Ep. #38 WTMM x CLI with Joshua Smith

Ep. #38 WTMM x CLI with Joshua Smith

 
 
00:00 / 00:40:05
 
1X
 
Joshua Smith has an interesting view of the industry, validation, and fame. This episode diggs into all that and more.  We go deep on dance as an art/ sport, the Black Lives Matter movement, Daily Routines, personal style, and GRATITUDE.  I can’t wait for you to hear this master-peace of an episode. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Joshua Smith: https://www.instagram.com/dancer_boysmith/

CLI 2020 Experience: https://2020-experience.clistudios.com/

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me. The podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Hello, Hello, good people. And how are you? I’m Dana. And this is words that move me. Welcome back. If you are a regular and welcome, welcome If you’re new here, I am so stoked to be talking to you today. And as always, I am jazzed about this episode, but of course we’re not jumping right in. Oh no, that would be rude. It’s like dancing. Before you warm up, I’m going to give you this warm up. This is where I’d like to start today.  Today, I’m starting with my win, which is very common practice here at the podcast. We always start with a win, but this win comes with a very deep and personal story. Six years ago, my two best friends, Megan Lawson, Jillian Myers, and myself created I’ll call it a whimsy. We created a whimsy that we now call the seaweed sisters. We are a dance… Well, you know what? I’ll take that back. We are a trio. We are a trio that dances. We are a trio that makes things. We are a trio that teaches. We are a trio that performs. And now I can say we are a trio that inspires. Here comes the, win just a few days ago, I got a FaceTime call from my sister. I’m always very excited when those happen. No offense, SIS, but I’m even more excited when I hit accept and it’s my niece taking up the full frame, not my sister. So my niece is seven. I believe. Well, seven and a little bit more than a half. I think she turns eight in January. She called me as if she was like producing a film. She said, Dana, do you have a minute to talk? I was like for you. Absolutely. And she goes, I have a question. I think you’re going to like it. I was like, okay, I can’t wait. And she goes, how did you do the seaweed sister’s video. The one in the pool. The first one, I was like A. I love that. You remember my group, the seaweed sister. She’s been watching these videos since she was born B. I’m so glad that she knows that the first one was the one that happened in the pool. Although on a technicality, we’ve done two that involved pools, but only one that involves a pool with water.  I digress. Number three. I love that. She wants to know how I made it and that she thinks I can tell her the answer to that over a FaceTime call. This is great. I say, why, why do you ask? And she said, well, well, Charlotte and I, Charlotte is her sister, my niece, who’s younger, Charlotte and I are creating her words. Exactly Charlotte and I are creating the fishy sisters. And we would like to remake your seaweed sisters video. So I’m going to need to know how you did that. And I was like, amazing. This is great. Okay. Well, first you’re going to need, um, costumes. So we talked about what her costumes are going to be. She showed me all of her available leggings, which by the way, were many good job sis, that kid is stocked on the legging front. Um, she showed me the color options. I told her, she’s going to need to make a swim cap with a hot glued rhinestones on it. I told her she would need adult supervision for that. Um, she was very excited about the costuming. I asked her if she was prepared to do the moves, she was like, Oh yeah, the moves. I’m not so worried about the moves, but how did you actually make the movie? And I was like, well, that’s, you’re, you’re probably gonna need some help there with, with that as well. You’ll need a camera operator. And she says, what’s an operator. And I said, camera operators, the person that operates the camera, they control where it is and how it moves and whether or not it’s on and recording. And she goes, Oh, okay. That can be my mom. And I was like, nice. Okay. So we’ve got a camera operator. I can send your mom a shot list. And she says, what’s a shot. And I say, a shot list is basically a recipe for the movie. It tells you what you need and how much of it. And when to put it in. And she was like, okay, great. So you can send us the shot list in the mail and then I’ll do the costumes and we’ll do the dancing. And we will make the fishy sisters video. And I, this conversation, I don’t know how, but it wound up lasting, It was like 30 minute conversation. We got very specific about how she will be remaking the seaweed sisters as the fishy sisters. I’m counting this away in a, because I’m completely smitten that I have a niece that’s interested in making things and B because I know we forget it. Sometimes I have to say it here, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And I couldn’t be more flattered that my own blood, the magical Emilia is going to be flattering the seaweed sisters by creating a remake of the seaweed sisters. First video. So thrilled, please do be on the lookout. I will gladly be sharing that on the socials over at words that move me podcasts. And on my personal probably I’m DanaDaners on the gram. All right. That’s my win. Had to get it out. Thank you for listening to that. Now, what is your win? What’s going well in your world in particular, who and what are you inspiring these days? Obviously I’m open to any answer. The answer to my question was a seven year old. I’m here for all of it.  

All right. My friend, congrats and keep winning. I’m so proud of you and I know you can do it forever. Okay. Let’s get into this interview today. I’m so jazzed to be sharing this conversation with you guys. This was part of three interviews that I did in collaboration with my friends over at CLI studios. Over the summer, they had a 2020 dance experience. And during that 2020 experience words that move me and CLI teamed up to hold these three interviews. I talked to Heather Morris, Dexter Carr. And today I am sharing with you the conversation that I had with the one and only Joshua Smith. Josh is a person that I had been admiring from afar for quite a while, but he and I had never met before this day, before we actually sat down and had this conversation, I was a little nervous. I’ll be totally honest, but Josh was completely open, so friendly, so warm and so tremendously insightful. I was, I was wrapped. Top-to-bottom so engaged and so excited. So I hope you are too. I hope you get a lot out of this conversation. I know Josh has a lot to offer, um, tiny little backstory on Josh. He’s born in Durham, North Carolina. He moved to Atlanta when he was young. He has absolutely made his mark on the entertainment industry by performing with mega stars like Usher and Chris Brown. He actually won the 2019 soul train award for best dance performance in Chris Brown’s video, No Guidance. He is an outstanding teacher. He champions a healthy mindset. He champions hard work, and I am just so thrilled for you. Let’s not wait any longer. Enjoy this conversation with Josh Smith. 

Dana: Hi everybody. I’m Dana.

Josh: I’m Josh. 

Dana: And this is words that move me on CLI how lucky are we? We’re so lucky. And so are you, I might add I’m I know I’m saying that at the top of the interview, maybe I should have reserved that until the end, but, um, I think you’re in for a treat because I feel privileged to be sitting here talking to you today. Josh, I’m so excited. Um, I want to start with this. I know your other half Lindsay. She and I have had, I have had the honor and the pleasure of working with her before, but our professional paths have never crossed. So answer me this is the dance world big or is it very, very small? We like to say it’s such a small world, but I’m like, how has this never happened?  

Josh: I think it is a small world. I think just, uh, it’s different avenues. You know what I’m saying? Cause I’ve definitely heard about you and definitely seeing you around for sure. And I think he just different pathway, you know, different artists. We are different. However, we go, so he never got to meet, but this is the perfect time. And we’re here.  

Dana: It is. I’m so excited. I have a million D questions and they’re all right here and I should have written them maybe somewhere else, but that’s risky. So let’s start at the almost beginning. I won’t go into birth, but, um, I understand that growing up, you were very athletic soccer, football. Am I missing anything?  

Josh: Baseball, basketball, you name it? I ran track for a little bit. I was on the step team. I was in band and I was a drum major.  

Dana: Just a couple of extracurriculars. Thanks. Alright. So when I grew up, I, my only extracurricular was dance and I feel a little bit shortsighted in my experience of like team building and learning myself. And I, I really kind of have become sort of an indoor cat more or less. So I’m always really curious when I hear the discussion about dancers are athletes and dance is a sport. I’m curious about that, cause I, because I’m not an athlete I well, or am I, I don’t know. I’m asking you like, where do you stand on dance as a sport and dancers are athletes,  

Josh: Dance is definitely a sport. And definitely because we have the same traits and characteristics between the two, you know, you have a coach, you have a choreographer, you know, you have people who are on a team, you know, whether it’s a camp or it’s a team. So where it’s togetherness as we both, we all have to go through these eight hours and there’s regular rehearsals or practice four hours. So the togetherness of it, it’s a team aspect. And then we do have to stretch and keep our body warm and all that we do high magnitude like moves and impact on our bodies is so much. And, uh, it very, very, very, very close. So I do consider dancers as athletes, for sure. Like it’s, it’s a, the same similarities, tough times, blood, sweat, tears, you know, and we, we run it together and that’s how you gotta do it. So if you think that way as a sports, which you are an athlete, then that’s what it is.  

