“Blood, sweat, no sleep. Nothing has changed.”
Matt Chromatic is referring to the very first stage he designed in the late ’90s; before his world-renowned Defqon festival stages made the definitive ‘best stage designs of all time’ list; and before his job sent him to countries like Russia, Chile, Las Vegas and China to oversee the staging and special effects involved in his designs.
“Imagination is the key,” he tells TIO ahead of Snowtunes 2017, where his concept will be the centrepiece of the only festival in the country to combine snow and music. Chromatic is the mastermind behind all of Snowtunes’ custom stages as he marks his third anniversary working on the festival this September.
Ironically, while Chromatic is responsible for some of the most technically-advanced configurations and choreographed spectacles in the world, he lives “off the grid”.
“[I live] out in the bush, with no television. I pay very little attention to the world outside of my realm,” he says.
For more insight into the enigma that is Chromatic, read the Q&A below where he touches on his inspiration and his direct access to his Akashic file, his magnum opus, and the country he believes rules them all in terms on construction.
How did you come to pursue a career in creative direction, design and production?
I was born a creator; people do not advertise for dragon slayers but if you can slay a dragon you should.
I was a competition lego builder as a child from there everything just lined up. Everything lines up if you’re open and ready for it.
From a phoenix to a castle, it’s easy to spot a Chromatic design. Where do you draw inspiration from when it comes to your stage design concepts?
Sometimes there is a loose theme but I find it very important to scrap the obvious and never go with a first thought. Having a direct link to the Akashic file is also beneficial to draw inspiration.
Editor’s Note: The Akashic Records, or The Book of Life, are the record files of each life that each person has lived within the Earth Simulation saved as records in a three dimensional form. See Wikipedia’s definition here.
Tell me about how you became involved with SnowTunes?
My mate and an awesome team of people had a great vision that I could see had huge potential, of course I wanted to be a part of it. I pride myself on not doing every gig that comes along… Damn gig pigs.
A stage in the snow is no easy feat. What are some of the unique configurations you need to set into place with an event like SnowTunes?
Handling frozen steel for long periods of time is a serious matter. Climbing on round tubes covered in ice, condensation in lenses and sound gear that likes to keep warm are all factors that make it a unique environment to work in. But ensuring there is a day or two scheduled to go snow boarding is also an important factor…
What do you consider your magnum opus set design?
My 2012 dragon design for Defqon1 (below) was considered as ground-breaking at the time, so I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for it. Since then, it has travelled to Chile, and made the list of the 20 best festival stages of all time.
What’s the tightest deadline you’ve ever worked to and for which event?
One of my most recent events actually, MTA Festival in the remote Sky Desert in China. It was only a matter of weeks from the first concert drawing to the delivery of three large stages.
What’s the closest you’ve ever gotten to not reaching a deadline for a festival stage?
If there is still time left to make things better, we keep working. Even if it may have been considered finished days before, there are always final touches you can make and details you can add.
Which international market has the most impressive stage designs and constructions?
I have designed/built stages around the globe – unless you believe it is flat, then across the world. When it comes to these custom stage builds there is one country that is poles apart from the rest. That is Russia. It sits far above all others and I’m looking to be back there next year.
China is also very impressive. Whilst the country’s activities are not shown on social media, there are some really interesting things happening across their whole country.
Check out the full Snowtunes lineup below, and grab your tickets here.
Snowtunes lineup 2017
Gang of Youths
Mashd N Kutcher
Northeast Party House
Nina Las Vegas
One Day Apart
The Dead Love