Julio Himede, stage designer for the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, has opened up exclusively about his huge plans for Liverpool.
The Australian-born New Yorker and his creative team have been working on the set since last autumn, which will pay host to 37 performers over the course of three shows in May.
Speaking in RETROPOP’s May 2023 issue, he offered an insight into the creative process behind a production that’s “more unique than any other show that I can think of around the world”.
“We very carefully spent a lot of time looking at camera angles and floor plans to make everything feel united,” he says of the show, which has the slogan ‘United By Music’. “The arena’s quite big, so how do we make it feel like it’s all part of this ‘hug’, this welcoming message that we want to portray. So there’s a lot of production values that we bring into it.”
Referring to the set as “an immersive environment and a landscape that includes the audience and the artists performing on stage as one,” there are more than 450 square metres of staging, bringing together another 220 square metres of independently moving and turning video screens, as well as over 700 video tiles integrated into the floor and more than 1500 metres of LED lights.
“Lighting plays a major factor in how the viewers at home experience the set design, as well as other effects like pyro, smoke,” he adds, revealing there are elements of automation and lighting in this year’s show that have never been seen at Eurovision before. “There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors that we bring to make it feel immersive.”
A big part of that, he reveals, are expansive video screens. “Eighty per cent of the architecture of the set is made out of video panels and video surfaces – not only on the back walls, but also on the floor, the ceiling, and the side sections – so that allows us to transform the stage design in a matter of seconds, whoever is performing,” Julio shares.
“We are having conversations with each country, showing them this design, what it has to offer, and the different areas within the stage. We’ll show them some of the tricks that the stage can do, because there are a few areas that automate and we want to give them access to that element.”
He adds: “Then they bring their own creative which we help them elevate, so it’s a back and forth and we’re in the middle of that right now. What you have seen in some of the performances from the countries so far, some of them are sticking to what they have and some of them are bringing in other elements that extend the creative even further.”
When it comes to his favourites, however, Julio his tight-lipped. “There are so many wonderful, catchy songs in this year’s entries; some are more dramatic than others, but it’s often the ones that are a little bit more quiet that give us a big surprise at the end,” he teases.
“I have 10 or 15 that are my favourite ones right now. But I’m not saying which ones!”
Read the full interview in the May 2023 edition of RETROPOP, out now. Order yours or subscribe via our Online Store, use our Store Finder to locate your nearest stockist, or get Digital Copies delivered direct to your devices.