JJ Lin is kind of a geek—and he’ll be the first to tell you so. Growing up, the pop star immersed himself in the world of comic books and sci‑fi novels by the genre’s greats, including Isaac Asimov and Ernest Cline. “I’ve always imagined a world where we’d be living like they do in [Cline’s 2011 novel] Ready Player One, where everything is seamless and connected,” says Lin. “It’s really coming to life now.”
He’s talking about the metaverse, of course. For Lin, the mainstream culture’s growing affinity for virtual realms offers sweet vindication. “You feel liberated because it’s something you’ve been passionate about for so long and now, everyone is paying attention,” he says. “You feel happy for the community; they’re finally being understood a little bit better.”
Last November, Lin made headlines when it was revealed that he had bought $123,000 worth of virtual real estate in Decentraland—hot on the heels of buying a rare Cryptopunk non-fungible token (NFT) for 125 Ethereum, which at the time was worth the equivalent of $761,000, earlier that same month. In July this year, it was announced that he had teamed up with Singaporean entrepreneurs Kiat Lim and Elroy Cheo to found ARC, a private digital community powered by NFTs and blockchain technology. Lim says that ARC’s ambition is “to be a bridge across the real and virtual worlds today, and, in the near future, the ARC metaverse”. So far, its impressive rolodex of members includes venture capitalists, Web3 developers and cryptocurrency experts.
Lin sees potential for NFTs in the music world—as a way to bridge the gap between artistes and their fans—and is already looking into ways they can positively influence his official fan club, JJ Federation, which has been active for more than 10 years. “We’ve been building a community for some time and NFTs enable us to be more direct with that community. Ideally, we want to create an intimate space where we can attract like‑minded people; with a feeling of family, bonding and building together,” says the 41-year-old Singaporean singer, who is based in Taiwan. “NFTs really open that door. We can integrate them into our own ecosystem and empower fans directly. There’s potential to change the world and that excites me.”
Lin is also excited about the possibility that these virtual spaces could somehow bring music from our world to “other worlds, other universes to be discovered”, he shares. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed about: what if our music reached further than we’ve ever imagined, further than we’ve ever reached?”
Since his debut album Music Voyager was released in 2003, Lin has been slipping sci-fi references into his tracks. “I always played with themes of transcending and traversing different universes and planes,” he says. His third studio album No. 89757, released in 2005, was a conceptual album that followed the love story of a robot.
In 2020, Lin released his first English EP, Like You Do. “When writing the songs for it, I had the idea of parallel universes,” he enthuses. “I thought it would be interesting to put myself in this creative process where I’d write the album from [the perspective of] a parallel self. If there were a JJ Lin in a parallel universe, what would he be writing about? What life would he be living?”
In case you missed it: A Whole New World: 6 Points to Note When Delving Into Singapore’s Metaverse