Tonight we are excited to have the multi-talented Suren Unka working on the lighting at THE BOOG. Suren has been hot on the New Zealand music scene for years. As well as creating music under his own name, Suren also plays drums for Beach Pigs, produces tracks for a select number of local musicians, works as a sound technician and creates lighting for local gigs and music events. Lighting isn’t something many musicians or sound techs pick up, so we caught up with him to ask about his move into lighting, his involvement in the local music scene and finding inspiration at Hong Kong Disney Land.
You have been as massive part of the Auckland music scene for years now; both as an electronic musician, producer, drummer and sound tech. Now you are the man behind the lights as well. When did you start working on lighting? Was it just in natural progression from being sound tech?
My whole life I’ve been fascinated by lighting and music. One of my first memories is putting coloured cellophane around my parents lamps and then using their rubbish bin as a drum to create my own mini stage show.
I think what really triggered me to want to get into it properly though, was a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland about four years ago. One of the rides had this hologram lazer set up and it kind of blew my mind. It was like nothing I had ever seen in New Zealand before. When I got back to New Zealand I ordered components online and started making my own lights from scratch, and it’s grown from there.
Mixing music and lighting was something that evolved naturally. Because I’m so involved in the Auckland music scene I wanted to bring the excitement of lighting to gigs. I think lighting alters an energy in a way that nothing else can.
Do you remember a point when you realised you wanted to offer lighting as well as sound?
If you’re a soundy, a lot of the time you get roped into doing light as well. But it’s always standard ‘rock lighting’ which I find pretty boring - so I wanted to try do it better. Also, when I was younger I was a gig photographer. Lighting is a big part of photography so it was something I naturally observed closely when taking photos at concerts and was always thinking about how it could be done better.
What lighting projects have you been working on lately? Does your lighting work extend beyond music related events?
This Friday I’m doing two set ups. One is at Neck of the Woods and the other installation is for The Beths at Galatos. I’m trying something new mixing light with helium globes. I would like my lighting to go beyond music events in the future, but at this point it hasn’t.
What do you think are the essentials elements to throwing a successful gig in 2017?
A great line-up of artists is number one, but also booking the right artists for the right time of the night. I find that’s something a lot of people don’t think about enough. You need to build up your nights so people don’t peak too soon.
Once you’ve sussed that, picking the right venue for the genre of music is important. Once you’ve done that, get a good illustrator to design you an interesting poster. Then last, but definitely not least, make sure you’ve got a good sound system /sound person (don’t try skimp on price for the sound system get a good one) - and of course, good lighting!
Who locally and internationally do admire for their curation, production and excictuion of music events?
Lady Laser Light from Wellington is someone I really admire. She did an insane job at the last A Low Hum event. It was some of the best production I have ever seen.
As a musician, what are you working on the moment?
At the moment I’m just finishing off the Beach Pigs album (I’m the drummer), working on a collaboration single with Levi Patel and also producing Dahnu Graham’s solo project. In between that I’m also working on my own solo stuff which is also a slow and steady race.
Come along to THE BOOG tonight and see Suren's lighting in real life!
This month featuring the boogie selections of Manuel Bundy (The Turnaround, see also : The Godfather) Frank Booker, Lucky Lance (Team Dynamite), Hudge (The Uptown Boogie) and Samuel Harmony (Friendly Potential) !