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The Brains Behind LEVITATION's Otherworldly Visual Realm, Bob Mustachio of Christian Bland and the Revelators

Austin's LEVITATION festival (formerly Austin Psych Fest) is preparing for it's 9th instalment April 29th-May 1st. The gathering has a reputation for not only providing some of the most surreal and mind-bending sounds to kick off your summer, but recreation in the form of mind-altering visuals as well. One noteworthy optic wizard, drummer Bob Mustachio of Christian Bland & The Revelators, will return this year to deliver an immersive light show that's bound to have you floating in the ether. 

The mastermind behind The Mustachio Light Show tours regularly with The Black Angels, and also provided hallucinatory graphics in the Revelators' video for "Daughters of the Son" off of The Unseen Green Obscene. By using a mix of classic 60's style liquid lights, digitally manipulated VHS tapes, and improvised digital imagery, it's an experience that mixes cutting edge and vintage sensory delights. We caught up with Bob to delve into the creative process behind the new hybrid art of multi-media video projections.

Above: Christian Bland at Liverpool Psych Fest

What initially sparked your interest in working with digital art/projections? Has this art always been directly meshed with your music background, or is it something that naturally evolved together?

I began playing drums at a very early age, and my immediate family were all musicians also. So, I become fluent in the language of music before English. Much later in life, I became interested in film and video production, specifically the technical aspects of post - production. This was at the dawn of digital non-linear editing, and computers were just starting to be integrated in the work flow of both audio and video production, and it was very exciting. It was not until fairly recently, around 2012, after moving to Austin that I started to work creatively with visuals for live bands.

Regarding the technical aspects of projections and digital creation, is there a balance of using new/old technology to achieve your desired results?

I try to mix as many different type of visual media together as a situation will allow. Some of it is old, and some of it is new technology. The key is combining things creatively, not using the default settings if your using a computer and making sure the creative level of your content is on par with the technical level of your installation, and vice versa.

Above: The Mustachio Light Show & Go!Zilla at SXSW, 2016

What is your creative head space like while projecting?

Not very different from when I'm playing drums, there is a bit of technical setup that must be done in advance to facilitate the creative process. I have a general idea and plan, but improvise along the way. It is important for me not to be hindered by technical issues because so much of what I do is generated on the fly.

What types of venues or spaces are your favorite to work in?

I love old theaters with nice balconies the best. Also, smaller gallery type spaces like K23 in San Antonio are awesome, lots of white walls everywhere. I am very lucky to get to work on the stage and video design for the Levitation Festival, so I love working there as well! All three of the stages have an element about them that makes them unique, especially for a festival setting.

Are there any particular shows or moments that stand out in your mind?

The Psych Fest of 2012 at Emo's East was a bit of a turning point for me. Up to then, I had only ever worked with The Black Angels as far as video projections go, an hour and a half maximum at a time. That weekend I spent 3 days doing visuals for about 75% of the bands that played, for hours and hours in a really forced me to rethink my fundamental approach to visuals in ways that changed the way I work to this day.

Are there any other past/present visual artists (of any medium) whose work you admire?

Way too many to count or list! So much great stuff out there, and I'm always finding more. I like to pick a year and study it in detail: the films, the music, news, technological advances, etc. The context of art or events is important to me and this helps me understand everything a little more. Cheers!

- Lindsay Krause

April 07, 2016 by Lindsay Crause