Head in the Clouds Forever: assembling a main stage Coachella set

Production Designer, Ricardo Rojas reflects on the lighting, set, and special effects design of the first label-curated set ever to appear on Coachella’s main stage.

On 16 April 2022, 88rising descended on Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival‘s main stage with performances from NIKI, Rich Brian, Warren Hue, BIBI, Jackson Wang, MILLI, CL, 2NE1 and Hikaru Utada as part of the record label’s Head in the Clouds Forever set. Production Designer, Ricardo Rojas reflects on the lighting, set, and special effects design of this landmark set.

What is your history with Coachella?

“Coachella has played an important role in my journey as a designer. It was the first place where I really noticed and appreciated the art of lighting and production design. I used to attend as a fan, and dream of the day I could design something on the main stage. In many ways, it was a full circle moment in my career. I have worked with other bands at Coachella before, but this was the biggest project to date, and first of many on the main stage. This was my first time working with the 88rising crew, and it was very fun!”

Could you walk me through the technical elements of the show?

“The Coachella main stage is iconic and massive. It has a giant video element and a significant lighting rig in the air. We wanted to bring in a floor package that would make our set really stand out and feel special and different from the other artists. We combined the house rig with our own floor package to transform the stage for our set.”


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“Fuse Technical Group supplied a MA Lighting grandMA2 full size; 20 Elation Professional Monets; 42 Robe Spikies; eight foggers and eight hazers as well as four 10’ Tyler Truss GT. Pyrotecnico provided four Flames, Sparks and Mines each; six Master FX Atlas Foggers; eight Kvant Atoms Crowd Scanning Lasers and Lightline Burners Crowd Scanning Lasers each. All Access Staging US supplied curved stage ramps, while SGPS provided a hydraulic riser and automation system. All the vendors on our projects really came through and did an incredible job across the board. They provided everything we needed and sent some of their best crew.”

What challenges did you face with this project?

“Logistically, the biggest challenge was the number of artists that took part in our set. 88rising is a creative collective that includes many different artists. We had over 12 different artists perform their own sets over the span of two weekends. I knew I wanted to make every single artist feel like the headliner and to look different. Coachella is one of the biggest platforms in the music world; we wanted every artist to feel like we gave them the best show possible. 88rising has a massive international reach, we knew that we would be one of the most live streamed sets of the festival and we wanted every artist to have incredible production. We achieved this by really trying to highlight the diverse musical lineup. We showcased different elements of the production design to make every set feel different and visually unique even though we shared the production design across all the different artists. Lots of creative programming and long nights are what made this achievement possible!”

Please highlight some of the key looks and moments in the set?

“Some of the highlights were CL, a surprise 2NE1 reunion, Aespa and Jackson Wang! Our set took place as the sun was setting. Part of my production design was a package of crowd scanning lasers. We saved this element for after the sunset, which really surprised the crowd and got an amazing reaction from the live audience. The long nights spent with the lighting and laser programmers really paid off. I thought we hit every mark and the show looked visually stunning. My personal highlight was watching all the different teams, most of them working together for the first time, come together and pull off an incredible show on a pretty tight timeline. This meant everyone had to bring their A-game and execute at a high level. I was very lucky to get to know and create with so many talented people, from all over the world.


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How has the response been to the show from colleagues, fans and the band? 

Everyone was ecstatic! My favourite part of any project is when the show is presented to the live audience. Seeing all the details and little moments that we intentionally created get such a positive reaction from the fans is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience. This show was a huge undertaking with crew all over the world, it really felt like a team victory. All the hard work paid off.”

What’s next for you?

“I have some other design projects in the works, as well as building out my pre-visualisation studio. My design studio is always looking for new and exciting projects to collaborate with people on. We are based out of Los Angeles, and work worldwide.”