Feeling the Light

It’s taken 20 years, but Gary Bailie has light burnt into his soul.

With a background of lighting up thousands of different shows, Bailie has learned the survival skill of relying on his intuition and feeling.

In an electronic age, he infuses human touch into his world of colour.

Influenced by the very thing that made him, Bailie is passionate about his artistry. Taking his colour palette from what he sees around him, he strives for originality. “My inspiration is the Creator, He has one light which is the sun and He lights the world with it,” he says.

Bailie got his start in lighting by chance and, luckily for him, it came naturally. He was in Whitehorse, working in a local pub, playing DJ/doorman, and made friends with the California band, Cindy Warren.

One thing led to another and Bailie found himself on a plane; he was now on tour lighting up the band.

With desires to learn technique, he began his research. Searching out what wasn’t being done, he started perfecting his practice: “The work was pretty technical, I wanted to get good at it so I went to every concert/band I could see and just started doing it and developing my own style.

“I progressed, I started studying the structure of music, counting the beats and keeping time, which was really important. All music has a style to it,” he says. “I wanted to be original as I saw it as an art form, lighting was going to be my chosen medium,” he says.

With such a background in working with hundreds of bands from Nazareth to Randy Bachman to 54?40 to Tanya Tucker, Bailie is experienced with all ranges of music … every lighting show is just a bit different.

“Country is an easy going style. Rock ‘n’ roll is more punchy,” he says. “I look for originality in design and placement. I try to make my lighting rig look aesthetically pleasing. Then, you try to visually enhance the band,” he says.

“I want to create an environment for the artist where they can feel confident, look good and therefore have a good performance.”

Clearly times have changed since Bailie started working with lights. Living in an electronic world has removed the feeling that lighting once had.

“Technology is amazing, a powerful tool, but nothing comes close to the human touch.

“Computers are great but they don’t have the feel, the feel gives it that little bit extra,” says Bailie, mimicking sliding his faders up and down.

Doing his homework helps him deliver the best show, that and feeling the music: “I set up a light show that will look good for everyone. I will try to listen to the band’s disc to figure out how they arrange their song structure and dynamics. And then I just go for it,” he smiles.

“There’s lots of anticipation with lights and it’s really fulfilling when you get in the groove and everything is working.”

Bailie continuously provides lighting around the territory. You can see his work at music festivals such as Frostbite, Dawson City, Blue Feather (which he also produces) and Alsek and the Yukon Arts Centre.

“It’s burned into my soul, it just comes out so familiar. It opens me up to all kinds of improvisation, what a magic place to be, that creative zone,” he says.

You can contact Bailie or his production company, Moonshadow Productions, at [email protected]


In the last The Know column, the names of Jordy Walker and North by Northeast Music Festival were spelled incorrectly. We apologize for these errors.

PHOTO: RICK MASSIE [email protected]

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