WeTransfer Is Enriching LA’s Creative Boom with How We Do: LA
Posted by Isabelle 6 days ago in Features
Maybe you know WeTransfer as the reason you can send the raw file of your ripping drum solo to your bandmate on another continent.
Maybe it’s how you’re able to send the hi-res photos you take in the field back to your editor.
Maybe it’s where you go to find new music and art.
Regardless of what you use it for, file-sharing service WeTransfer has been the reason you’re able to share your work with the people that matter to you most. For the last six years, they’ve been an indispensable boon to the creative industry, helping over 90 million people achieve their visions by giving them the vaguely godlike ability to send and receive files too hefty for email platforms like Gmail to handle. Often, these files come straight from the hands of artists, musicians and filmmakers who use the service to collaborate on meaningful work across the boundaries of time and land.
But, there’s something more to WeTransfer than just file-sharing — something that’s becoming increasingly visible as they partner with influencers and cutting-edge projects such as FORM Arcosanti and Ace Hotel.
What it is is an insatiable desire to push creative culture forward, both online, and off of it. And lately, this drive to bring their web service into the real word has culminated in their most recent undertaking, How We Do: LA, a brand-new night celebrating musical collaboration and the rich, sonic history of the city.
But, before How We Do, came wallpapers.
WeTransfer’s motivation to transcend the simple function of file-sharing started with inspiration from their homepage wallpapers; straightforward, rotating single-image backgrounds which feature work from designers, artists, photographers, filmmakers and musicians.
Over the years, these curated wallpapers helped the site blossom from a humble online service to a purveyor of boundary-pushing music, art and film. And then, the wallpapers started talking — WeTransfer programmed them to be able to host singles, albums, music videos and occasionally even feature-length films. Around this single homepage, a worldwide network of creative professionals and projects like Resident Advisor, Opening Ceremony, Design Indaba, MUBI and BBC Radio’s Gilles Peterson (now WeTransfer’s creative director) began to form. Suddenly, WeTransfer became not only a file-sharing service, but a place to find new music. And films. And art. And everything.
“We want to provide an optimal experience,” says Partnerships Director Fatma Genc about why WeTransfer is pushing so hard to get creative content to their audience.
Yet it would be so easy to perfect file-sharing and leave it at that … what’s inspired them to go beyond that capability and expand into the real live creative realm?
“We get a lot of users writing us to say they found out about an artist or a musician through us, and now their art is hanging on their walls or playing on their speakers,” Genc says. “It’s really meaningful to see because WeTransfer has been in this process of transforming from a tech-only utility to a media platform that brings people together in tangible, real-life ways. It’s become more about just information sharing — now, it’s telling stories.”
WeTransfer will channel that same passion for storytelling and their drive to bring creativity and communication to offline audiences into How We Do: LA.
Half commemoration of their first U.S. office and half celebration of LA’s musical spirit, How We Do will focus on the joy of making unexpected creative connections through a curated lineup of artists who represent the city’s sonic roots and bright future.
“What we see in LA specifically, is this huge uprise of the creative,” Genc says. “You have New York, which is the big media capital. You have San Francisco; the tech capital. But right now, LA is the creative capital. It’s the perfect city to land in to open up our offices, because people here truly understand how important it is to connect with each other through art and ideas.”
For WeTransfer, How We Do: LA is the physical manifestation of that exact same spirit.
“More than anything with this event, we want to connect with the community of LA and celebrate the whole online/offline dynamic that we can offer,” she says.
To do this, WeTransfer has enlisted BBC Radio’s Gilles Peterson to tell the city’s story. Together the two worked together to imagine what it would be like to take their curated wallpapers from their online homepage into the offline world of Los Angeles. Immediately, the idea of a collaboration with the Ace Hotel came up. It felt natural to do so; the two had already worked together in the past, installing a series of billboards outside the Ace’s LA stronghold featuring work from boundary-pushing artists. Plus, the brands think similarly when it comes to effortless, enriching creative events and thoughtful branding that reaches far beyond the actual services both companies offer.
LA’s sonic history is something Peterson is intimately familiar with. As an expert musical historian in his own right, he was also tasked with curating a lineup he felt would most honestly express the city’s evolution in sound.
Eventually, he settled with multi-instrumentalist and composer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and his 11-man band. With his uplifting, conscious and diverse range of jazz compositions, he’d be the perfect artist to lead the audience through the ages and genres of the city’s sound. But, he won’t be alone. He’ll be accompanied by specific performers who represent the soul of those genres; BadBadNotGood, Nai Palm, The Sa-Ra Creative Partners and a few special, secret guests.
Peterson explains how it’ll all go down:
“We’ll start with hip-hop from The Sa-Ra Creative Partners and end in jazz with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and his strings and an amazing surprise act. The eclectic BadBadNotGood combine jazz, soul and funk on to a base of improvisation and top it all off with a touch of hip-hop … I chose artists for this show who I felt were important to highlight the importance of the LA music scene over the last 30 years and who either played an important part in its development (SaRa, Miguel) or who have been heavily influenced by it. The music coming out of LA has always had a massive impact on the worldwide music scene and never more so than now.”
It doesn’t look like the rich history of ‘80s hair metal bands like Warrant will be covered at this event, but … maybe that’s a good thing.
In addition to the main How We Do program in the Theatre, WeTransfer will also host a special VIP audio event at Ace that will explore how sound is used as a material, a device and a storytelling medium. The event will feature discussions and interviews with leading creatives who use sound in innovative ways across music, podcasting, design and performance, including The Cooties (garage punk band), Gideon Brower (podcaster and journalist from KCRW) and Nelly Ben Hayoun (designer and Head of Experiences at WeTransfer).
How We Do: LA will take place at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28 at The Theater at the Ace Hotel. Tickets are unfortunately sold out, but expect many more events like this from WeTransfer to come.
“This is our first major event in America,” said Damian Bradfield, WeTransfer’s CMO. “Hopefully the first of many as we officially launch in the US. We are stoked at the opportunity of showcasing an amazing cross section of talent offline, hoping to highlight what makes WeTransfer stand out.”