Strobe Lights and Blown Speakers: Radiohead’s Light Design

Andi Watson’s profession doesn’t come with a sexy title — he’s a lighting and stage director — so it’s probably best to think of his work this way: He’s the guy responsible for Radiohead’s mise-en-scène.

Since the mid-1990s, Watson has designed the visual component of Radiohead’s tours—outings that have become increasingly ambitious and atmospheric as the five-piece band’s sound has done roughly the same. Watson’s light creations share little in common with the neon hedonism of tours by the Rolling Stones or U2, save sometimes for the big-arena scale. Watson’s work can be ponderous and starkly minimalistic and sometimes Dadaesque — it’s stunning mood art meant to accompany and translate the music of the world’s biggest art band. Reached at his home in Brighton, England, Watson said: “My purpose is to create an environment for the band to perform in,” an additional synaptic link between Radiohead and its audience.

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