You’ve seen this guy at almost every major festival performing alongside the world’s biggest acts. My Cup of Tech takes you behind the scenes into the life of long flights, extended sets, and live improvisation of this world-class VJ…
Imagine this: a stage with bad lighting, no screens, and no lasers! Maybe that’ll work for smaller parties (and depending on the genre.. I know, my fellow Warehouse fiends). 💭
…Don’t freak out yet. For the majority of large festivals around the world you not only have the support of thousands of dollars, easily heading into the millions for larger events like TimeWarp, EDC, Ultra, and Tomorrowland, for stage design but none of the spectacular artist performances would be possible without people like Frankie Granicz aka “G-Netic”. He’s responsible for some of the most memorable and plain bad-ass visuals the festival world has ever seen.
“But all festival visuals are pre-programmed,” you say. “They are…. Aren’t they?” HELL NO!
Thanks to Frankie and a new breed of visual performers that have been taking over the festival sound booths for the last 10 years, these guys and gals push the limitations of what the music lovers believe are the boundaries of visual experiences at music festivals. Did I mention he does it all Live? You read that right. It’s done live.
Technology is light years beyond what it used to be and long are the days of small LED walls and inefficient computers. The world now has the most advanced technology in history and festivals hire people like Frankie to make the most of your premium festival pass prices. I had some brief moments to catch up with Frankie Granicz while he was between shows for an exclusive chat with the man behind the LEDs. Grab yourself a ☕️ and read on below…
Alvaro: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to have this chat with me. I want to give the audience a peek into the booth so they understand that the visuals they see at these amazing show is just as injected with in-the-moment, human emotion as the music they’re listening to. Your style is something I really enjoy; you have a clean, modern and bold aesthetic that differs from a lot of the typical visuals I see at events. Can you tell us a bit of your history?
G-Netic: I’m in Los Angeles and originally from California. I’ve been performing live visuals for major artists and festivals for over a decade now, it’s crazy how fast that flew by.
Thanks to Frankie and a new breed of visual performers that has been taking over the festival sound booths for the last 10 years, these guys and gals push the limitations of what the music lovers believe are the boundaries of visual experiences at music festivals.
Alvaro: In a recent post during EDC Las Vegas, where you were the main Visual performer this year, John Digweed posted a pic on Twitter and said, “Paradise stage… seeing it from the front you realize how incredible the stage designs are at festivals around the world.” How does it feel to know that John Digweed not only gave your artistry recognition, but that he said that when he was looking at your work?
G-Netic: It’s always humbling to get praise for your work no matter who it’s coming from.. DJs, promoters, agents, or the fans. I’ve performed visuals for John Digweed more times than I can count at this point. His sets always push me in creative directions during each show that make it really exciting to create visuals for. It’s like trying to create a visual story in real time. You can create moments of pure magic when everything syncs up perfectly; it’s almost as if an energy flows across everything around you. A true zen moment.
Alvaro: That’s awesome that you feel just as connected to those moments as the people in the crowd and the DJ you’re performing with. Not a lot of people get into the type of work that you’ve been so successful at. Can you give us a little background into how you began doing this professionally?
G-Netic: Honestly, I had no intention of doing live visuals for DJs and Festivals. I went to school for Fine Arts, 3D, and VFX. Somewhere down the line I fell in love with the process of electronic music production and synthesis. As an artist I wanted to find a way to bridge the gap between music, and the interaction of art/visuals at shows to create something specials, and unique, for each and every performance.
I began creating visuals that I could control interactively with the music, and that I could trigger in real time to improvise to any song.. a real way to bring the music to life. It was a long trial and error before I found my style and system of what worked for me. This is still a constant evolution, and will more than likely never end. As you grow as an artist every day, so do your tools and your process of doing things.
You can create moments of pure magic when everything syncs up perfectly; it’s almost as if an energy flows across everything around you. A true zen moment.
Alvaro: How do you see yourself and the creative process when you’re on a gig?
