I attended the Billie Eilish X Spotify listening experience, and I’ll never be able to listen to music the same way again

Spotify's Billie Eilish listening event at Lightroom, London
(Image credit: Future)

As a pop music enthusiast, I’m constantly on the lookout for fresh sounds and new artists, and Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist has become one of my favorite ways of supercharging Spotify in 2024. So for that reason alone, Friday is the highlight of my week. 

However, last week New Music Friday was eclipsed by New Music Thursday when I listened to the new Billie Eilish album ahead of its release courtesy of Spotify – and it was a listening experience quite unlike any other . 

In the heart of King’s Cross in London, the immersive showspace Lightroom played host to an exclusive Billie Eilish X Spotify event to promote her third album Hit Me Hard and Soft. The album was played from front to back, with no interruptions – just how every album should be listened to in my opinion. But for the first time, I got to listen to an album in full-length with 28 Panasonic laser projectors providing the visuals, and audio pumped  through the Holoplot X1 sound system –- the same one that’s used at the Las Vegas Sphere, a vast high-tech concert and multimedia venue.

Spotify X Billie Eilish listening event

(Image credit: Future)

As well as her sustainable vinyl record announcement, Billie’s album outroll has been her most innovative and technical one to date, and her partnership with Spotify and Lightroom marked the culmination of this cycle:

“Spotify collaborated closely with Billie's team and Lightroom to create a one of a kind immersive listening experience for fans in celebration of the new album. The experience is driven by bespoke visuals which Spotify developed to pair with each track on the album. Our intention was to provide fans a space to listen to the album front to back, uninterrupted - just as Billie intended. We were thrilled to partner with Lightroom to bring this experience to life in their unique immersive space” – Spotify added.

Stepping into the Billie-verse  

Before I head down into Lightroom’s immersive space, the foyer is plastered with promo for Billie’s new album Hit Me Hard and Soft – so I know I’m in the right place.  

The first flight of stairs I walk down takes me to a low-ceiling waiting room-type space where I patiently await my next cue – I still have no idea where I’m going. A door opens, and there’s another narrow staircase to climb down. It gets darker with each step, and before I know it, I’m engulfed in total blackness, with my only light source coming from deep sea blue light strips and a sign ahead that reads ‘HIT ME HARD AND SOFT’. 

An ambient soundtrack gradually rises as I get closer to Lightroom’s art installation area, and as I turn another corner, my jaw drops. 

Lightroom's immersive art installation room

(Image credit: Future)

A place where pop music becomes immersive art  

From where I’m standing on the mezzanine, the room’s four walls are made up of multiple screens that stretch tens of feet into the air, beaming the same blue neon lights. It’s inundated with benches, and there are plenty of pillows scattered around the floor, so this is my cue to get comfortable.

About six months ago, I attended another album launch event which was my first experience of a surround sound Dolby Atmos system, but that was no match to the Holoplot X1. The Holoplot X1’s immersive sound system brought the album’s deep production, and the dark pop elements that have become synonymous with Eilish’s artistry, thrillingly to life.

Visual projections for Billie's song 'Lunch'

(Image credit: Spotify)

Right from the start of the playback, the guitar elements and breathy vocals on the opening track Skinny are perfectly balanced. One doesn’t overpower the other, both are projected equally. As for the follow-up song Lunch, the difference in production is just as contradictory as its title, the bass piercing my chest and pulsing up through the floor simultaneously – not to mention the most crisp electric guitar I’ve heard on any sound system.

The atmospheric but yet groovy Chihiro shifted the direction of the audio projection. Now I can feel the bass hitting me from the ceiling. But it wasn’t until the song Wildflower that I really felt the visuals started to make an impact on the overall experience.

Visual projections during Billie's song 'Wildflower'

(Image credit: Spotify)

An abundance of purple underwater flowers rise from the bottom of the screens, swaying as the bittersweet acoustic guitar travels to every corner of the room with each pluck. The darkness is then interrupted by a silvery light, and a dust-like visual effect fills the walls and carpet floor I’m sitting on for The Greatest – the same visual projection is used on the vocoder section of L’Amour De Ma Vie, but in rich yellow-gold. 

Visual projections for Billie's song 'The Greatest'

(Image credit: Spotify)

The album closer, Blue, a reworked version of two previously leaked songs, brings back the rich sea-blue lighting with echoey yet snappy audio, merging two different tracks into one song. The first half is heavy, with heavenly vocals against a drum beat, and the second half is a somber trappy beat, ending the experience with a full-bodied string arrangement.

It was hands-down the best way I’ve ever listened to an album, and it gives me hope that we'll see more innovative and ambitious collaborations between performers and venues like Lightroom. It’s only uphill from here.

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Editorial Associate

Rowan is an Editorial Associate and Apprentice Writer for TechRadar. A recent addition to the news team, he is involved in generating stories for topics that spread across TechRadar's categories. His interests in audio tech and knowledge in entertainment culture help bring the latest updates in tech news to our readers.