Multi-talented artist Sandro Petrillo has been a fixture of the Bass Coast community for years. His DJ sets as Sergio SP are equal parts clinical and soulful and he has established himself as a key figure in Toronto's dance music underground. As a visual artist he has been involved in a number of projects, from designing Bass Coast's 10 Year Anniversary shirt, to designing light installations as a member of Artefact Creative. His most recent work, a permanent light installation at The Hifi Club in Calgary, was on display during a recent tour stop from The Librarian. Sandro was able to sit down and talk to us about some of his work.
You’re a man of many talents, where did your background in design begin? When did you start working with light?
I originally started working on design back in 2006 as I got my first introduction into dance music culture and the expression that is “DJing”. I initially designed and created a website titled ‘TheRinseOut’ that had the sole intention of hosting mixes and exposing some of my friends that were creating works in the realm of mixing audio. Shortly after, I started working on mix covers for some close friends with related event flyers for their performances. TRO slowly evolved and became an event series in itself, forming a crew that needed plenty of forms of design to share what we were doing. Designing for sound oriented events sort of snowballed and many more projects formed out of that scene. While hosting and curating multiple event series in Calgary I got deep into caring for spaces, whether it was through choices on lighting, engineering audio acoustics or creating marketing materials to get people into these spaces. Over the years I was granted many of these opportunities to hone in on a feeling, and now to this day something I work on quite heavily.
You recently put together a permanent lighting installation at the Hifi Club in Calgary. Can you tell me about the creative process when designing something that will live inside a club environment?
Yes! What a great time that was. Firstly, I must note that Calgary’s HIFI Club is like a second home to me, no matter where I am on this earth a huge part of my foundation will live in that space. When it comes to thinking of the details of space and lighting, I can whole heartedly say that I’ve learned enormously from working and hosting nights in that space. So with that being said, and understandably a space like that get’s a certain amount of bias attached to the vision when designing the installation. With or without bias all of these installations start as simple sketchup models, working from the ground up mapping out the space and placing fixtures around to sort of catch a feeling of what it could be like. This process generally turns into a melting pot of 10-15 ideas on arrangement and use of fixtures. Permanent installations lean towards the opportunity of being malleable to a degree, aiming for the installation to either morph, shift or grow as fitting for the space. I mostly install lighting installations that are up for a short period of time, they tend to be minimalistic forms with the ability to reduce the light to nearly complete darkness playing with the intensity and contrast of the space. These temporary pieces have a wide variety of design process’s attached. Sometimes I treat it the same and draw a bunch of versions before I get to the venue, and in other instances I’ll simply pack up lights, projectors, a bunch of fabric and rigging material and head to the venue and make the whole thing up.
You’re originally from Calgary, can you tell me a little bit about the electronic music culture there and how it has developed over the past few years?
Calgary’s great! Funny actually because now that I live outside of Calgary and mention my past in the electronic / dance music scene there, people are often surprised that “anything happened there in that realm”… I always chuckle because maybe from the outside looking in it doesn’t seem like much but while I was living there and a part of it, it very much was my life and my way of making a living. We were thriving in ‘electronic music’ in that city, hosting local events and international artists to packed out rooms with amazing sound systems and a healthy and open minded group of party-goers. Any city is bound to have it’s up’s and down’s but Calgary certainly has played it’s part in supporting electronic music in it’s city. We started throwing our weekly party Modern Math in October of 2009. It was a weekly Friday night party focusing on bass music and we were slammed for nearly a couple years, and at that time there were multiple events happening in the city, not only every weekend but every night of the weekend. Lot’s to choose from and a wide diversity of sounds to get into. As mentioned earlier, scene’s have their fair share of up’s and down’s so I’m sure you can understand that the natural ebb and flow of a creative culture has definitely impacted the city. That being said, I know for a fact that to this day things are evolving and growing, ideas are still being crafted and the community is getting stimulated with a great array of events, spaces and skilled artists. Alberta Electronic Music Conference and one of it’s main hosting space’s the National Music Centre have truly been a large factor in continuing to put Calgary on the map as a solid contributor in the electronic music scene.
What other projects are you working on as 2018 begins to come to a close?
I’m currently working on opening another space here in Toronto that will play host to workshops, talks, intimate community events and general idea sharing. It’s called Givenn Roomm and I’m really excited about it! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, a sort of ‘Record Store’ but without any records in it… Although Givenn as a space will have a very small retail portion, I don’t want it to be a majority focus of the project. That being said I find so much inspiration in what people are making physically, and I enjoy also making objects and goods so it’s a perfect opportunity to blend a few passions into one relatable form. Handling a couple of graphic design related projects combined with launching the new space will be enough to keep me relatively busy leading into the new year! Throw in a couple event installations and I’ll consider it a well balanced couple of months in my world ~
Listen back to Sandro's set at Bass Coast 2018 here: