Formula E continues to push boundaries not just in technology and sustainability, but in terms of entertainment and fan experience too. One way it has done this is through its innovative blend of motorsport and music.
Music is brought into Formula E in a number of ways, from the more traditional after-race concerts to the more unusual jingles which have been specially composed to introduce replays and incidents on the TV coverage. The most unusual part of this drive though may be the Formula EJ, the series’ spherical-headed resident DJ whose identity remains a well-kept secret.
“We wanted to give the fans the experience that they have just stepped into a race scene from a movie,” the anonymous EJ explains. “This meant creating and using music that very much sets the mood for what is happening on-track or on the TV.”
The aim is to provide the best possible experience that will attract fans back time and time again
Providing a fun, unique experience for fans is all part of the aim in helping to attract a younger, fresh audience to both the world of Formula E and motorsport as a whole. “It can be hard for some hard-core motorsport fans to except,” EJ concedes. “However, the younger audience and those who like their music have really embraced it.”
In line with the car development across season one, the reasoning behind the addition of music has evolved as time has progressed. “When we first came up with the idea to add music to the championship, we didn’t know what noise the car would make,” EJ says. The now recognisable and futuristic “whoosh” of the cars passing by has seen the role of the music shift, adding to the drama and excitement.
Much of the in-house music is for TV-broadcast purposes, EJ explains. It is primarily used for key moments in the race, such as the start, and sound effects, such as the red and yellow flags, and “FanBoost” social media interaction. Do the series organisers have an input? “Formula E very much trust my judgment on all the music we use across the championship,” EJ says, adding with a smile that it doesn’t stop people thinking they know better. At the end of the day, the aim is to provide the best possible experience that will attract fans back time and time again.
With the series travelling around the globe, racing in front of some of the most eye-catching and spectacular backdrops the world of motorsport has ever witnessed, does the choice of music reflect the host city? In short, no. “The music is more based on the mood of the day rather than location,” says EJ. This notion again shows the importance placed on creating an exciting atmosphere that steadily builds and adapts to the events taking place on and off the track over the course of the day.
The goal is to see Formula E become synonymous with its music and sound effects, “just like the theme music to the Champions League or soundtrack to Jaws”.
As practice, qualifying and the race all take place over the same day, each race is truly a day-long event and the music that is played across a multitude of astutely placed speakers draws on this perfectly. First there’s a relaxing start before practice, with the pace being picked up again as qualifying looms large. Again, the importance of fan engagement rises to the top, with high-energy music played across the eVillage activity and entertainment area to bridge the gap between the race for pole and the race for the chequered flag.
There is a real sense of pride and passion to create something vibrant that breaks the mould. The dynamism of the music perfectly encapsulates what the series is all about. “We finish off the day with feel-good house music so everyone leaves with a smile on their face,” EJ says.
Live performance sets, after-race parties, concerts and downloads – the series offers it all. So, in the words of Eddy Grant, it is time to rock down to Electric Avenue.