To start off, I’ll say that Porter Robinson’s ‘Worlds’ show was one of the best I’ve ever seen! It was in the same room and on the same stage that I saw Daft Punk in 2007, when my interest in electronic music first started. Being there got me on a path to be an artist myself, start this site and eventually do this interview present day. I saw and felt some similar things, both shows representing originality, top-notch stage/light productions, emotional depth, perfect cohesion and the ability to create different versions/edits of their songs, new and old.
So rare that I can speak with someone whose had a hand in bringing such a memorable show to life. They just recently wrapped up a massive U.S. tour, and are now preparing for the final shows in South Lake Tahoe (California), London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Luxembourg and Australia. Cheers to every person involved in this tour, both mentioned and not. And of course, thanks to Porter Robinson for crafting this beautiful album. Now, onto my conversation with ‘Worlds’ VJ and show collaborator, Ghostdad..
DD Hey man! So kool to have you on Disco Droppings a second time. Onto even more massive things!
GD Thanks man glad to be back!
DD In the first part of the ‘Worlds’ live tour documentary, Porter mentioned the two of you spending four straight days in one place, figuring out how to execute this live visual show. Did your own experiences and inspirations come through in this collaboration? You worked alongside each other in 2012 as well, and I’m curious about your fingerprint on this next level..
GD Those four straight days were spent editing the show. The content itself was developed over a much longer process and involved many artists. All the illustrated animation you see in the show was directed by Invisible Light Network who are also in NY. There was recently a great write up about their process in Animation World Network. I met up with Elliot at ILN a few times while his team was at work, and also made a batch of visuals for the show. I had been playing around with 3D stuff using Blender and Photoshop, and Porter was really feeling the low poly vintage 3D vibe, so a lot of what I made was in that zone and added a nice contrast to the 2D animation. Porter was back and forth with all of us through that process before I collected all the footage and brought it down to North Carolina for the fabled four day editing session.
So my role kind of shifted from creating content to edit mode. We ended up making some new things too that week from existing material or as transition pieces. Our goal of cutting all the visuals to music ahead of time, was to do something that was super tight and related directly to the beat or sometimes individual instruments in the live mix. We wanted to emphasize things with tighter cuts to the beat rather than fades or transitions. Luckily this goes in line with how I like to perform visuals. I think Porter and I share the goal of wanting to catch the viewers attention unapologetically. There’s something inherently dazzling about video that lines up with a song, but we both like it when it really hits you in the face and doesn’t leave your senses to interpret the timing or the mood. That way you can just chill out and feel it completely.
DD What is the feeling like this time around? Compared to the “Language Tour”?
GD We’re very proud of this show. Ben Coker also had a tremendous role in preproduction. He designed everything you see on stage including the clear table Porter performs on. His sleepless nights came in Vancouver when we put the rig together for the first time and he really got into the nitty gritty of programming the lights.
We were proud of the Language tour as well, and that gave us a chance to try different things. On that tour Porter could change up his DJ set, and we could try different things with the visuals and lighting and see how our styles all fit together. But for the Worlds tour Porter had a very solid vision of what he wanted his music to LOOK like, and that gave us a chance to think about how we could best present that vision live ahead of time.
So we’re intensely proud of Worlds as a touring production and very thankful for everyone who helped put it together. We worked with a bigger crew on this one and it wouldn’t have been as consistent a presentation of an amazing show without a solid team to see it through.
DD As I’ve taken in everything surrounding ‘Worlds’, it’s given me new insight into the reality I find myself in and am creating. These fictional universes have given me fresh eyes to see what’s out there. How has all this translated for you?
GD Sometimes I think about all the places we’ve been these past few years and how those can inspire fictional landscapes. Like the coastline in Australia or the highway that takes you into Hong Kong. We’ve seen some really beautiful places in both a natural and urban setting. Tokyo of course another amazing place just to be immersed in even for a day. Some of the stuff I make is collage based and uses photos so I like to think about how I can relate fictional landscapes to places I’ve been. It’s a nice way to remember.
DD For days and days after the Seattle show, I had lyrics and melodies swirling around in my head. You spend more time with this imagery and music than most, do you find your mind superimposing these environments into your day to day travels? Having your vision glitch out in a way?
GD By the end of this tour I knew every frame of the show. I could probably hear a song from the album now and see what’s on the screens in my head at that exact moment. I’m also way too used to being in dark theaters all day. Staring at the screens every night definitely leaves some of the images burned into my eyes. I’ll have to spend some time in the daylight and see if anything does glitch out in my vision. Could be interesting!
DD Any especially special moments on tour so far?
GD San Francisco was a really big show. 7000 people showed up and were all totally feeling it top to bottom. That was a definite morale boost early on in the tour. The Aragon in Chicago also stands out as a really cool show just because of the history in that theater. Old theaters always have sort of a spooky magical feel and in that one we took a tour of the catwalks above the ceiling and got to check out the old pipe organ that still plays from the balcony. And finally the 9:30 club in DC was an incredible show. DC is an awesome town for live music, in part because the 9:30 Club has always placed emphasis on keeping their venue all ages and making it really comfortable for concertgoers. That kind of puts the focus on the show a little more I think. The crowd there was singing every song.
*Concept pictures credit to ILN on Tumblr
*Transparent gifs provided by Ghostdad on Tumblr
DD I watched this behind the scenes documentary about Blade Runner. Ridley Scott would play the soundtrack to the cast and crew during filming to help immerse everyone further. Is there anything similar to that for the crew/yourself as you travel all over?
GD Soundcheck before the doors opened was a good daily ritual on this tour. It was Ben and I’s chance to make sure the show was working and in synch and also make any changes we wanted for that day. Porter would also come out and watch the show, or sometimes just chill on stage and work out some new synth parts. It was a good chance to make sure everyone was on the same page before showtime.
DD And how was that opening DJ set you did for one of the shows?
GD Oh yah that DJ set was fun! I didn’t really plan it out so I was sort of playing random jams. People seemed to dig it though so maybe I should do some more! I used to DJ a lot but have been more into production and the visual thing the last couple of years.
DD Any last words? Seriously wish you all the best with the remainder of the tour and beyond. You’re doing reallllly superb things Ryan.
GD We’re looking forward to some good shows in Europe and Australia! I’ve also got some other projects I’m working on for the new year including music from my band WIN WIN and a new website that will showcase the visual work I’ve done with several artists these past few years. So stay tuned for that!
Ghostdad - Twitter
- Jimi Jaxon