Dana: Don’t give me too much confidence. Now you might see me on a field of some sort like, no, I can do this. I’m an athlete. Trust me, tombe pas de bourses. Um, okay. So what is different? Could you put a finger on a difference between a dancer and an athlete or are we just straight up 

Josh: You know, I guess it’s different because a basketball player and a football player, not the same, you know, and you’re an athlete, but it’s different magnitude and impact on your body. And I think with that being said, like soccer is more endurance than physical. You know, it is physical, but it’s more endurance, but football is very physical. And the thing about dancing is different genres are different, uh, style of dance for quiet. That b-boy is more physical. You know what I’m saying? And ballet is physical, but in a different way, it’s more a up core, so, and very on your legs. Well, so when you think about it in that way, in that aspect, you know, it’s different, but, um, there’s different way of going about it. Right?  

Dana: Right. I like that. I think there’s so many different, you know, dances and artistic expression. It’s nuanced, it’s subjective. It’s not even from one style to the next is not the same. You’re reminding me of a mantra that I, that I harness with my fellow, my two best friends, Megan Lawson and Jillian Meyers, shout out the seaweed sisters. We have a saying, um, our saying is strength is not our strength, but in every sport strength, isn’t the value. Um, it’s focus, placement, endurance, all the things that you just mentioned. So that is cool. I like to now think of the seaweed sisters as athletes as well, even though, even though strength is not our strength, we have different strengths.  

Josh: Shout out to y’all because y’all are amazing. 

Dana: Thank you so much, man. 

Josh: Lindsay was he was giving me a .. rundown, I knew you got, but she gave me a rundown on the seaweed sisters. And I didn’t know about that.  

Dana: You got research, you had research before you came into the interview as well. No vice versa. Okay. Okay. Speaking of research, I learned that you want a soul train award in 2019 for No Guidance for Chris Brown. That’s a, that’s a very cool, very prestigious thing because soul train, obviously this is not something that people have decided is new and important, but been around for a very long time. Um, my question is broadly, what is your relationship with external validation? Because a lot of people seek the awards, the credits, the, you know, the relationships and having a credit like that, having an award like that is a pretty big deal. Was that ever a thing that drove you?  

Josh: That’s a great question. Um, honestly how my mentality is, I think that, uh, I always looked at it like, yes, I want the awards and I want some know some feedback and people to see my name, but honestly not really, you know, I’m not that type of guy, but not really because even now within my stage of my career, which I’m honored and like so thankful and blessed to be in, you know, I’m not really in the forefront. I don’t, you don’t really see my face too much. I, I do teach when I want to teach. I’m not a teacher of saying that I just want to teach because I just want to get some money to go around the world and teach, see my name. I love teaching when it feels right for me and everything I teach is probably what I’m going through at that moment. So if I teach a ratchet piece, because I want to have fun and not really thinking about doing moves. And sometimes I might, this one, I felt, uh, empathy for so much and you know, vulnerability with this piece I just made and I wanted something way more relaxed to calm my mind down. Cause I didn’t want to have to fake on camera. I don’t like faking anything. So, you know, I, I, I take that with my own personality. I don’t like faking anything. So I don’t seek validation. I like, I go kind of street smarts and I’m really I’m. I was raised in the streets with it and have great family. So not in a bad way, but more so I had street smarts in the sense of, I liked to think. People will know you when they need to know you and the right people should know you. So my whole thing is maybe not millions of people know who I am, but the right people are knowing me because they keep asking me to come back around. And that’s what I want to get to outreach to. You know what I’m saying? They know the people who want to be inspired and thank God they’re inspired by me. I want it to bestow it to people. And everyone knows you can fall in between whenever you get there.

Dana: It’s beautiful. Put a Bow on it and ship it. That sort of speaks to the notion of quality over quantity and being driven by the substance or the process even of the work instead of the end result itself. Yeah.  

Josh: Yeah. You can’t know a lot of people do the work and I want to say a lot, but I know people tend to work for the outcome. Oh, I know there’s going to be great. People are gonna love me. Oh my God. Like, I’m going to get this love, but it’s like, to me, I want you to love it. Not just because of me. I want you to love the work in its entirety. So then when you do realize its me like, wow, Josh, you did that. But I don’t really like shouting out to telling people, look at me, look what I did. Look what I choreographed. I did that. No, I want people to get their credit even assistants So whoever is involved is you’re right. You know what I’m saying? Just as my right. 

Dana: That’s a really good segue. Something I hadn’t planned on talking about this really important to me is crediting your team. Um, I know that you kind of came up through ranks as being a dancer and an assistant. I would love to know what your experience was in getting credit for the work and how that’s affected the way you credit the people on your team.  

Josh: Yes. Um, so, uh, when I started, no, I started with a crew when I moved to LA. I’m not originally from Atlanta. A lot of people think that it’s like a side note, but I’m from Durham, North Carolina research research right there. So Durham, North Carolina. And, um, I moved to Atlanta and I had a crew collision crew, Jeremy Strong, and a couple of people was in that and Cody was affiliated Cody Wiggins. And uh, you know, I had good people surrounding me the whole entire time. And loyalty is a big thing for me. Cause I will be loyal to you. And if my friends or whoever you work with, we know you can be a millionaire and I can still say no, if it doesn’t feel right, you know what I’m saying? So, and I got into the Jamaica Craft, my mentor, fix it, big homie friend, all that great stuff.  

Dana: And so talented. 

Josh: Like that’s like, you know, a big, big homie of mine. And uh, she taught me law too. You know, as much as she didn’t her career and what she’s continues to do, she, um, trusted me and she showed me the ropes. She showed me what it means to be really a dancer and be a dancer with power. She doesn’t, she told me, I had my manager, China who taught me to say the power of no. And, and saying that don’t look and seek people who will you think are already made it. And you’re getting to that place. When you get to that place, I have to leave my team behind to go meet this person. When all you should really do is bring this person with you to meet each other. So then for, because you know, for a fact, this person has made it already, but this person has rolled with me the whole time. So loyalty is a big thing with me. And then when my loyalty, Jamaica has taught me that and uh, she always held me down. She never did no weird, nothing crazy. Like when this job it’s a job, when she hit me and I said, add for advice. And she was very secretive. Cause he wasn’t like, she was not a person you can get around in Jamaica. Right. When I got around her, if she installed so much knowledge, you know their stuff so much ambition, you know? And like I had it already, but she just said, you know, you’re talented and never let anyone take that away from you. Like not even me, like go as far as you can inspire people as you can. She, the one who told me the right people would see you, even if it got to take four years, cause it’s four or five years ago, nobody really seen me. I was still, you know, I was dance for usher. I didn’t live in LA. I was still going, but no one really knew me, but that’s what I, like I say, no, it’s cool. The attention, not on me right now, but when it is, I’ll be ready.  

Dana: I love that attitude. That’s awesome. Thank you for that insight. That’s super cool. Yeah. I, I like to think of the notion that it’s lonely at the top as kind of a lie I would like for it to be very, um, crowded and friendly at the top. I think that that is the top that I want to make.  