G-Netic: When I’m performing visuals at any show, or with any artist/DJ, I see myself as a visual interpreter for the music, audience, and the moment. The creative process can be quite stressful at times depending on a lot of variables: deadline, stylistic direction, limited rehearsal time, complexity of the Pixel map/LED wall, the demands of each artist you’re working with, as well as the extreme long hours of performing start-to-finish for shows.
Alvaro: What kind of preparation goes into your performances for these massive productions?
G-Netic: The design and mood concept of each show takes time and patience which is usually something I don’t have the luxury of, ironically, as deadlines are usually quite short. Then there is the process of how to create visuals that will interact with each artist and their style, which is why you should study who you’re working with and how they mix as you are more than likely not going to have time to rehearse with them because of all the other DJs performing on that same day. Some of the bigger challenges are that you won’t know what most of the DJs will play and you have to be able to think on your feet, and improvise in real time. There is no guide to this, it comes down to how well you know your tools, and how fast you can react with the music in real time. It’s like free form Jazz at times. But if you have worked with certain artists long enough you can anticipate what they are going to play, and it can be really fun to have perfect visual sync with them.
Alvaro: I’ve seen lots of your performances have been in tandem with world class House and Techno performers, Drum and Bass, and other genres as well. Can you tell us about some of your most memorable performances and moments?
G-Netic: This is a hard one as each one was great in its own way, I have performed for some of the biggest artists in almost every genre, from DnB, Dubstep, Techno, House, and so on. Without a doubt though, some of the greatest moments I’ve had have performing live visuals have been with Carl Cox, his energy and his stage presence is almost electric. When he gets on stage you feel the presence of greatness. There are so many great DJs I’ve worked with, and created visuals for over the years but only a few can move a crowd the way he can. It’s is always a pleasure to perform, and create visuals for him.
Some of the greatest moments I’ve had have performing live visuals have been with Carl Cox, his energy and his stage presence is almost electric. When he gets on stage you feel the presence of greatness.
Alvaro: Where do you draw your inspiration from? Is there a certain process you like to use or mental space you like to get into when you want to be creative?
G-Netic: I draw my inspiration from everything around me. Music, technology, art, nature, fantasy. I try take notes, and sketch every day to develop ideas further for later so I don’t lose my thought if I am away from my studio. Inspiration can be like grains of sand, if you don’t hold on it can slip through your fingers.
Alvaro: For people getting into professional creative work, what’s one piece of advice you that’s worked for you?
G-Netic: Ask yourself if you really love what you do, and if you’re willing work harder then you have ever worked in your life, and not because you have to, because you want to. The sweetest fruit is at the edge of the branch.
Inspiration can be like grains of sand, if you don’t hold on it can slip through your fingers.
Alvaro: What do you see for the future of stage production? Also, Is there a crazy idea you’d like to try with a stage production that wants to push the limits of their installations?
G-Netic: With the way current technology is going you might start seeing far less stage production in the ways you’re used to seeing with LED walls and props, and more VR/AR interaction for the stage production. Imagine having all the production created in augmented reality, almost like walking into another world, or game level you can interact with you and your friends as soon as you get to your stage of choice, from physics, to liquid, fire particles, objects etc. The Microsoft Halo Lens is great example of this. Crowds being able to interact with music and visuals will be the way forward. Although it will take some time to get there, as budgets will need to increase, and the technology will need to be made more affordable to the general public.
Alvaro: Is there anything you’d like to tell the readers? Perhaps, a message you like to spread?
G-Netic: It’s hard to say anything to anyone without sounding cliché these days. I guess love what you do every day till it kills you. Carpe Diem, seize the day.”
We’d like to thank Frankie for his time and all of the hard work he puts in on a consistent basis to push the standards for the festival experience. Catch one of his visual performances at one of his announced shows: Insomniac ESCAPE Halloween in San Bernardino, CA USA at the Factory 93 stage in October, and EDC in Orlando, Florida USA in November. You can usually find him at most INSOMNIAC or some ULTRA shows doing visuals on the Techno stage.
“Hope to see you all there, I have some sick visuals for these shows you don’t want to miss.”