mike shinoda

Welcoming the Outsiders

Words: Vanda Gyuris
Photography: Mark Fiore

Linkin Park founder Mike Shinoda releases one of the world’s first 360-degree virtual reality music videos under his solo project, Fort Minor.

Linkin Park founder Mike Shinoda is back after a 10-year hiatus on his solo project Fort Minor with a new single that’s supported by a full-blown multimedia sideshow. From the moody lyrics to a giant mural on the Venice boardwalk in Southern California, to one of the world’s first 360-degree virtual reality (VR) music videos, the single, “Welcome,” is a song inspired by Shinoda’s association with the “outsider” echelons of society. “I look at it less about breaking out to the outside because this is where I come from; I grew up mixed race and a hip-hop listener when that wasn’t common,” says Shinoda.

Los Angeles was a natural scene for Shinoda to set the project, both because it serves as a throwback to his hometown roots and the diversity of the city provides a colorful backdrop to achieve Shinoda’s goals.

“I really wanted to get into different aspects of L.A. culture, for example a Muslim temple, gay pride parade or a rodeo, but it didn’t work out for the video. I tried to represent some of that in the painting on the boardwalk,” says Shinoda.

Shinoda’s newly released Fort Minor single - “Welcome” [360 Version].

The mission of the project as a whole is to encourage unity across cultural and social divides. It’s Shinoda’s way of reconnecting with a lifestyle and personal identity that preceded the nearly two-decade bout of commercial success with Linkin Park.

“Maybe some people don’t think of Linkin Park as a group of outsiders, but besides the fact that the band has had a lot of mainstream success, we always felt like we had something to prove,” he says. “We’re always working against preconceived notions about what the band is or who we are as individuals, and this song comes from that outsider perspective.”

The Uprising Creative, a production house with offices in Chicago, Nashville, L.A. and London, shot the music video to accompany “Welcome” in VR/360 with director Jeff Nicholas spearheading the project. The video’s release comes at an optimal time as YouTube is opening its platform to a better 360 experience. “A lot of technologies come with a barrier to entry, but the landscape on YouTube is finally primed for a good 360 experience. Now I can make a 360 video and all of our fans can see it rather than it being a niche experience,” says Shinoda.

“Maybe some people don’t think of Linkin Park as a group of outsiders, but we always felt like we had something to prove.” 
mike shinoda

Mike Shinoda poses in front of his mural on the boardwalk in Venice, Calif.

© Mark Fiore

The video provides a snapshot of the atmosphere in and around the communities of Venice, Calif. It strips bare the faces of L.A., giving room for differences to shine as poignant lyrics like “Forget me now/’Cause I was never welcome” score the characters captured walking the streets. Framed by cuts of Shinoda singing in the sand to painting a 12x80 foot canvas mural, the entire 360 experience is strikingly raw.

As part of the multimedia experience around the track, the canvas was later broken apart into individual album sleeves signed by Shinoda and placed in waiting for a few of the many eager and engaged Fort Minor fans. 

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