Josh: I tell people all the time there is room at the table, man. But the good thing to know is, is when you get there, you earned it. But now it’s about holding it. Keep it don’t show it. Don’t talk to me. Why aren’t you? Yeah. You are under a lot of people earned this seat, but do they get to stay here? Longevity? A thing for me, I don’t want to be I’m young. I’m still 28 now. I mean, I said 28 I’m 27. I want to be 28 years here, but I’m 27. And like, um, I think that, I know I have a long way to go. We know people who I do look up to is Rich & Tones and Fatima and Jamaica and hi-hat, these are people who have longevity. These are people who, their generation, another generation and generation after that, they’re still here. You know what I’m saying? And that’s something that I wanted. So I don’t live for now all the time, which I have to do more, but I’m more so like I want my name to be great for years to come. So  

Dana: I’m going to ask a question now, what’s your plan for that? How do you, how do you achieve that? Um,  

Josh: I’ve been trying it so far, I don’t have the right answers for that, but being a good person, training really stunning and really knowing who and knowing that it’s time with this, but knowing who you are, you know, like I never tried to be perfect or within relationship within, you know, dance. I’m very, very open book. I’m very like, I like to base myself on with, you know, even my own demons or whatever it’s and find me. So if I know I can be the better version of myself and truly be the better version, don’t have to worry about Limelights or personas or you know, all that good stuff. I’ll be okay now eventually I will make it there. So I don’t know when I will make it there.  

Dana: I believe that you will, by the way you’re talking right now and I want to be there at the end too, right? Yes. Longevity is so important to me. One of my mentors and inspirations is Toni Basil. She’s 76 years old and could roast me right now like me and my 30 something year 34, a few days ago, self, 

Josh: Happy belated birthday! 

Dana: Thank you. Thank you. Um, and, and I think part of Basil’s secret to success is persistence. Every single day, she dances, even when she doesn’t want to dance, she does. And I think that that’s something speaks to what you just mentioned about bringing all versions of yourself might not be perfect today. It might not be happy today. It might not be the coolest moves today, but continuing to show up is how you continue to show up. It’s simple as that. It’s nothing earth shattering, no simple, not easy though. Simple, not easy. Um, okay. I’d love to segue into like perception and persona public, um, public presence, maybe dare I say social presence. Um, one of the things that I really admire about you and the way you use your voice, not just in your choreography, but in the social platform is that you’re not afraid to talk about things that are important to you. Yes. The black lives matter movement is tremendously important to you and to so many people. Thank goodness. And we’ll find out we’ll find out yes. If this is something that can be important to everyone. Yes. But, um, I, in this process of learning the world that I live in and becoming really working to become more culturally sensitive when I watched dance, like when I consume dance and when I make it, and here’s what I’m learning that takes time. I mean, it’s very easy to scroll and watch a piece. Yes. But if you want to be sensitive, what you’re watching culturally, racially and otherwise, yes. You are asking, who is this person? Where is this person from? What is this person experience? Where is this person going? What, what does this mean? Like, what does that mean? What does it mean when this person kneels versus when this person kneels, what is the meaning of a movement? So then you have to like, you go, you wind up looking. So a scroll is now taking three and a half hours. I get why people don’t do that. It’s a lot. And, and it doesn’t even, you might not necessarily wind up at right or better, or, but, but it’s responsible and it’s an important time to be. And also we do have time arguably to be doing that. So my question is that was a very long winded way of asking your question, is what might people think about your work on a scroll and what might they learn by going deeper? Okay.  

Josh: Okay. Well through dance or just on my page in general.  

Dana: Oh man. Let’s talk about dance,  

Josh: Dance. Okay. So hopefully when you see, when you scroll through my stuff quality. Cause I, I strive for that. You know, I I’ve danced as we all dance for years, but I’ve tried hard, I can say to not master, but in a sense perfect my style, you know, and I’m moving away that I will love for you to be like that. It’s nice that you know much about this guy, but he looks good.  

Dana: Achieved, achieved party of one because when I watch, I’m like, nice. Really? Truly like that word probably happens a lot. Yeah.  

Josh: I like that. Just be like, Oh, nice swell. Okay. Then after that, I will hope that you will feel to want to know even a little about me by, because I like to details. Like, even if it’s the slightest thing I like to, why do you, like you might see, you know, I realized that I’ve seen Josh’s clips that he wears all black a lot. Why is that?


Dana: Great example, great example.  

Josh: It makes you dig in deeper and it makes you want to see more about me. Like, cause I am like, again, open book. I like wearing my beard, whether it’s clean or not. No, I had this beanie. Why did he have this been here?  

Dana: I’ve I’ve heard the beanies of thing. Why, why do you have the beanie on all the tests?  

Josh: It was when I was on tour with usher, uh, I was finding myself as a dancer. That’s when I really found just so you know, that’s when I really found myself, like right after that tour, um, as a mover, I had Kento, I had Yusuke. I had Antonio Hudnell, I had Marvelous. I had Quita, you know, Ashley Everett, you know? So it, it was like a lot of power Naeemah, you know what I mean? And um, we did yoga and all this things and it was like, it was just very togetherness. And um, I found my style and uh, I don’t want to drop the question. Tell me the question one more time. Sorry.  

Dana: Um, Oh gosh, no, I lost the question. Specifically. The beanie, is there a story? Why is it the, what is it? Is it a signature? It’s a thing. Yeah,  

Josh: It’s a signature for sure. And I found it on tour after tour and I was, I used to wear like a towel.. on my pocket. Every time I go on stage, because you know, when you go on carver, doesn’t really give you the freedom to be like, this is where whatever you think is fly. So Jamaica was like, you scanned kento. They had really a box of shades. Yeah,  Like 30 pair of shades. And that box every night, they changed different shades. What they want to wear with that outfit. So she was like, Josh, if you want to wear a towel, whatever, whatever do your thing. Cause she told him about Swoop back in the day and he used to wear his gloves. You know what I mean? So like, it’s like, what is your sauce? When you step out to make you feel like that’s going to be the best you when you’re on stage. So I had a towel and then eventually I see Tone and Tone used to wear, his, his, uh, his hat regular though, you know, regular stuff. And he’d have his towel tied up tights on. Cause he came from the ballet. Right. He was very like protecting his body. I got to stay warm. So I was like, what’s my little niche. I like, and I don’t want to be a gimmick. But I just want my own little sauce, you know what I’m saying? It belong to me. So one day I had my beanie up in the house now I rolled it and I kept rolling it. And I wrote up high, like a little sailors hat. I was like, I’m not mad at it. So I did it a couple of people, a couple of years, people was like, why you got your hat like that? I’m like, Hmm. It didn’t eventually everyone caught on. And now it’s weird. I didn’t start it. But I see people now like there’s hats that made like this now, like, and people ask me, where do you get your hat from? I said, to be your supply store, a gas station really.. I just rolled it up certain way. And then rock it. So it’s been stuck ever since.  

Dana: I love it. I love it. I think there’s something so unique about dancers and getting to feel this like very this like in your body difference, depending on what you’re wearing.  

Josh: Oh, that’s a big thing. I mean, it’s a big thing right there. You can be in rehearsal for three months and then you go on stage. He was like, this is what I’m wearing. I lost all the feelings.  

Dana: 20/20 Experience is a perfect example. I love a loose pant. I mean, borderline put me in a burlap sack. We’re good. I just space and air. And then all of a sudden I’m in a high waist, high crotch it, all of it. And it really, it changes. It changes things, um, in the way you feel. But it also changes the visual, like your center of gravity is now high, different shapes. Look good up here. Then the shapes that look it down here. So it’s a part of it and it flatters the outline, the silhouette. I love it. It’s great. Okay. So we’re back though. The tough, the more, not tougher question, because ask answering questions about your signature and your style is not easy and finding your signature and your style is not easy. I don’t mean to downplay that at all, but um, I’m wondering when people dig deep on you, what is it that you want them to find? What is it that they find now? And is that what you want them?  

Josh: I want them to find that honestly, first off I’m a genuine person. You know, that’s what, that’s just what I tell. When I talk to people, when I dance, I’m very vulnerable and I want you to see that I’m a genuine person. And I see that. I take my craft very seriously. And to know that my whole goal is to inspire. My dad taught me back in the day. He always taught me this. I had a story and I won’t go too long in it, but pretty much saying your gift is not for you. You’re gifted for people. God gave you the gift to make people smile and make people happy. So no matter what, whenever you do in your career, if you keep that in mind, you can never lose. So that’s what I’ve tried to give up on my Instagram and my dancing. And when I talk to people, I give so much energy people. How can you give so much energy all the time? You always, so I say, because it’s not for me, you know what I mean? It’s for, it’s for the people who can’t do it for the people who want to do it for the people, even when I was in that stage in my life. And I wish I could be there. Cause you know, you tend to get to a place and you’re like, dang, I still need to get to this place. But it’s like, did you remember when you wanted to be in this place right now? So, you know, I kind of always go back to that and tell people, look at me in genuine light and know that I love what I do.  

