and co-founder JP Del Mundo notes: “One struggle we had was how to price our services fairly. Since there was very little precedent for the kind of work that we did, when clients would approach us to put on events for them, we would usually just go with whatever budget they had. A lot of the time we would also go over our allotted hours for working on some events, because we wanted the show experience to be as good as possible.”
“We always wanted to put up the best shows and best experiences for people, but all that effort would take a mental toll in the forms of lack of sleep or burnouts,” Tamia Reodica added.
The road less travelled
There’s a certain level of madness in devoting hours and skipping sleep to build a virtual escape that constantly aims to top itself after every experience. However, the Filipinos behind the beloved space have reframed minds on the infinite possibilities of organizing immersive shows. With it, comes moments the team recall fondly.
“I definitely think every event was special to me but I would say that either Infinite Summer or our second collaboration with CTM were the events I enjoyed the most. Both really reminded me of why Club Matryoshka was so special because there’s a certain magic that comes with making them happen. From building the world to actually hosting the event, unexpected things would happen and that’s what made it so exciting. Putting together big shows like that with such a great team for a community was so fulfilling,” Aaliyah Reodica says.
Jaime San Juan adds: “It’s definitely those moments where I immerse myself with the artists I’m familiar with or even the ones I look forward to listening to for the first time with me just deafened from the team on discord for a bit while I savour the moment. Sometimes I forget that it’s a virtual space, seeing how the crowd pauses from jumping around as well as I did.”
“My favourite memory on Club Matryoshka was when starRo went on stage during Infinite Summer. The whole team was in discord hanging out for the hours that we were on for the whole event,” Obi quips. “I’ll never forget that moment no matter how “separated” we were physically, the event brought me closer to the person I looked up to when it came to electronic music production. I remember tearing up and having goosebumps because I used to eagerly play his music on Majestic Casual when I was 16 and now here he was in the “pixel” performing for me, separated by four blocks of thin air.”
Beyond genre-blurring performances and innovative collaborations, Club Matryoshka prides itself on putting Filipino artistry on its global stage and being vocal about supporting marginalized communities.
“If it is a matter of who was the focus I think Club Mat definitely managed to successfully highlight the support for marginalized people and communities with all the events we’ve done. And being able to shift that power somehow towards marginalized people was something that was definitely a highlight for me,” Wieneke V shares.
As to what’s next when Club Matryoshka goes live again: “No plans at the moment but knowing how crazy the people on the team are, I wouldn’t be surprised if something comes out of the blue. I think the next step for many of us is to live our normal lives as fruitful as we can,” Montales explains.
Throughout its two years of existence and perhaps, in becoming one of the most impressive undertakings in the music scene, Club Matryoshka inarguably set standards that audiences around the world can trust that its next step is far from anything ordinary.
“We are grateful that we are among peers who are very understanding and willing to temporarily let go so we can thrive individually. When Club Matryoshka comes back, we are excited to jump back in with fresh eyes and evolved minds,” co-founder Patis del Mundo says.
[Images via Club Matryoshka, Bandwagon Asia, FTC Magazine & Ceros]
Read 'Welcome to Club Matryoshka, a virtual club for music mutants or anyone who's ever felt out of place IRL' here