Second Life,

Draxtor Despres

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Okay, hands up, how many of you have heard the name Draxtor Despres?  Or seen it mentioned in any number of blogs both independent and on your SL account dashboard? I am willing to bet that it is a large proportion of you.  If you don’t know who he is, where have you been?  Oh I know, busy roleplaying as an ostrich …..

It is quite apt that we continue with our series about residents using their creativity in Second Life, and how it impacts on their real life with this month’s cover article, by interviewing the one and only Draxtor Despres.  His exuberance and enthusiasm for all that is Second Life is difficult to convey in the written format, so I would like you to read this article keeping those facts in the back of your mind.

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Drax is one of Second Life’s most well-known and highly creative residents in his own right.  He currently produces and presents “The Drax Files: World Makers” profiling the creative people behind the avatars who move the virtual world of Second Life forward with their passion and persistence. Mixed reality interviews with subjects from all over the globe form the basis of personal stories that profile designers, game-makers, role-players and fashion aficionados, musicians, artists and social-issue activists: for these dedicated residents the avatar is not just a separate pixelated entity, but a true extension of themselves with which they navigate the digital space. The show utilizes real-life footage and Skype interviews as well as machinima from within Second Life and features a range of creators from self-taught hobbyists to dedicated pros from all walks of life, from all over the world, cutting across gender, ethnic and generational divides.

So with the shoe now firmly on the other foot it is time to get to know a bit about the man behind The Drax Files.

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Draxtor Despres aka Bernhard Drax, was born in Bavaria and studied music in Munich at the Conservatory.  He is an accomplished musician who plays the guitar, piano, violin, dabbles with percussion and plays the accordion because he is Bavarian you know ….  He moved to the USA in 1996, where he worked as a musician, writing and recording a number of “cool demos” which have not been released.  He then went back to school and studied recording engineering.  Due to the lack of jobs at the time he found himself working in radio for KPFK in Los Angles.  This is where he met his wife.  They moved to Pacific Grove in California, where he went to work for another radio station as the news director.  He then went back into music scoring films in Germany.

In 2007 a friend of his commented, wouldn’t it be fun if they were to start a virtual band, they already played in a RL band together.  Coincidently, Drax was reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, at the time, which is a novel weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age. At this point ‘Gustav’, Drax’s Spoodle (Cocker Spaniel cross Maltese Poodle) contributed his ten cents worth to the interview.

Drax’s friend’s son had told him about Second Life, a programme in which you could perform music. Drax thought the whole concept of a virtual environment was crazy, but it was just what he had been waiting for.  He immediately searched the internet for it, downloaded the client and signed in as Daxtor Despres.  Intuitively he grasped what it was all about, and having just read Snow Crash certainly helped with his acclimatisation into SL.

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He took to SL immediately, and found it completely fascinating. Two months in he completely abandoned the thought of music, and he was making short machinima stories on what other residents were doing and how they thrived in a virtual creative environment.  So he has been in machinima for 7 years now, learning by doing.

The Drax Files were born in 2012 when Drax was chatting to Kriss Lehmann of Botanical who asked Drax why he didn’t go back to video reportage as there was nothing like it in SL.  He had been busy with projects like ‘Fluffy on a Mission’ leading up to this point. So he did as Kriss suggested, with Kriss’ being the first profile produced for the Drax Files.  Drax decided to use both the real life person and their avatar in the profiles, so that those people who do not understand what SL  is about, would get a far better idea of what it is and that it is actually a platform made up by the residents own creativity and for other residents.  He now “knocks out one a month”.

Drax says that from a creative point of view he has definitely grown by using Second Life.  All creative people have to go through the pain of the creative process to come out the other side being able to enjoy the exhilaration of accomplishing something special and by systematically getting better.

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Drax has not escaped the drama that only Second Life can conjure up, and he wishes that he could repair some of the working relationships that broke because of it.  These situations are very real because it involves very real people, and sometimes we are inclined not to take cognisance of this fact.

In real life Drax has a number of people who have influenced who he is as a person and his outlook on life, and of those is Frank Zappa who tops the list as his ultimate role model.  Not only was he a musician but also a significant social commentator.  You may be forgiven for thinking that Drax’s avatar has a bit of a Frank Zappa look about it, well I think it does.  As for role models in Second Life, that would be every person he comes into contact with.  Everyone has a valid story and it is important to Drax to tell those stories.

Things that get to him in SL are identical to those that get to him in RL, i.e. bigotry, discrimination, and racism, unfortunately individuals bring that thinking into SL as well and go about poisoning the environment with their small mindedness.

Other ways Drax expresses his creativity is by recording music, playing in various ensembles, and coaching young people.  When he is not in SL creating the Drax Files he is in RL working on freelance projects in order to pay the bills.

Draxtor is very positive about the future of Second Life, and when the updated version of SL that Linden Labs is working on eventually comes on line, he says that it will be a new improved version of what we currently have, with core problems like lag being a thing of the past.

In conclusion Drax pointed out that to be successful, you can’t be afraid of failure, don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do something, because in Second Life you can, and more than likely the same applies to RL too.  “I love Second Life so much and I love the amazing people and their diversity.  I will be in Second Life for as long as possible.”

This article was first published in MORE Magazine – September 2014 –

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