Dana: Ugh, thank you for sharing that story. That’s so important. And I’m glad that we had time. I think we have time for one more. Um, in, in my research, um, I discovered that you have a favorite quote. I am a masterpiece that is trying to master peace. Yes. Would you be so kind as to share with us anything you’ve learned in your quest for mastering peace? 

Josh: Yes. I got it tatted on me, man. 

Dana: Let’s hear it. Let’s see it.  

Josh: Yeah. So it’s back here, you know, you really can’t see, I know you can’t see it too much, but I got that quote, my masterpiece, trying to masterpiece because you know, within our own right, we are artists. No, I am an artist. I am sensitive about my art and I love what I do, man. And like, I’m a massive piece that we all are in ourselves and God has given us the right to feel that, you know, no one can take that away from you. And like that goes to parenting. I had great parents who made me feel that love that no one else can take that from me and trying to match the peace because I am an Aries and I’m a fire sign and I can get, I am very passionate so I can get to a very high level of aggression, you know, because out of my passion, but knowing that I want to master peace, I want to be able to be levelheaded and, and, and think clearly and move with purpose. You know what I’m saying? Move with purpose, move with a divine plan, move knowing sometimes I’m not going to have the answer. That’s why I’m a masterpiece trying to masterpiece  

Dana: Trying emphasis. And that’s a constant, right? Because the moment you’ve achieved it, something is gonna happen.  

Josh: And that’s why I kind of remind myself, like I’m trying to masterpiece, you know what I mean? That’s the thing. That’s the biggest thing for me, because I don’t want to handle relationships or friends or, you know, business offer like, you know, anger or upset. Because back in the day I used to just get upset and I just cut people off. I don’t want to talk. I’m cool. Like, cause I’m not a loner, but I’m, I’m comfortable. So comfort with myself for being alone. I’m comfortable being alone. I went through enough in my life that I’m like, I respectfully bow out. We don’t have to be friends. We don’t have to be here. We don’t have to do work. I’m okay. I’ll make it. I’ll find a way to make it. So I don’t want to have to leach or you have to leach you off of me. We can stop it. Now. Now I’m saying, but now mastering the peace that knowing that relationships are good and talking through things is the best way to do it because communication is key  

Dana: With, with a person. But also the self was so like, if you, it sounds like you were a person who’s okay with being with yourself. And if you can master like peace within, you’re more prepared to achieve it, receive it out there in the world from other relationships. Yes. That’s awesome. I think it’s the, I think it, it should be, could be everyone’s right?  

Josh: Yes, man. Like, you know, I think everyone, we, if we move non selfishly, like, and just know that everyone can be great within your own, right. Doesn’t have to oversize and overstep. You don’t have to move that way. You know what I’m saying? And I know sometimes within not feel the industry, the, it can get very tricky, right. But everyone can move a certain way to get to a certain place, you know? And that’s why you got a room at the top. There’s always room.  

Dana: We have to like change this, this imagery of it being a mountain with a peak and a flag. That’s one person’s flag to being like, Ooh, what if it was just an, also a mountain, but upside down,  

Josh: Upside down,  

Dana: Ascending is going to be way harder. Cause you’re in an inversion. But I, yeah, I think that that’s possible. There’s the saying I’m going to botch it. I’m not going to get it right. Um, but one, one matches flame does not take away the light from another, like this match being over here and bright and lit doesn’t mean that this one is going to be dim, light it up, let there be light illuminate. I think that’s another one that my husband has gifted me. Light is the best disinfectant. And I think that in this time we’re shedding light on a lot of things and  

Josh: Which, which needs to happen. And these are steps they need to happen. Black lives does matter, you know? And like, I’m just going to put this out there. You know? No one wants to say that no other lives matter. We say that because like you said, you might not know the generational, like depression that we had over the years that I’ve experienced because I am from the South. So, you know, I’ve like no cultural and police brutality and all that stuff. Since I was like 13, you know what I mean? As a black man in the world. So no I had the police talk and even me now talking to my friends, knowing that they didn’t have the same talk that I would have grown up. So  

Dana: The conversations is training and experience  

Josh: The same experience. So just to say that we all have love for each other. We just want to come at peace with everybody in the world and live our life exactly how everyone knows can live that life.  

Dana: Yes. Josh, thank you so much. I have nothing left to say, except for, thank you. Thank you for being here and being open, um, for somebody that I’ve honestly not before today, shared word in person words, right? I feel like we could do this for a very long time and I hope that we get to, I would love to spend more time with you and Lindsey. I’m such a fan of your moves. They’re so nice. And it’s really nice to get to know what’s what’s beneath them as well.  

Josh: Well, it’s the kinjaz 

Dana: Yeah. We’re going to throw it to the Kinjaz. There’s a cipher. Josh and I are going to go. You guys should go. I think it’s a very exciting time to have dance and have community and you can feel connected even at six feet distance. You can feel connected even on the other side of your computer screen. Um, and I’m excited actually now to be digging deeper because you mentioned people not knowing, not having known you before. And I love a deep dive. So where could I go to find more of you Josh  

Josh: Thats the bad thing, I’m horrible at social media. I’m just now I’m about to get my YouTube started out.  

Oh, okay. But we’ll be on the lookout  

Josh: And we don’t look out my damn, uh, my Instagram Dasher underscore boys Smith. That’s pretty much on Twitter and everything else. Uh, watch out for any upcoming projects. I do have old clips that you could probably look at on YouTube, but ask me, y’all gotta go dig on that.  

Dana: You’re going to dig on that. You know, I’m going to dig on that. Yeah.  

Josh: Hey Dana, I appreciate you, man. Thank you so much.  

Dana: She’s lovely talking to you and thank you CLI thank you everybody watching and listening. I had a ball. Let’s go cipher. Let’s do it. I wore the wrong shoes for sure. Definitely going to have a blister. If there’s a lot of dancing, I should have made my signature thing. Socks, really comfortable socks. That’s my signature. Move that way. I’ll always have them. Okay. Enough enough on me. Thank you so much, Josh. We’ll talk to you later! 

Dana: All right. All right. I hope you got as much out of that conversation as I did. I absolutely loved hearing Josh talk about the relationship between being an athlete and being a dancer. I thought it was fascinating to hear him talk about his relationship to the public perception of him, his work and social media. I also loved hearing from Josh about the importance of activism in his life and using his voice and in supporting his community. To me, this is a hugely important part of our work as artists, as makers, and especially as teachers. So cheers to you, Josh, thank you so much for being such a great example for all of us and thank you all for listening. Enjoy the rest of your day afternoon, night, whatever it is. And of course keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.

 Thought you were done? No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a weight change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more. All right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #20 The Past, Present, and Future of LIVE Shows with Iggy Rosenberg

Ep. #20 The Past, Present, and Future of LIVE Shows with Iggy Rosenberg

 
 
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My guest, Iggy Rosenberg, has worked his way from NightClubs in Buenos Aires, to Crew Chief on the biggest concert tours of our time.  Then he flexed his creative muscles as a Lighting Designer in the concert and corporate worlds and now he is the Director of Business Development at Lightswitch a mega visual design firm.  That is more than 27 years of work on LIVE SHOWS.   In this episode, we talk about how Tour life has prepared us for Quarantine,  and how Zoom is to Dance as Kindle is to a books.

