We Created an Immersive Escape Room with HTRK’s Jonnine Standish

Come experience the beauty, tension, and technology for yourself.
21 March 2018, 12:13am
Photography by Michelle Tran

This article is supported by BMW. We partnered with them on the Australian launch of the first ever BMW X2. You can read about our collaboration below and and RSVP to experience it yourself.

You might recognise Jonnine Standish as the frontwoman of experimental electronica act HTRK. She’s also passionate about fashion, art, and tech, working as the creative director for Melbourne Fashion Week and co-creating the virtual reality Ghost Train for Sydney Festival last year_._ A longtime friend of VICE, we’ve been cooking up a little something with her and the big wigs at BMW: the X-Cape room to launch the first ever BMW X2.

Escape rooms might remind you of corporate team bonding exercises or off-brand first Tinder dates, but shake off those negative preconceptions because they've garnered a loyal following around the world. There's a real fetish for escape rooms out there—they can be as addictive as solving puzzles; they release dopamine; and tourism for them is huge, especially in their hometown Hungary where they were created.

With creative direction by Standish, the X-Cape room is an immersive sonic and visual experience that blends art, interaction, and adventure. Teams of six work together to solve puzzles and complete the mission—all set in another dimension. “We're asking people to find X2, Xanthos, the twin moon of earth, which is stuck in a black hole,” Standish says about the narrative, which takes inspiration from Greek mythology. “Xanthos is ancient Greek for ‘yellow’ or ‘golden’, so that’s a visual theme. You go through a series of environments to retrieve the twin moon.”

A sneak peek at the venue for the Sydney X-Cape room: a cave below the Opera House.

With her HTRK bandmate Nigel Yang providing an ambient soundtrack and Standish crafting mind-bending visuals and puzzles, X-Cape is the perfect project to combine the creative director’s talents and passions. Standish is the quintessential Melbourne multi-hyphenate: she’s worked in fashion, music, visual art, and graphic design. She’s spent a lot of time in Kreuzberg and London. And her band’s debut album, Marry Me Tonight, was produced by Rowland S. Howard.

That’s no exaggeration. If Standish had unlimited budget and time, she says she’d build not only an escape room but an entire theme park filled with immersive mysteries and problems to be solved. “Like Michael Jackson’s Neverland, except stranger—and that was pretty strange. There'd be escape rooms and ghost trains and black fairy floss and virtual reality rides.”

Maybe she’ll get the opportunity someday. Since spending those requisite years touring and touring overseas (with the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Horrors), Standish has built up a veritable reputation as a creative director capable of wearing more than one hat at once, and she thrives this way—finding slashie life to be “the opposite” of draining.

“I’m always trying to combine three elements in everything I do,” she says. “Those being technology, mythology, and fashion. I always try to take those three worlds and fit them into the project I'm working on, make them live together seamlessly. X-Cape is everything I'm interested in because it has a little bit of magic, it has beauty and tension, and music and technology.”

You can check out X-Cape in Sydney on April 5, 6, and 7; Brisbane on April 12 and 13; and Melbourne on April 26 and 27. You can find out more details and RSVP here. Spaces are limited.