Interview: Video Geeks


Video DJ mash up artists The Video Geeks will be taking the CHAUVET ARENA by storm at BPM 2013’s Video Party. Their smooth mixes of Dance, Electro, Dubstep, Drum ‘n Bass and Urban take on a whole new energy against a backdrop of re-engineered clips from TV, movies and YouTube. The BPM Team finds out more about the elusive Geeks ahead of their set…

How did you meet?

Kel: I was working at a nightclub as their resident video DJ back in 2008, and Ben was their lighting tech and warm up DJ. He started using video shortly after I started, and I liked his vibe and general attitude so we started to discuss ideas which led to us forming The Video Geeks.

Did you start as DJs or video DJs?

Kel: I started as a DJ back in 1992 and was starting to get a little tired of it all until Pioneer released the DVJ-X1 deck. I happened to be working at a club that had them installed, and I really loved the creativity it brought to the concept of DJing. To be able to mix and scratch video made me feel like an 18 year-old budding DJ again and it's been my preferred form of DJing ever since! The transition was really easy. I'd spent far too much time as a kid watching TV so I instantly thought of bits I could use for the shows.

Ben has been DJing for just over ten years, but he's been playing around with video since the days of VHS videos in the clubs! He used to sync light shows and songs to videos, so video DJing was a natural progression.

On your Facebook page you’re very clear that you are not DJs who play video, but video DJs. Interesting distinction. Does this mean you are equally passionate about both aspects? Or is audio secondary to visual for you?

Kel: I wrote an article on the differences between a DJ who plays videos and a video DJ so it came from there, really. I used to see lots of DJs who almost stopped their DJ sets to play two or three videos in a row without mixing them or editing, and then went back to their DJ set, or DJs who adopted video into their set by simply playing the music videos one after another.

Most music videos are very hard to play without some sort of editing done to make DJing possible. That's why I was asked to start producing intro edits for Promo Only UK/Europe. I take the actual music videos and edit an eight bar intro and outro into them to make video DJing much easier. I now produce between 20 and 30 edits of current dance floor hits and classic anthems a month for Promo Only, so it's really opened up a great catalogue to those who wish to start using video in their DJ sets.

We then take this a step further for the Video Geek sets by making the original music video look different or by using a different remix of the same tune or adding video effects. Sneaking film, TV and popular viral clips into the show completes the Video Geek approach to a video DJ set. We're very conscious of the fact that the show must look unique to our Geeky brand.

We're equally passionate about the music as much as the video, in fact, sometimes we have to omit tunes from the sets if we can't think of a video that goes well with the music. Sometimes I find some great visuals or clips, but it can be difficult finding audio that goes with it. It can be a bit frustrating sometimes!

If there were one piece of equipment you could take to a desert island, what would it be?

Kel: Ha! It would probably be a solar powered iPhone charger!

Ben: My MacBook Pro. It never leaves my side! As long as I have that (and a long extension lead to power it) I can happily edit, remix and perform.

Lots of events you’ve been at have required you to be on hand to answer questions about video DJing. What’s the weirdest question you can remember being asked?

Ben: Once I was asked if we could remix anything... After replying "pretty much" I ended up spending the following weekend remixing the guy's wedding video! I suppose it was one way to liven up the speeches!

Have you lost the ability to zone out while watching telly? Are you always on the lookout for potential clips?

Kel: The short answer to that is YES.

The long-term impact though is that friends and family now also watch out for clips for me. I'll often get a text or email saying something like, "when you get home, make sure you look at such and such program 11 minutes in when they talk about being a geek".

My job has ruined my film and TV watching forever!

You’ve supported some major live acts: Jason Derulo, Calvin Harris, Nero, Dizzee Rascal, Florence and the Machine, Pendulum, Tinie Tempah. Who was your favourite and why?

The Geeks: Supporting Florence and The Machine was great. Florence is great fun and was playing football with the crowd by kicking a huge beach ball and getting them to throw it back. She wanted to stay backstage after her set but her Dad wouldn't let her!

You’re in the middle of your MTV Hits Tour. What can you tell us about how the tour is going so far?

The Geeks: The first gig in Leeds was amazing; a capacity crowd that were really responsive and up for it. MTV had load of giveaways and we had some of our own so it was a sea of glow sticks, whistles and t-shirts in front of the stage. Brilliant atmosphere! We're looking forward to more dates.

You recently tweeted that you’re looking forward to playing the Main Arena @visitbpm this year along with fellow cake lover @beatamaxx. We’ve got to know. What’s your favourite kind of cake?

Kel: I'm the cake lover out of the two of us whereas Ben doesn't have such a sweet tooth. My ultimate favourite cake is the classic sponge with jam filling and icing on top - birthday cake being the prime example - but I'm also partial to a good muffin...

What does the future of video DJing look like?

Ben: We're already working on a technique involving multiple projectors that will bring a totally new look to the show. It's something that hasn't been done by any other video DJs yet, so it's all very groundbreaking stuff! With huge names like Fatboy Slim now adopting Video Serato, it's really helping to push the development of technology forward. LED screens are fast dropping in price, and projectors are now really affordable bringing the physical costs of video DJing well into the reach of anyone that wants to give it a go. I think the visual medium is such a powerful platform for entertainment and it is only going to grow, as the likes of Promo Only's Intro Edit range allows every DJ to give video a try.

Some of you promo pictures show the two of you in old school glasses, braces and button-ups, surrounded by equally dated equipment. We know these photos are a bit tongue in cheek as you clearly utilise the latest equipment, skill sets and technology. Are you vintage geeks as well? Do you have a thing for antiquated technology?

Kel: Yes, I have a habit for hoarding old technology, some of which I still use, like my old VHS Video Players. The pride of my collection is my fully working Atari 2600 Game System, and I suppose the Technics 1210 Turntables are almost antique these days, although they are still very much used.

Video DJ technology has advanced very fast in the last few years so I have a few bits of kit that are still great, but outdated. I also have a BBC Micro Computer and Acorn Electron, if anyone remembers those! Next on my list is one of those antique gramophone players with the funnel and wind up mechanism, like the HMV one.

At BPM 2013 you’ll be giving a talk on the Sunday on behalf of Promo Only UK/Europe and performing in the CHAUVET ARENA on Saturday. Which aspect of the event are you most looking forward to and why?

The Geeks: Both are different in what they will show, but the performance side of the Main Arena set will probably be our favourite. We started to put the set together almost six weeks before so we can create something that we'll enjoy, both audio wise and visual wise. It'll be a great showcase to an influential and critical audience, so it needs to be something that we're happy with.

The seminar on the Sunday will be fun too. We've been producing loads of Intro Edits for Promo Only adding to their massive existing in-house range as well as a Mash up Mix DVD that was released in May, so we were extremely excited when David Brown asked us to present a seminar at BPM around the subject of video DJing.

We plan to cover so much in such a short time, that we’ll probably generate a load more questions! Currently we're aiming to talk about the basics of what different types of video there are and how they can be put together with different software. We’re also hoping to cover some advanced use of MIDI, Syphon, other VJ apps and live cameras. It's a subject we're very passionate about, so we have to squeeze a lot into a small time slot! We'll also be on the Promo Only stand for the rest of the day to make sure we can answer more questions if need be!

What is the geekiest thing about you?

Kel: Having watched far too many films and TV series I often quote lines from films and shows. It comes in handy when we're looking for film clips for specialist shows as I can just reel off the film, the line and how far through the film it is in order to find it!

Ben: Apart from the fact I am a massive Red Dwarf fanatic, probably that I never read the instruction manuals when I get a new piece of kit or software... I prefer to lock myself away with it and learn through trial and error!


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