Show Notes

Quick Links:

 Iggy Rosenberg

Lightswitch

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: Hello and welcome to episode 20. Thank you so much for being here. How are you feeling today? I am feeling appreciated. Yeah. Appreciated. I’ve been seeing new daily doers doing incredible things and I see some day oners that have been listening to the podcast since the very beginning that are well into their hundreds of daily doing, doing daily. I am so proud of you all and um, go back and listen to episode one if you have no clue what I’m talking about right now. Great. Also, just more broadly, thank you all for your messages, support, encouragement. I’m getting a lot of feedback via email and direct messages and tags on IG, so thank you for all of that love. I’m glad that you’re digging the pod. And if you are new here, welcome. I know that you’re going to find some grade a information and inspiration here, especially in this episode. I am jazzed about it, super confident that you’re going to dig this and I’m excited to get into it.

But first let’s talk wins. My win this week is that I’ve been wearing these um, blue blocker, like blue light blocking glasses and loving the way my eyeballs feel. Yes, that’s the thing that I consider is eyeball feel. Um, right out of the gate. This is definitely not a paid endorsement. I have no relationship with the makers of these glasses. Um, but I’m finding them super helpful and I thought that that would be a good one to share because light plays a huge part in this episode. Wink, wink, teaser, teaser. Um, so back to these weird blue blocker glasses. I want to first preface this by saying they’re not FDA regulated because they are not medicine. And there is honestly a lot of debate around whether or not they’re helpful or just hype. But the glasses I bought were only 17 bucks. So I figured I would just see for myself, see what I did there. See anyways, so I’ve been wearing them for about four days and um, honestly I’ve noticed some improvement by the end of each night. My eyes aren’t stinging, my head isn’t pounding and I’m getting to sleep super fast. Granted that could be for 100 other reasons. It very well could be a placebo effect, but for less than $20 I will take the sugar pill. If I think it’s working and it’s not causing me any harm, then who cares? So I have added these amazing to me glasses to our words that move me Amazon shopping list where you can find all of the other gadgets and gizmos and good reads that I mentioned here on the podcast and that Amazon shopping list can be found on the show notes to this episode, episode 20 on my website, theDanawilson.com So enjoy that. Oh, also a note, a word to the wise. I guess if you are editing photos or videos or working on anything where color is important, obviously make sure you check your work without the glasses on because they do change the way your screen looks pretty substantially. Okay, great. Lot of talk about glasses. Now you go, what’s your win? What’s going well in your world?  

Killer. All right, congrats. Keep crushing it. Okay. This week my guest is  Iggy Rosenberg, to put it very, very briefly. Iggy is illuminating. He got his start working in nightclubs in Buenos Aires. He’s from Argentina and has a great accent, unrelated. Then he worked as a roadie on big, big concert tours. Then he became a lighting designer and now he is the director of business at a major visual design firm called Lightswitch. Iggy has worked in just about every layer of live shows that there is and in this episode we peel back the layers and take a look at almost all of them. Without any further ado, here is my conversation with Iggy Rosenberg. 

Thank you so much for being here on the podcast today. Welcome and really quickly introduce yourself.  

Iggy: So my name is Iggy Rosenberg. I’m a lighting and production designer. I come from, I was born and raised in Argentina. I’m going to say this and I moved here in 2004, which seems incredible, uh, toured, for many, many years. Did a lot of rock and roll stuff, been around the world a few times. I’ve seen some really, really cool stuff. And then, uh, and then I made a break out of touring into the corporate world and I joined a design firm called, Lightswitch and last year I got promoted to director of business development. So I still design, uh, I still design a lot, I’ll never stop designing, but I’m, uh, I’m in charge of also finding clients and keeping clients and I’m finding new opportunities.  

Incredible. Okay. So your experience and training and skill set goes like many, many layers deep, um, all sides of the entertainment business. I guess. And I’m so curious about all of it. Maybe let’s start with touring. How would you introduce, or how would you explain the role of a crew chief to somebody that, and that’s what, that’s what you were on the road. How would you explain that role to somebody who knows nothing about being on tour?  

You know, you, you go, I think like any other job, you go through the levels, um, and you learn their systems and you learn how to build things. And then you go on the road and you’re the number five guy in a four man crew and you go up the positions and you keep learning. Yeah. Tours are an interesting beast and I think a lot of people maybe don’t realize that the actual touring party isn’t that big. Right? It takes a lot of people to build this. And the only way you can do this, especially with local labor, is to delegate. So you have a person that’s in charge of, like in my case, the lighting crew. And then we usually have like four or five people that work directly with me that they’re on the tour with us. Um, so we usually have someone that’s called it the Dimmer Tech.  He’s in charge of all the power distribution, all the cables. Uh, we’ll usually have a couple of guys that specialize in moving lights and repairing them and hanging them. But you have to keep that crew working with their local labor. So all I do is I will bounce between them to make sure they have everything they need and trying to stay ahead a couple steps ahead of what their next job is. Um, and then communicate with the production side, you know, with the stage manager, with the local store, with the production manager. So you’re kind of in between, between production and, and the sort of logistical side. The on the day I’m the worker bees running around building the shell.  

A lot more communication than I expected from that answer to be honest. Okay. So, um, I loaded out a couple of times. Um, yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah, the choreographer for the tour that I was on insisted because I was a rookie. It was my first world tour with, um, JT. It was the future sex love show tour and the choreographer, Marty Kudelka, who I just had on the podcast said like, before this tour is over, you must, must load out. I had made friends with a couple of the carps by that point. So, uh, we did it. My, my best friend and I, Ava Bernstein on that tour, we load it out and it was a fully like four hour, the dirtiest my hands have ever been in my life at the end of that load out a beer and pizza had never tasted so good. It was, it was really hard work. So how much would you say of your time was split between the really hands on grunt work and then the communication? Like the delegation?  

Uh, you know, there’s a, I like to be active. Uh, I was always a climber, so I was, I would go up and climb on the rigs. There is a moment, you know, I know nowadays, especially now that I’m a designer, I, I’m not really allowed to push stuff around, um, for insurance purposes. Uh, but I tell people I’ve, you seen me with a harness, like something’s gone terribly wrong. Like if I’m climbing somewhere, like, like I always had like one truss to build or two, but I couldn’t spend too much time in that because the more time I spent heads down looking at what I’m doing, I can’t look at the team. So you, I had something I would help, I would jump in wherever else needed help. Um, but most of it was you just, it was a giant spiral. You just keep going between the teams making sure.  And a big thing is you’re just looking at the very big picture, right? Because the guys have their small picture and then the local stations have even smaller because they don’t know the tour. They just, that’s the first time they’ve seen it, that they, so you give them smaller bits to work on and then I have the bigger picture and then, you know, the stage manager has even bigger picture. So you kind of have to stay a few steps away from doing the groundwork. Uh, I do. And this is different shows and different tours at different mentalities where I came from, the crew chief, uh, would load and certify the trucks at the end, make sure that they were safe and they were loaded and you make the packs and you make sure because you have to load them in a way that makes sense on the way in. Um, so you, I would load all the trucks, uh, you know, most of the times or have someone help me with, you know, we could do multiple at a time, but that was the biggest sort of thing was dumping in the morning, making sure everything went to the right places, um, during the day, making sure that you, so you load in thinking about the load out. You can’t bury yourself cause then you’re, you know, you screw yourself in the end.  

Cool. I love this. Um, Oh it’s making me miss tour life. I think it’s very odd, very ironic that tour life is kind of a perfect training for quarantine life. I say that it’s, I say that as ironic because obviously on tour you are almost constantly surrounded by other people. But being on the road taught me how to communicate from great distances. Right? Like I was keeping in touch with my fiance, now my husband, with my family, you know, you get real good at FaceTime and Skype. My last tour was before zoom was cool, but you get good at communicating with people that are far away. You get good at communicating in general. But also how to live with less. Like you have two suitcases and, and you don’t have the things that you quote need like my blue bottle coffee or my trader Joe’s weird items.  Like you, you become far away from the things that you’re used to. And that is a reminder of how we can be resourceful and how we can live with less, which I think is a beautiful gift of this time. Um, but it also teaches you how to be adaptable and makes you cherish home, which is, which is something that we’re all, um, maybe getting a little sick of right now. But other than other than this like big picture muscle that you got really strong at, what are the other essential skills and mindsets that you took away from tour life?  

