It began with an overhead projector and a spaghetti strainer
American Shadows perform at Yeti, with visuals by Molten Sun Projections
When Zach Schat was eight, he spent a lot of time with his hippie grandparents who came of age in the 1960s. From the comfort of their suburban living room, he watched performances of bands like Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Pink Floyd, and The Grateful Dead, but the music was only part of what amazed him—as the bands played, a kaleidoscopic array of images known as “liquid light” fell across the stage, covering it like some spasmodic geometric spotlight.
Schat’s little mind was blown.
Liquid light is relatively young visual art form. It was popularized by an artist named Joshua White (of the Joshua Light Show) who was the resident light artist at the renowned rock music venue Fillmore East on 2nd Street in Manhattan. White’s unique psychedelic light style was made famous by the classic ‘60s festivals Monterey Pop and Woodstock.
Schat’s grandparents brought an overhead projector and some casserole dishes into the living room for the young artist to play with, and the first notion of Molten Sun Projections was born. These days, Schat, Joshua Ricks, and Jonathon Arnold are the creators of the multimedia visual projection show of the same name.
“Everything Joshua White does is analog,” Ricks said. “He uses old overhead projectors, oils, physical objects like dials and clock faces to create all of his images. So at first that was all we used. This all started with an overhead projector and a spaghetti strainer in Jonathan’s apartment.”
Molten Sun Projections spent hours playing with their strange light lab during band practice in the beginning.
“The first Molten Sun performance was at a going away party at Chandler Park in 2015,” Arnold said. “After that we just kept growing and adding more equipment and learning new techniques anytime we got a chance to perform.”
Molten Sun Projections became the official light show of Easter Island music festival in 2016. Running their psychedelic rock projections for local bands as diverse as Green Corn Rebellion and Count Tutu and touring acts like Helen Kelter Skelter (Norman) and Holy Wave (Texas), Molten Sun’s psychedelic aesthetic now permeates the local festival scene widely.
“After getting the opportunity to run light for the Easter Island Clubhouse Stage in 2016 and 2017, we were hooked up with the Highberry Music Festival in Arkansas where we actually ran light for Paul Benjaman Band,” Schat said. “It was an amazing experience, and I feel like these festivals have kind been a boot camp for making us get better.”