BENEATH THE WAVES: CHRISTOS “CHRIS” CONSTANTINOU
Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Tiny Waves’ first-ever intern, Chris joined the team just a few months ago and has already produced some incredible visual content to pair with this year’s Tiny Waves releases. Focusing on technological studies, Chris is working with Tiny Waves to both further his personal education and diversify the Tiny Waves production repertoire. Like any true professional, I decided it was time to ask the intern, so I sat down with him to discuss his internship experience and the evolving industry of audio-visual production.
To start, tell us a bit about who you are, where you’re from, and what you do on the daily.
My name is Christos, but you can call me Chris. I am originally from Cyprus but have been studying in the Netherlands since 2019. I had to do one year of compulsory military service in Cyprus and then chose to come to the Netherlands for my academics. Since I’m in my third year of studies, I was able to start an internship. That’s how I came to be a part of Tiny Waves. I’ve never worked with a music label before, but it seemed like a very unique and “behind the scenes” opportunity. I actually started producing music when I was sixteen and then transitioned into visual production, so getting to make animations for a music label was a perfect fit.
What initially got you interested in music? And what pushed that transition into visuals?
Around 2012 I started to hear more dubstep in the music scene. I hated it at first but grew to love it thanks to Zomboy and Skrillex. So I started just messing around with random software like FL Studio and would try to reproduce different songs that I liked. I would upload my mixes to Newgrounds under an old alias and did that for two to three years, but the platform isn’t exactly dubstep friendly. I wanted to put my music on my YouTube channel but really felt a need to have graphics and visuals to go along with it. I started trying out more software like Photoshop and the After Effects visualizer. I guess that’s where the transition happened. In making visuals for my musical experiments, I found a love for the audio-visual relationship.
Experimentation does often breed innovation, but what about inspiration? Where do you find inspiration for your projects?
When I was first learning more about audio-visual production, I was heavily inspired by rhythm games, in particular “The Impossible Game.” I was transfixed by the synchronization between the beat I was hearing and the images I was seeing on the screen. I wanted to be able to recreate that same reaction between sound and graphics. So, again, I started experimenting with different software and trying to recreate what I had seen in similar games. Honestly, the process itself is completely random. I’ll kind of steal bits and pieces from different projects that others have made. But in that process of trying to copy and reproduce what they’ve done, I end up creating something wholly new and original. It’s like recreating a memory – it will be different every time and never the same as the original experience, which isn’t a bad thing. Failure to replicate is simply the ability to create; from one original to another.
You’ve been creating some incredible content for Tiny Waves. How did you first find out about Tiny Waves, and how did that turn into an internship?
About three or four months ago, I was preparing to do an internship for my minor studies at university. I was sending applications out and contacting a ton of different companies. I just happened to see someone retweet a Tiny Waves open position, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to reach out and see if they would also be willing to bring on an intern. I had a meeting and interview with Ben Briggs and suggested the idea of creating animations to promote their music releases. He loved the idea, and we got started on organizing the internship. I was especially excited to work with Tiny Waves because they do a lot of video game music which is what pushed me to focus on audio-visual studies in the first place. So that combination of music and visuals and video games was key in me wanting to pursue an internship with Tiny Waves.
Well we’ve certainly been happy to have you! What were your first impressions while sitting in on your first Tiny Waves staff meeting?
It really felt like I was getting a behind the scenes look at how music labels operate which I had never experienced before. There is a big difference in perspective from creator to industry. I never realized how many different roles there were and just how important each person was to keep the label operating as a whole. I met with Steph, the social media manager, and learned so much about the importance of having an online presence. Bolide also taught me a lot about freelance work and how to sell yourself and your abilities. Everyone has to do their part and support one another. There are a lot of very talented people at Tiny Waves, and I feel like I’ve gotten to see the label grow and evolve in real time. It’s definitely been an eye-opening and rewarding opportunity.
Tell us about the different animation projects you have done with Tiny Waves.
My first project was an animation for “Let It Out” by Baircave. I was given some artwork and style references and pretty much had free reign to experiment. I had a starting idea and really just let the project take shape from there. My main goal was to make sure that the visuals fit the vibe of the music. I tried out some new things with color shifts and pixilation. The whole project took around a week or two to complete.
For the second project, I proposed making a rhythm game for “Beat ‘Em Up” by floopy and Cynax. When Ben and I were discussing the original terms of my internship, I was only supposed to do one-minute animated videos. But I had this idea for making a game and really got stuck on wanting to do it. After all, the internship should be educational, and I wanted to push myself to try something new and learn more. On top of that, I thought it would be a cool new way to promote the track. So I pitched the idea, got the go-ahead, and started working on it. There was a lot of playtesting involved that helped me learn more about improving playability and ensuring that the game didn’t just look nice but was also fun. Shout out to everyone in the Tiny Waves Discord server who helped with the quality assurance and feedback.
My final project will be creating a bunch of twenty-second animated videos for a handful of Tiny Waves releases from this year. People tend to have short attention spans, so I want to make content that grabs their attention and can help promote a variety of tracks. I want to mix it up with the styles of animation rather than sticking with pixilation. Maybe I’ll do something more 3D or even some retro inspired visuals.
Do you see this type of work as a developing sector? What would you like to see in the future of audio-visual production?
I have always been fascinated by audio-visual projects and experimentation, and I truly feel that there is so much to be learned and explored in that field. There is always an extra layer of satisfaction when you can add another dimension of experience to sound. Most people will only focus on audio or visual, but the combination of the two can really bring so much more to the human experience. If you look at things like music festivals and concerts, there is absolutely room to improve audio-visual production. I would love to see a full-blown live show that wholly balances both the audio and visuals. You can kind of see some artists like deadmau5 and Eric Prydz doing that, but there is definitely a big future ahead for audio-visual production as its own art.
How about your future? Any personal goals that are waiting for you after you leave Tiny Waves?
Long-term, I have no idea, haha. Short-term, I want to focus on my studies. I definitely want to focus in hard on audio-visual development and see where that takes me. I’ve been working on a digital orchestra, so I’ll probably work on that and then maybe pursue a Master’s degree or find a job or another internship. I have a lot of different paths to choose from, so I’m not sure where exactly I will end up.
Your internship with Tiny Waves will be ending in November. Any final words or thoughts?
Oh my god…I don’t know what to say, haha. There are so many things going through my mind right now. It feels like when you are at the grocery store, and you’re standing in front of the wall of chips and you don’t know what to choose. I guess Tiny Waves is like that wall of chips. So many great things that you don’t even know where to begin. There is really something for everyone: the classics, new flavors, something a little spicy, wildly creative stuff. No matter what you choose, it will be the right decision, and yet it’s so hard to go with just one thing. I think that really summarizes Tiny Waves, though. From top-sellers to niche selections, they really do offer so much in terms of the music they release and the events they host and the content they put out. You just gotta pick a starting point and enjoy from there!
Offering up a fresh perspective and some incredible talent, Chris has been an undeniable asset to the Tiny Waves team. From video animations to rhythm games and moral support, Chris has been a team player and key contributor from day one. He certainly has a bright future ahead, so be sure to support Chris on his social media and check out his work at his portfolio webpage and across the Tiny Waves social channels. And be sure to stay tuned for more of our “Beneath the Waves” staff interview series, artist profiles, live shows, and upcoming releases.
- Charming H. Thomas