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One big part of the EDM world, whether you realize it or not, are the visuals that go along with the music. Visual artist DATABYTE is quickly rising in the VJ world with his mind-bending visuals and his ability to completely suck a viewer in. Electric Hawk had the chance to sit down with him and talk about his life, creative work and more.

EH: Where are you from? What was life like growing up there?

DataByte: I was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, living in the home of a university music professor. So, I was exposed to the arts throughout my entire childhood. I grew up like most other kids but the Iraqi War changed a lot of our lives. We were forced out of our home and moved between different countries until eventually, my family settled in the US. 

What’s your current day job or life if you mind me asking?

I currently work part-time in retail selling credit cards with high APR to the American public. Other than that my time is fully consumed with creating content for fellow artists and networking/learning.

What are some things you’ve been learning this last year that you feel have been very helpful to your growth both as an artist and as a person?

I basically used all of 2019 researching and experimenting with all different types of software, methods, algorithms, and techniques to help me become a better artist and create real-life images/videos of the ideas developed in my brain. Adobe After Effects was my best friend all of 2019. I created so many things using this software and I recommend it to anyone who wants to get into video art.


At what point did you decide you wanted to start doing visuals? When did you say, “this is the shit I want to do”? Who inspired you? What pushed you to make those first steps?

I’ve always been super inspired by live music stage production. Visuals were the first thing that stuck out to me at my first few events I attended as a freshman in college. Shout out to that VJ for sparking the flame. But I always wondered how it was actually done, and for the longest assumed everything was pre-mapped to go with the music. Which is a real method that Excision and Bassnectar use – read more about it here.

Most of the time there is a human under a canopy somewhere controlling what you see on the screens in real-time. Bassnectar’s 360 event in 2017 is what really did it for me after I watched Android Jones do his thing on the 360 rig. I went home and started downloading royalty-free video clips from the interwebs and started editing them into the music that I liked.

For the first few months, it was just a personal thing for me and not to share – but then I made a small clip for fun for Dubusaca by Bassnectar, posted it on my Twitter titled something along the lines “this is what I do when I’m bored” and Bassnectar replied with “you don’t look bored at all :)” and from there I kinda just hit it by editing clips I like and posting them online for my friends to watch… I still love doing that, it’s one of my favorite things to share new videos with friends.


What are some of the biggest struggles you’ve had through all of this so far? What do you think is going to be your biggest one?

Honestly, I’d say the few struggles I’ve had with my career is the push to create which sometimes fades due anxiety and depression. Also, getting to play shows as a VJ is a very tricky business if you’re independent and want to play out of state shows. It won’t be very often but each one I’ve done has left me with memories I will cherish forever.

My current personal struggle is figuring out how to create realistic lighting in Cinema 4D XD.

What’s been your favorite moment so far in your still young career? What about a project you’ve enjoyed the most? Like working with Mize on Dive or having the opportunity to make visuals for Bassnectar’s event?

Honestly, my favorite thing about this project is wondering what or who my art might introduce or connect me with tomorrow. I love bringing new people into my life and making new experiences. The online interaction my art gets from people and their support is amazing and makes me very happy. I’d have to say my favorite show so far was the Louisville Pre Party. Mize and Wreckno had the crowd so live in ways I’ve never even seen before. It was great to put on a show for bassheads like the ones we used to attend as bassheads.


What was your first gig ever for a live show and what was it like for you?

My first ever live show was Yheti on Halloween in 2017. I performed that show with a Macbook and nothing else, not even a mouse. It was amazing and I got so many nice messages the next morning about how great the show looked!

How do you go about putting together your visuals or your day or your sessions for production to be at your highest work performance?

I tackle pretty much all my creative projects in a similar way to establish consistency in my work, along with a mango strawberry banana smoothie to keep me going! I try to finish my projects way ahead of time because I want to have enough free time to learn other software and methods.

What do you normally do to get a recharge of creativity?

Reading lots of nerdy lore and mythos, playing video games and drawing inspiration from artists I look up to are my main ways of getting my creative juices brewing.

What’s some advice you could give out currently to anyone trying to take a leap into what you do?

There is NO wrong way to create visuals, you do NOT need a specific software, machine or computer. I’ve made stuff on Macs, PCs, and smartphones. If it LOOKS good then it works. You can get started making cool artwork right now without having to follow a specific rules, which is why I love what I do. No one can tell me what to make or how to make it (unless they pay me). I make what I want and how I want it. You should always be having fun!

What are some of your dream collabs right now? As in just who in general do you want to make some magic with?

Jade Cicada and Supertask have been my addiction lately. They just make so much goodness and I would love to create a DIVE episode with them someday. Speaking of Dive…Expect something really dope soon in the next coming weeks regarding that 😎

What are you up to right now? What should we expect these next few months?

Expect a lot of content being made and a lot of milestones met. I’m using the first part of 2020 to REALLY perfect my live performance. So, when I do shows in the second part of 2020 you’ll notice the difference 🙂


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Dariel Leiva

Electric Hawk Founder. Chicago, IL