You know, there’s well, in general tour life beyond my role and I’ve always been a big proponent of this and I’ve always talked to my clients about this and until this day, I’m a big believer that particularly the live entertainment industry, unlike any other industry in the world where you can call someone that in any other job is your direct competitor. Like, like I’ve had production managers had to go to their kids’ weddings and they’ve called another production manager to come fill in for a week. And I said, calling the CEO of your competitor company to let come fill in and know that in a week like you’re going to come back and the guy’s going to go, well there’s your show back again. And you know that it’s okay. We’re all friends. It’s a community that really lives and breathes upon the relationships and the friendships that you generate. We’re very lucky to consider, you know, our clients, our friends, we treat them with the same level of respect. And sometimes maybe you say the things that we tell friends and, but that is, that is a big sense of community because you are, you know, somebody told me once we had a wardrobe girl that was, it was her first tour. She came from TV and she’s like, you guys are always so angry. I’m like, well, will you see us doing a load? And I’m like, you have to understand there’s, there’s, there’s 90 people that Oh one their stuff to be in the same place at the same time. Yeah. It gets kind of tense, but after we’re done it’s like, Oh, let’s go have lunch, let’s go have lunch. And everybody’s fine. Like there is no animosity. I mean it does happen of course, but, but that sense of, of, of cooperation and community is like the best thing that comes out of that. And then probably the ability to panic last.  

Ah, yes. 

After, after you see enough things go wrong. Yeah. I tell people that because I used to be, I used to be a very angry roadie in the beginning of my career and then nothing happened. It just stopped. It was a very odd, like, there wasn’t like an enlightened, like nothing, you know? No, no sun beam came down and like shone on me. Uh, but now one of my things I say is like, you know, if the stage is on fire, yelling at the fire isn’t going to make it go away. Like you either let it burn or you go get the fire extinguisher. So you learn how not to panic. And nowadays it’s like, yeah, fuck it, let’s fix it or not fix it. But let’s, you know, everybody’s stopped yelling and running around. It’s okay.  

 It’s okay. Yes. That, that’s the other, um, quarantine prep. That life on tour has taught me when you’re working on really tight timelines and relatively high stakes circumstances, right? Like, you know, the doors are gonna open at seven o’clock and 70,000 people are going to come in here expecting to see this show and X isn’t working. Right. So we, we’ve gotten really good at responding to things.  

Yeah. Like we’ve, we’ve had, uh, I had, I remember one of my first doors, uh, I don’t know why don’t exact, I don’t remember the whole thing. It was a while ago. Well we ended up with a bunch of smoke machine liquid on the stage. So the stage was I got a bit of a ice rink. It was either really cold or something. But yeah, I mean the dancers were like, we can’t do this anymore. So we had to go and spray Coke. And again, between numbers, like while the artist was speaking in the front, there was a bunch of guys behind like spraying Coke on the floor cause cause this is where like, you know, it’s, it’s impossible. It affects everyone.  

That’s a really good example of responding to emergencies with creativity. And like I, the Coke, Coca Cola is an interesting tool. I’ve used it in classrooms as well as onstage. Um, I remember a show with JT that we did the Stade De France. Um, it was an, it’s an outdoor venue. It’s a soccer stadium and it was raining that day, which made for a really like Epic performance of Cry Me A River. Um, but it also was really, really dangerous. And I remember right before the show when it was just like misting our wardrobe, head of wardrobe started off sticking sandpaper on the bottom of our shoes, like double stick sandpaper. And I was like, I’ve never seen nor would I have ever thought of that. It was a great solution. So again, tour life, preparing you for real life, let’s get creative, let’s solve problems.  

Tour life is ripe with opportunities to problem solve in a world where you’re doing the same show over and over, like sometimes hundreds of times. I’m continually continuously, continually, you know what constantly impressed at the number of things, even the number of new things that can go wrong. Another thing that’s unique to touring life as Iggy mentioned is that although it is a very competitive industry, there are so few people that get to do it and get to doing it really, really well. That when it comes to finding a substitute or a fill in of some sort, it’s not uncommon to ask your competitor to do that for you. Just imagine that for a second. So wild. It’s so wild to me. And that’s just the beginning of the, that is tour life. Iggy and I exchanged wild tour stories for quite a while, but you simply have to hear about who’s tour shut down a military airport. Want to take a guess if you guys correctly, I want to know that you guessed correctly. So send me a direct message, let me know words that move me podcast on Instagram. Okay, back we go.  

I toured with Paul McCartney for a couple of years. I couldn’t really understand the apeal of the Beatles and stuff. I just, it wasn’t my generation. I wasn’t exposed to it until I did my tour and I was like, I get it. Like I get the a hundred thousand people in a stadium, you know, and it was just one of those monster shows where you get charted everywhere. It was amazing. Uh, but we, we saw some weird stuff in the tour and one of them we do literally, they shut down an airport because the radar, it was a military airport and their radar, every time they swung around would turn off and on all the video walls. And the promoter called the airport and the military captain or whatever, the guy in terms of the military airport went like, well, you know, we’ll turn it off if that’s the case. And it was, and we’re like, well, you know, it’s an airport, but we’ll have to figure out what to do with it. He goes, well, I don’t know. We’ll just, we’ll just turn it off. We’ll turn both of them off. Nuts! 

That’s nuts. Holy smokes.  

Its Paul Macartney, he gets away with it. You like, people will do whatever he needs to, you know.  

Wow. The, the power, the power. Um, okay. So on the road as crew chief, uh, you got to know the artists. You got to know big audiences. You, you got to see shows like on the ground, and then you became a designer, sort of transitioned into the, the artistic side. Um, and you must have been up to your ears and software and tech and all sorts of things. I don’t even know come along with that profession. Um, could you actually explain the role and importance of a lighting designer for a live show?  

Yeah. And it depends a bit. I mean, now the things are a bit more combined. Back then there was a very big distinction between rock and roll and corporate and TV. Now, you know, everything has a camera. We all carry a camera with us. So, so we kind of have to light for everything. Like the essence of design is a, it’s the most elegant solution to a problem. So the thing is you’d have to reframe what your problems are. And for me there’s always three. There’s an artistic problem of how do we make this look good? How do we make the artists look good? How, or my now we do a little corporate, you know, how do we keep the brand and the theme of the show, there’s been, you know, the producers design a show and we have to keep that going. Um, how do we make them look good on camera, on to a live audience?  How are they comfortable on stage? There is a monetary problem, there’s always a budget. And how do we get the show with this amount of money? And that’s what a lot of our relationships with vendors come into play. Um, and then there’s a physical problem, which is I can design the biggest show in the world, all the money in the world. And if it doesn’t fit in the building or the building can hold the weight, then we go back to square one. So you have to balance all those, those three things. Um, some were in there and it’s not a problem, but it’s a thing you have to, there’s always also cooperation with other departments. You know, you have to talk to the video crew and make sure that, you know, our color temperature works with our cameras and talk to the sonic guy to know that he didn’t put a bunch of lights in front of a drape that’s gonna catch on fire.  Like a lot of times the older guys have to, they have a much more physics approach to things, to the situation. So kind of with the software tells them the speakers have to go, they have to go an something in front of like the, like the lights up the guys, but we have to move around, you know, you move two inches that way and I moved two inches this way and maybe we can make it work. So yeah, it’s a lot of balancing but, but I think those are the three main areas that we tend to juggle. So heat and as an audience member at a show, you might have no idea that all of that had to be considered. 

Oh, what else do you wish that people knew about what you do?  

Yeah, yeah. I can probably tell you, you know, like without lighting, it’s just, it’s just radio. But, uh, no, I think there is, and then maybe depends on where you come from. Is, is that whatever we do is for their enjoyment. Uh, I’m a big believer, I started in nightclubs in Argentina. I’m a big believer that people should attend an event and not go see one. So I tend to like the audience a lot more cause I want them to be a part of like, I think especially corporate after you’re there for 12 hours looking at a guy on stage, you want your environmental react to it. Um, but at the end goal is to help our clients tell their story and help the audience enjoy what they’re seeing.  

