Music is a powerful medium for sending messages and encouraging free thinking. This is true for iconic bands like The Beatles, The Doors or Pink Floyd. It is also true for a somewhat unknown band (at least in the US) from Latvia, called Perkons. This band not only influenced a generation with its rock music, but it also helped put an end to the communist era in Eastern Europe. The inspiring story of Perkons will be soon available to the general public thanks to a virtual reality documentary that will be released in the United States on December 10.
Virtual Reality Documentary About a Virtually Unknown Rock Band
Perkons formed in the 1980s in the Baltic country of Latvia. Like most of Eastern European countries, Latvia was behind the Iron Curtain, ruled by communist authorities under Soviet control. For Juris Kulakovs and Ieva Akuratere, the founding members of the band, music was a way of escaping the dreary reality and protesting against social injustice.
The virtual reality documentary Perkons: A VR Rockumentary is produced by the advertising agency Fallon, in collaboration with the well known music magazine Rolling Stone. The documentary will follow the band from its early days. From the first songs and the meager sound equipment, to the revolution that freed Latvia from the communist regime.
The Music of the West and the Anger of the East
The success of Perkons lies in a brilliant combination of rock ’n’ roll music (the music of the “enemy”, i.e. the Western, democratic countries) and the subversive lyrics. Those lyrics spoke loudly of a truth everyone barely dared to whisper.
Lead singer Ieva Akuratere shares the band members’ feelings when writing and performing those songs. “With burning hearts, we’ve always believed in the power of rock and roll and passionately participated in the freedom movement and the liberation of people’s minds,” she said in a press release.
Repression Did Not Silence the Band
The virtual reality documentary also covers the consequences the band had to face. The communist party banned the Perkons from recording and performing. In a world where the state owns every business, that would mean an impossibility to go on. But the Perkons persisted.
Their loyal fans were put on trials and band members were nearly exiled from their country. No matter how hard authorities tried to silence them, the band sang out their message louder and louder.
At the end of the 1980s, songs by the Perkons gave voice to the Latvian revolution against communism. Is their message still relevant today? Cory McLeod, the director of the virtual reality documentary believes so.
“Perkons’ story and message of ‘living the truth in an untrue time’ is just as relevant today as it was 35 years ago in the Soviet Union. In the current political climate, many people wonder what’s the point of starting a band, writing and making art that will just get swallowed up by a sea of falsehoods. Perkons’ story serves as a playbook for how music can speak truth to power and instigate meaningful social change.“
The Virtual Reality Documentary Soon Available to the Public
The official launch of the documentary took place in November in Europe, at the SHIFT Film Festival in Maastricht (Netherlands).
The official US release of Perkons: A VR Rockumentary will take place in New York on December 10. Juris Kulakovs and Ieva Akuratere will attend the launch, as well as perform a few songs at the end of the screening.
The virtual reality documentary will be available in 2019 in the Oculus Store.
For now, you can watch the trailer: