Unleashing the Storm: Knight transforms lightning into electrifying music with Tesla Coils in St. Francis

Posted at 1:52 PM, Feb 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-26 14:52:54-05

SAINT FRANCIS — I've seen a lot of things as a reporter. I've seen the happy, the sad, and everything in between. I've covered people pushing the boundaries of creativity to make new art. Something I've never seen is a man in a full suit of armor walking through lightning completely unharmed - until now.

“This is real lightning, hitting a real person, and they also look like a knight. I just thought the combination of it was really good," Jake Bissen said.

Bissen dresses as a Knight in shining armor, holds a sword, and points it at a Tesla Coil emitting artificial lightning without getting shocked (most of the time). A Tesla Coil is essentially a transformer that can produce various frequencies and voltages of electricity. It creates artificial lightning.

"Just the spectacle of it, I thought was the coolest thing," he said.

Tesla Coil
Sam Katania wears a chainmail suit as he reaches out to attract lightning from a Tesla Coil.

But it goes way beyond just a spectacle. This is for his company, Tesla Knight Productions in St. Francis. It's a music production company. The suit of armor is a cool visual display to show off what his company can do.

“So we’d really like to work with music artists. That’s the biggest thing because the coils are basically musical instruments, but they also have a really good visual aspect," Bissen said.

The coils make the lightning. And when music-making software is connected to the coil, you can turn notes into songs. Music best suited for this is EDM, heavy metal, or hard rock.

Together with his friend and business partner Sam Catania who owns MUSX, which does the engineering for Tesla Coils, they want to help artists make music, shoot music videos, and do live shows.

“I really wanted to push kind of where visual displays of science can go into the arts," Catania said.

Jake Bissen and Sam Katania
Jake Bissen (left) and Sam Katania (right) stand next to one of their Tesla Coils.

They’ve already worked with some artists like the Milwaukee band Immortal Girlfriend to shoot a music video and do a live show. Plus, they make cover songs using the Tesla Coils too. Together the duo wants to push the boundaries of music and science to create something new.

"So I think what we're really interested in doing is working with more artists and seeing what kind of sounds can come from them. I really want to know where these things break. Not literally but where can we find the limitations of these things," Catania said.

When I came to do the story, Catania decided to put on a chainmail suit and walk through lightning for the first time. I had to know, what did it feel like?

“You don't feel anything. I feel like from the affect you should feel something," he said.

It's shocking he didn't feel anything. Or actually, I guess not shocking, and that's a good thing for Catania.

Bissen echoes that statement. He rarely gets shocked. If he does, he described it as what he imagines being less than a taser.

The business is still in the infancy stages. The two are working on becoming more well-known to attract clients. Right now, Bissen said not a lot of people are searching for artificial lightning to include in their song or music videos.

"It's like it's that new and that niche that like I think most people will enjoy it, but just getting eyes on it to be like hey this thing exists, and we think it looks pretty cool, and we hope you do too," Bissen said.

To learn more or consult on what a production could look like, go to the Tesla Knight Production website.