You talked a little bit about lighting for everything, um, in regards to TV or live or like a big stage show. Um, and then you referenced that being, because everybody now has a camera in their pocket. So has that made your job like exponentially difficult because things need to look good from all angles for all lenses? Like how do you even approach that task?  

Maybe not exponentially. It’s just added another layer that we need to balance. Um, there’s always been, and this is very probably very, very, you know, on the nose because you do work with, you know, you work in the dance community and there’s always been this little rift right between the techs and the dancers and, um, Oh, you know, we liked dancers so they look good for example, but we also have to make sure that they can see and they know what’s happening on stage. And then we’ve had many arguments many times of like, I can’t see the Mark and If l light the mark, you look terrible and you know, and then, and then we, then we have that second layer of what the audience sees. And then, and then we had to add, like there’s always cameras and I imagine, but it was never a thing. But now that since they’re there and they’re all HD and the screens are incredible, well, we’re going to like, so I like, usually I light my artists,  like they’re televised. Um, these iphones. They’re, they’re very forgiving, but we just don’t know. We don’t know if the CEO is up there doing his big speech, if he’s going to go backstage and watch it on a calibrated screen with a camera, the right angle, or if there’s an assistant that’s going to shoot the video that she showed in her iPhone, that from down here up his nose, you know, so it has to look good for everyone and people take these, they’re their memories. You know, nowadays, I mean, I don’t know if anyone goes back to look at it. I was scrolling through my photos and I was like, I can’t believe I still have these videos. I’ve never seen them. Um, but people have the intentions of good. I mean it’s, it’s part of our skillset to do it, so we should do it. 

Incredible. Great answer. Thank you. I’m fascinated at the difference. You’ve highlighted a few between corporate versus concert events. Um, what are, what are some standouts? Like what are, as far as your angle of getting a job done 

All right. Now this might come as a shock you, but I don’t spend much time at big corporate events. Even before the covid shut down. I was super interested to hear how, wow my wrist makes a snapping sound every time I twist it like this. The things you learn when you’re doing a podcast. Anyways, I was very interested to hear about how many factors a lighting designer has to take into consideration when they’re working for a big corporation. The audience, especially for example, a tour can blast an audience with light and lasers and strobes for an hour and a half and that’s fine. More or less, I mean, unless you’re pregnant or have other health conditions, but imagine being faced with that with like concert tour level lighting for eight hours a day for five days of a big conference or something. Oh wait, that’s basically Coachella. Okay, well imagine going to a yogurt land conference because if I went to a corporate event, it would be a yogurt land conference, but imagine a big yogurt studio event that was lit entirely red gross. Or imagine going to a big tech firms, new product reveal or a car reveal or something that’s lit. The way the play place at McDonald’s is lit. Very confusing, very not hot. So much respect to the lighting designers out there. Really consider that everything you see has been considered by someone else if they’re doing it right. That is okay. So now Iggy finds himself firmly on the business side of a business that is not so firm at all at the moment. Let’s hear Iggy’s take on the current state of live and in person events. From the business point of view.  

Three months ago, we, my schedule was so packed that I was going to be home for, I think it was something like five days and a couple of months. Uh, and, and in 48 hours living 40 hours, we went from that to not having anything for six months. Um, so that was, I mean, besides the, the, the whipsaw that we got from that, um, you know, we, what we see, we, we were very lucky that we managed to transfer a couple of shows to virtual shows. So we, we broadcast them. So we kind of, in a week we had to turn the thing that was designed for a live audience into something that was designed to be shot with zoom. And it was, it was that probably the one of the first, um, in this new era of, of zoom broadcast events. Um, and it was a show for Hyundai  uh, for a car reveal.  Um, since then, yeah, that’s gonna be the next few months is going to be film green-screen corporate shows. Um, you know, a lot of our vendors have built entire streaming studios in their, in their warehouses. There’s been a lot of sudden appreciation for a set of the technology that I think even us, we just didn’t have like bandwidth and how do we get all this stuff into a computer and, and how do people see it and then like who can see it properly? How does the audio work and stuff a week go through scale that, you know, where the money, you know, as much bigger than, than, and the pressure is much larger. Mmm. You know, we still, we, we get pinged a few times a week about doing virtual events and we try to navigate our clients through it. Um, you know, and, and a lot of it has, the sense of cooperation between parties has been huge because everybody’s suffering at the same time. This isn’t like the TV guys suddenly have no work and we’re doing great. Or in the recession back in 2008 where the touring market kind of kicked off a bit because people couldn’t travel there. People just didn’t have money there. So they couldn’t travel. So then we’ll go see shows or touring kind of became these mega shows that we have now incorporated disappeared cause nobody had money. Uh, now just nobody has anything. Nobody can leave their house, nobody can get together. Nobody has money. So it’s, it’s stuff but, but you know, industries have to continue working. Um, people still have to sell things and people still develop products and um. It’s the right thing to do. We’ll continue to do virtual events and we think that in the future we’re going to have some sort of hybrid thing where there’s going to be 10 people in a room with everyone brought guests and there’s going to be 50 people in a room and there’s going to be a hundred. And it will slowly tip her up to like, I don’t think it will be in, in a month. They’re going to go, ah, everybody in that stadium, let’s go. Like it’s just not going to happen.  

All right. I had to jump out here because Iggy mentioned something very interesting that I hadn’t really considered before this moment during the recession in 2008 I was coming off of my first tour with JT and I started working almost immediately for Cirque de Solei and some of you are going to hate me for saying this, but I’m saying this because it’s an interesting observation. I think it’s worth shining some light on, sorry, I can’t help myself. These puns. Anyways, I didn’t own a home at the time. I didn’t even have rent. I’d gotten rid of my apartment right before we started touring and then Cirque housed me in Montreal for a short period and then for another short stint in Vegas. And as a humble dancer and dance teacher, my humble bank account was more or less immune to the wiggles and wobbles of the needle in terms of America’s economy. That’s how it was at the time anyways. Okay. I’m totally speculating here and you could probably shoot a million holes in my theory and please bring it, but my guess is that tour’s did relatively well in 2008 because a people couldn’t afford to travel, so they were willing to save up and shell out for the big shows that traveled to them, especially the shows that scooped them up into another world, a world where they felt sexy and cool and rich and free from all of their worries and stuff. It’s not uncommon actually. I think people use entertainment, music, movies, concerts, comedy shows, other shows, wink, wink to buffer negative emotions. Yeah. That was me raising my hand. The office was my drug of choice several years ago. Man, those belly laughs and even tears really helped me ignore many of the negative emotions that I really should have been processing. So raise your hand if you’re spending more than average or more than a healthy amount of time buffering with Netflix these days. Yeah, entertainment, whatever the platform, whatever the mode of distribution will always survive. We’re like a cockroach. Okay, let’s file that under similes I will never use again. Okay. Back on track. Back to my theory. Part B of this is that I’ve noticed that most parents will make big, big sacrifices in order to preserve the quality of life for their children. So as a dance teacher whose bread and butter came from teaching kids between seven and 17 again, yes, I did see a bit of a change during 2008 but I was far from out of a job. People worked really, really hard to keep their kids in dance class to keep their kids around dance and art and entertainment because those are the things that bring us joy. Those are the things that enhance our quality of life. Our covid crisis circumstances are quite different in the sense that travel, AKA touring and training and entertainment industries like movies and amusement parks are among the hardest hit. But the silver lining and you know that I have a silver lining, is that entertainment is as good as immortal. As long as there are people, there will be stories to tell and as long as there are stories to tell, there will be dance and theater and jokes and film and so on and so on. Okay. So that is my theory. Like it or not. Let’s jump back in now and talk about the future of entertainment and stories, specifically books.  

What I’m experiencing in dance in my work as a choreographer and as a teacher is affected in several different ways right now obviously, no, I’m not going on a tour at the moment. Um, and I’m also not going to any auditions at the moment and there aren’t, I know of a few, but there aren’t as many commercial opportunities. Um, I have heard of a few really interesting commercial shoots where production is, is delivering equipment to the homes of the talent and then the talent will shoot it themselves on whatever the camera, probably an iPhone or something, um, that they were sent. And then somebody from production will pick it back up when they’re done, sanitize it and get the data off of it and make, make a thing. So  

Brilliant idea. Yeah, I’ve never heard of that.  

I think there will be a lot of creative ways and like you mentioned a lot of ways that we get to work together to try to solve this problem and it’s all of our first time we are leveled and humbled by this unprecedented thing. But, um, the other area that I wanted to take a look at is this teaching for, for me and training for most professionals and for aspiring professionals is getting a huge punch in the face right now because most dance classes are not one-on-one. Most dance classes happen in person and in huge groups. So what we’re seeing, especially I think zoom is probably right, the most utilized zoom and Instagram live, um, for training right now for dancers. But, uh, on both of those audio lag and video quality are huge issues. I have basically no way of knowing that they see the right time. And timing is, is, is a big part of what we do. I won’t say that it, I won’t say that it’s everything, but it’s a big deal. Um, have you seen or do you have a futures glance at solutions to those types of problems?  

No, it’s funny cause we, we talked about this and especially, you know, I still have a couple of dance classes was very obviously off sync I’m not obviously not a dancer. So if I can tell, you know, like it’s pretty obvious that it’s going to be pretty awkward for people to take that class if that happens. You know, we sync stuff constantly, uh, through video. Um, I think that this keeps growing. There will be a point and this may exist and I may just not be aware of it. Then maybe there must be a way that you can on the front side, sync up the sound. 

Even when you are live, like at a concert stadium, what your eyes see is definitely different than what your ears hear, especially if you’re in the nosebleeds. So in a way, this isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to zoom 

Sound sound guys have to take into consideration delay and fades or, yeah, constantly. I think that the problem where the internet comes in is that everybody has a different, it’s not a controlled environment as much as concerts. I’m not controlled, but everybody has different internet providers and speeds and qualities. Yeah. Well I’ve thought about it lately. I think that that’s going to become a thing. And again, it may exist. I may just not,  

Speaking of it may exist. My husband and I watched minority report last night, which came out in 2008 but it takes place. The story takes place in 2050, something like 20, 50 something. So the, the distant but not unimaginable future. Um, and my husband and I like to joke, it had been a while since we’d seen it. It was not our first time watching it, but it had been awhile. We now are calling it acrylic report because all of the tech in that movie is made from Plexiglas. Um, and like not even that great looking, just like everything is acrylic hysterical. But, but there were some things that I think they really got right. For example, there’s this, like your irises get scanned and people are tracking your location and using your eye scan to target advertisements to you in a way that’s already happening. Right? Like my phone knows where I am and they know what I’m looking at and that information is being used to sell me things. Um, but one of the things that happened in this movie that, that particularly caught my eye, and I’m wondering if it is happening already, probably is, is this idea of nightclubs with individual pods where humans go in and have a virtual experience, whether it’s acting out some fantasy, be it awful or pleasurable, um, or something like I just want to go into a room and feel flattered for a second. I want people to tell me nice things about myself or I want to be the pop star for a change or, right. Um, now it doesn’t seem like that is all too far off. Do you know of things like that already happening? 

Right. So speaking of the business, um, you mentioned that your firm Lightswitch is really committed to coming out of this. And by this I mean, um, Corona times, uh, coming out of it better than you went in. So you might not come out of it with more money, but you’ll come out of it with more skills. Um, how is your company and then how are you focused on that?  

Well, you know, we were, we were kind of in a bit of a transition. We have, uh, we’ve, we’ve all used the same lighting system for, for a while now, uh, in the company, the new system, the new console came out, uh, right before this happened. Um, so I, you know, I just, I spent the last couple of weeks, you know, getting trained on it because I, you know, unfortunately I don’t have one, but, but there’s an offline version of pages in the computer. So I’ve been learning how to use it. Um, and a lot of it has been just talking to one another and Hey, what are you doing and how are things, and I met these, not necessarily a skillset of something technical, but keeping everybody grounded and, and you know, connected. And so a lot of, you know, happy hours and emails and keeping people at bridge and help with people with, you know, a lot of our, a lot of our people have, um, small companies, um, and they’ve been trying to get the loans that we have from the giant chain amongst lighting designers of, of, of, you know, my bank did this and my bank did that. And how did we get this protection loan? Um, I’ve been reading, I mean, I used to read a lot as a kid and then I stopped when I discovered the internet ruined me, but I moved a boomer myself. I didn’t know that I could, I could stay up late and watch TV so they didn’t have a problem. Uh, but I mean, I’ve been reading for graciously since this started. Um, which is good. I have a ton of books that I’ve always like half read, so I’ve been finishing them off. Um, yeah. Yeah, I mean, it’s just a lot out. There’s, there’s only so much we can do training wise, you know, online without the gear. But, you know, we’ve, I’ve been talking to a lot of manufacturers about, you know, stuff that they’re doing, um, helping them with their marketing. And a lot of them I’ve trained, I’ve changed their marketing from just advertisements and selling to, to teaching up and coming designers how to do stuff. So we’ve, we’ve done a couple of those and we’re going to continue doing them. Um, yeah, I mean, maybe we just come out of better people. 

Um, I’m so glad that you brought up books. Uh, I was having a conversation with my husband before this interview and, um, he’s an engineer and an artist and many, many things. And, uh, one of his first projects, one of the things that made him, uh, famous is a book scanning machine. And this was years and years and years ago when, uh, digitization of books was really a hot topic for intellectual property reasons. And, um, he brought up a really great point, which was right now we’re digitizing our live product, which is my dancing, my classes and those things are becoming digital. So when people ask me, do you think this is going to kill classes? Do you think this is going to kill concerts? Like if people can have it in their living room at any time on demand, um, are they going to stop going to classes once classes are a thing again? Are they going to stop going to concerts once concerts are a thing again? And my answer to that, at least for now, yeah, is people still have books, right? People still touch books. People still read books. Yes, they became digital. Yes, that happened. But most of the people that I know and talk to still prefer the real thing. Um, they’re shareable. They are notated like you can write in numbers, there’s art to it and you can, and you can give them to one another. You can transfer them. You can like smell them.  

Don’t get me wrong. I do have a Kindle and I read them. I can though, which came out of touring because when I started we didn’t have Kindles and I would have a suitcase full of books and books are heavy. Yeah. So, so we do have Kindles. Yeah. Books are great. It’s good to have. I love that. Horrible chill. Yeah. I think it’s, I think it’s a helpful analogy to think of for, for those of us that are looking at this with a, this doom and gloom a thought that, that this means the end of a certain thing. It definitely, definitely means a change. Yeah. We’re adaptable. I mean, if anything, humans are incredibly adaptable. Right. Um, and we like connection. You know, we’re not, we’re never not going to go and try and share a concert of music and our favorite band and the mindset that comes with it. Um, which is not the same if you’re going to living them by yourself. I mean, it happened. It may have to happen. Um, there, there may be a good side to this and how we reach people, how to communicate with people, but I think people will always want to go to a concert or a show and, and talk to other people in the hog and, and express their uniqueness and how they dress and that kind of stuff.  

Yeah. Oh man, my dressing has gotten very unique for these last months. And by unique, I mean, Oh, I wear whatever in the heck I want and then I wear it for five days straight. Um, well thank you so much for sharing your insights, your expertise. I’m just, I’m floored and always very interested to talk to non dancers, but people that have had a similar experience, whether it’s on tour or in problem solving, which is what I believe this whole creative game is about. Very, very cool. Thank you very much, Iggy, for taking the time. Yeah, I’ll talk to you very soon, I hope. Bye.  

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, the Dana wilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move me member, so kick fall changeover to patrion.com/w T M M podcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody now I’m really, really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.