For modern day music artists, one aspect reigns supreme. While talent and style are certainly requirements, being memorable is essential; this is as true for their visual identity as their sonic one. LA based Strangeloop-Studios (SLS) has aided many of the most renowned music artists of the day in achieving this goal and Andre Zakhya has been an essential part of it. As an animator with SLS, Andre has helped to create works for Nicki Minaj, Lil Nas X, and others that manifest unforgettable moments on iconic awards productions including the Grammys and VMAs. Ms. Minaj and Lil Nas X are recipients of the industry’s biggest accolades including American Music Awards, BET Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Billboard Music Awards, MTV Awards, YouTube Awards, Grammys, and others. As such, they and their teams perceive the importance of accentuating the spectacle of a grand moment on the industry’s biggest night. Mr. Zakhya notes, “At SLS, we believe that using world-building we can establish a unique visual identity for the music artist. It involves creating a distinct aesthetic style, color palette, and design elements that are consistent throughout the concert visuals. This cohesive visual identity reinforces the artist’s brand and creates a recognizable and memorable experience for the audience. Concert visuals have the power to evoke emotions and set the mood for the music performance.”

The Video Vanguard Award is the highest honor one can receive at the VMAs. To accompany Nicki Minaj’s acceptance of this award, she wanted to present a truly extraordinary performance that night. Visually, the goal was to maintain the identity she had established as a music and video artist while pushing further than ever before. This truly unforgettable performance can best be described as a living organism with the performers, music, and visuals moving in perfect unison. Andre’s work was integral to the approach as he describes, “In this project, I was responsible for making audio reactive visuals that would respond and synchronize to the audio, creating a dynamic and immersive experience. For ‘Beez in the Trap’, I created a city environment resembling one you might see in New York City that had elements like windows, billboards, and signs synchronized to the beats, rhythm, melody, or other elements of the music. Audio Reactive visuals add an extra layer of excitement and synchronization, heightening the overall impact of the performance.” Nicki Minaj further cemented herself into VMA history with this performance and its stellar production value.

The project Andre worked on (also as a member of SLS) for the Grammy performance of Lil Nas X for “Industry Baby” featuring Jack Harlow was another example of a stunning integration of music and visuals that propels an artist to a trending and unforgettable moment. Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow performed on a stage designed as an alien landscape with crystal formations that lit up to the beat of the song. These crystals glistened under the vibrant lighting, creating a sense of enchantment and wonder and evolving throughout the song from shades of pink to purple to dark blue. The end result was a magical world with Lil Nas in the center of it.

Though he never planned on working with major music stars and has never had any formal music training, Andre Zakhya admits that his work has allowed him the creative outlet to which he always aspired as an animator and has placed him among the world’s music elite. He remarks, “I’ve had the chance to experiment with various animation styles, visual effects, and lighting approaches to create captivating visuals that excite the audience. The freedom to push creative limits and create unique visual experiences contributes to a sense of artistic fulfillment and accomplishment. I feel joy in translating music into visuals. I’ve had the unique opportunity to translate the emotions, energy, and rhythm of the music into visual form. By analyzing the music and understanding its structure, I can create visuals that synchronize with the beats, tempo, and mood of the music. Bringing the music to life visually and creating a seamless fusion between the auditory and visual aspects is an incredibly fulfilling experience.”

Writer: Mike Winston

By Punit