- Top 100
March 27, 2012
Written by K. Lea
Bassnectar, photo by Pat McNinch
I have been pursing a theory for quite some time that just like in hip hop, there are four elements of electronic music. The four elements of hip hop are commonly known as DJs, MCs, graffiti writers and breakdancers. It is clear to me that although the DJ is a large part of the experience of an EDM show, without a few other elements the experience is soulless and stark. Without an audience, there is no show. Without good audio, no one can hear the music properly. Without some sort of visual stimuli, we would all be standing around in the dark. The Space Invaderz, a Calgary-based group of visual artists and designers aim to achieve a new rank of this visual element by providing large scale installations for shows and music festivals around western Canada.
Space Invaders Koi Fish, photo by Pat McNinch
The story of Space Invaders begins in the imagination of group founder Pat McNinch (also known as bass music producer Fat Pat.) Pat was already involved with art installations for the purpose of stage design with friend Kevin Ouchi. A few local promoters had noticed Pat’s penchant for conceptualizing unique stage set ups, and asked Pat to contemplate and execute the staging for their events. He began to take care of their aesthetic needs whilst pursuing a Bachelor of Design at the Alberta College of Art and Design. It was here fellow Space Invader Robyn Thompson met Pat while working on a school project. As a result of their project and her love for electronic music, Pat asked Robyn to lend a hand in the décor for the Village Stage’s Shambhala pre-party in 2009. At this point Robyn was hooked, and Space Invaderz was born.
Slowly adding members to the group since 2009, there are now ten full-time Space Invaderz. Each member brings a unique component to the ‘visual’ element of electronic music. Robyn, Pat and Kevin (each holding a Bachelor’s degree in Design) do the brunt of the design work while construction, transportation and logistics manager Jimmy Tersmette dictates feasibility of projects. Dustin Weisner, Colin Mackeigan and Kyle van Yzerloo take care of construction, assembly and various odd jobs while Ben Leonard, Leigh Powless and Logan Anderson are involved throughout the entire process. Each respective member has a knack for taking inspiration, and bringing it to life through imagination. When asked where the design team draws their inspiration Robyn said “A lot of it comes from day-to-day life. We try to make ideas come alive by using innovative raw materials and the use of light and shadow.”
On Stage: Ana Sia and Spiral Architects, photo by Jessica Wittman
With a long list of triumphant past projects such as Bassnectar, Beats Antique and Bass Cannon (a massive party at Calgary’s Big 4 Building featuring several headlining DJs) the Space Invaderz have reached a point of evolution. They have overgrown their grassroots threshold and have had to elect a member to be the first point of contact for the group; someone to manage upcoming projects, answer e-mails and communicate with various promoters. Robyn has gladly stepped up to the plate. “I wanted to do something that utilizes all the things I learned in school, including entrepreneurial studies and human resources in addition to design. By stepping away from my day job one day a week, I am able to find this niche in Space Invaderz.”
Snowblower Festival in Calgary, photo by Pat McNinch
Aside from facilitating stage set up for spring shows around the city, summer is also shaping up to be an exciting time for Space Invaderz, as there are several festivals in the works. Space Invaderz has been asked to provide visual elements for this year’s Sync Festival, working with a Mayan theme. Being 2012, the last year on the Mayan calendar, the festival’s main stage will be transformed into a Mayan Temple. As well as Sync there are a multitude of other festivals in the works. “We are currently ironing out the details for some other events. We have begun the creative process for these festivals” said Robyn.
Inner Workings of an Installation
Other than that small quip, Space Invaderz aren’t saying much about their upcoming projects. Part of the magic of the visuals at an event is the element of surprise. When one descends on a festival for the first time and sees a striking set up, hears a dope track and sees a favorite performer, it’s truly an incomparable feeling. It is this knowledge that prevents me from asking for more.
Watch for Space Invaderz this upcoming festival season around B.C. and Alberta. For more information go to the Space Invaderz Facebook page, and for good measure become a fan!