Visual artiste and stage designer VJ KayCee talks about visual makeovers, stage designs and why there would be no music festival without it.
I first met VJ KayCee at a lunch buffet in Amby Valley last December. He looked exhausted and in dire need of sleep. It was the first day of Enchanted Valley Carnival (EVC) and the demands of his work had been keeping him on his toes. I was introduced to him by a journalist friend who just couldn’t stop gushing over his work.
VJ KayCee is a visual artiste who conceptualises and designs stages, among many other things. If you attended Supersonic or EVC last year, and dropped your jaw looking at the mind-blowing stage, you know what I’m talking about. The Iron Heart Stage at the former festival was nothing like India had ever seen before. Based on the theme of ‘Steam Punk’, which was inspired by the look and feel of the Industrial Revolution, it was a work of unprecedented magnitude and intricacy of design. I chat with the Bangalore-based artiste about his work.
Photo source: VJ KayCee/Facebook
When and how did you decide to become a visual artiste?
It was accidental. I went to work for Big Chill in 2007. That’s where I first saw visual DJs perform who made a huge impact in my thought process. This was the time when I was DJing and dealing with the ‘No Dancing’ rule that Bangalore had; it was a struggle to be a DJ or do anything. After being inspired by these visual artistes, I just took a leap of faith.
What has been your most exciting or challenging project so far?
Every project is exciting, that is the way I look at things. Being one of the first guys who started this (visual arts) in the country, it’s always a challenge for me to give my best. If you look into the EDM scene, the Iron Heart Stage at Supersonic Goa has been one of the most challenging. Not just in terms of design but also in terms of planning and execution.
The Iron Heart Stage at Supersonic
Tell us more about what went into designing those massive stages.
The process seemed never ending. Under the guidance of Nikhil Chinapa, we started by brainstorming. We would make something and then we would destroy it because we needed more. We made close to 35 designs and that's when the concept of ‘Steam Punk’ was frozen. What you saw at Candolim Beach in Goa was the 42nd design.
As someone who works behind the scenes, how important is visual art for a music event?
If there are no visuals there is no music festival. And the reason for this statement is we complete the experience. People think we just do visuals but we do so much more than that. We design the stage, conceptualise lighting along with the lighting engineer, special effects (Cold Pyro, CO2) and almost give a choreographed show for the artiste. Then we produce customised visuals for that stage, and when all this is put together, it creates an experience.
The design blue-print of Iron Heart Stage
Photo: Supersonic Goa
What is the best and worst part about your job?
The best part is that you get to design and perform with the biggest artists, you get to give people experiences that are out of the world. And that just makes me happy. The worst part is not getting appreciated and paid for all the hard work done.
Who have been your biggest influences?
Nikhil Chinapa, Pearl, 1024 Architecture, V Squared Labs, Mapping Festival, Obscura Digital, Bart Kresa.
An iron-and-steel snail at the stage
Well, the festival season might be a few months away, but VJ KayCee reveals he has already started the design for Supersonic 2015. And he is not spilling the beans about it. I guess we will have to wait and watch his magic in December.
Cover Image: Supersonic Goa