first photo by Olive Black
Matt Robeson is the creative mind behind White Light Prism, a video projection company that enhances music by setting it to a collage of trippy vintage footage. Sea Witch sat down with Matt on night one of Sea Witch Fest, where he put us all in a trance during The Asteroid #4, Terry Malts, Everyone is Dirty, and the Young Elders. It was here that we sat around Rickshaw stop's beer vending machine to talk about his process and artistic style.
SEA WITCH: Where do you pull from for your visuals?
White Light Prism: I’m basically sampling all art. I’m sampling all video.
SEA WITCH: What got you into video projection as opposed to any other form of visual art?
WLP: A lot of it is the need of the bands for projection. I’m sort of complementing the bands and what they want visually.
SEA WITCH: I noticed that you have a lot of different themes, and young elders were saying that you met up beforehand and talked about what they wanted projected. Do you always meet up with the bands before?
WLP: It depends. I’ve got the set list from everyone. The last band, Terry Malts, is more influenced by post punk stuff, as well as Everyone is Dirty. I’ve worked with them many times, but they had some new stuff tonight so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As long as the band knows what they don’t want visually, or if they have a sort of visual aesthetic that they like, I try to follow what they want to do.
SEA WITCH: Do you ever project for non-psychedelic music?
WLP: Oh yeah. Post punk stuff, electronic, soul. Electronic music deserves more landscapes. Not to define too much. But certain genres you can get more abstract.
SEA WITCH: Is there a more common theme people are going for?
WLP: Certain bands are into more playful stuff. This is all based on the music, so its reacting to what they’re doing and having some sort of imagery. You don’t want to be too literal. I’m just remixing all of video and art and everything.
SEA WITCH: So it's all planned out beforehand?
WLP: Not necessarily. I have the set list but other than that, no.
SEA WITCH: Do you ever start showing something and then realize that it’s not right and make a switch?
WLP: Earlier on, I did some work with Nick Turner on the Hawkwind tour, and I think we did like 40 or 50 shows. You get to learn all the clubs and how to set up the projector, so that was sort of my boot camp, working with him. Working with bay area bands, working in NYC, where I used to live, and Brooklyn.
SEA WITCH: How long have you been doing this?
WLP: I’ve been doing this for about five years and traveling. I’m a musician as well, I do sitar work with California Raga Association (previously Brooklyn raga association). In a way, that’s sort of what I started doing the visuals for. Having that visual component available for people who want it. It’s a high stimulation environment. It’s all about the execution. This is a very professional venue here, Rickshaw Stop. I’d love to thank Sea Witch productions again, Lauren and Haley- they always put on the best shows.
SEA WITCH: When you’re on tour, what’s your go to liquor store snack?
WLP: There’s nothing natural. It’s all artificial. Probably like some rotting fruit somewhere. Or granola, water. Anything somewhat real. But not even the granola… or even the fruit... or even the water… well hey, then nothing. I’ll fast and eat some carrots. Don’t eat until you can find the most healthy thing and then that was when you’re supposed to eat maybe. I hate being on the road in this country. It’s why I don’t drive. I live in Oakland. I just walk everywhere.
SEA WITCH: What’s your BART stop?
WLP: 19th st Oakland!
White Light Prism is a creative service company started by Matt Robeson in 2011. They offer film production, live event projections, and film editing. Send all messages regarding collaborations to MattRobeson0@gmail.com.