Tobias G. Rylander, Lighting Designer and Director

Home base: Stockholm, Sweden, and New York, NY

Current project(s): I am currently on a year-long tour around the world with Swedish singer Lykke Li. I am also in the process of new designs for two bands, Miike Snow and Portugal The Man. I have been working with Miike Snow for the last year, and I’m really excited about this new project.

Most notable achievements: I was operator and co-designer with Andreas Nillson on the Fever Ray project with Karin Dreijer Andersson. That experience opened my eyes and made me braver in my expression. Other than that, I am proudest of the current Lykke Li design. It’s very dark and dramatic. I think it really illustrates how I visualize music, and it also gives a good hint about how my interpretation enriches the music with new dimensions.

How I got into this industry: What first opened my eyes to lighting and live shows was seeing KISS when I was 13 years old. It blew my mind! But as most kids that age, I wanted to be on stage, playing the guitar like Ace Frehley. That made me spend a lot of my free time at local rock clubs, and I ended up “pushing buttons” doing lights with 12 PAR cans. I wanted to learn more and took a job in the warehouse at a local lighting and production company in Stockholm. That led me to being a lampie on bigger gigs and productions like Eurovision Song Contest, etc. After that, I started freelancing with touring bands.

Influences: Hard to say, but I look as much into art and theatre as music to get inspiration.

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: “You might have to realize that you can’t always do and work with what you want,” said by my high school guidance officer.

Best advice I’ve ever heard: “You might have to realize that you can’t always do and work with what you want.” That trigged me to show them they were wrong!

Favorite thing about the industry: Anything is possible!

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: I like using physical set design elements, even if it is a small production. I like to work with more dimensions on stage than a conventional back drop. And I always draw my design manually.

Plans for the future: I love to grow as my productions grow. The job takes me all around the world, which means meeting a lot of interesting people. Maybe tour less—last year, I spent 220 days away from home—and focus on design more.

Other interests/side gigs: Music and live shows have always been my big interests.

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