It's no secret that dance and electronic music have been firmely partnered alongside visual arts and entertainment - from dubstep to hip hop and beyond. the art of VJ'ing and mixing music and video in tandem is no longer a yarn of the future - electronic music is not just about hearing the music, but rather something that you can watch too. Addictive TV (the partnership of Graham Daniels & mash-up guru Mark Vidler) was once described as an 'avalanche', creating multi-screen visual set-ups that act as a medium for their mixed-up palette of sounds. In the process they'e gained fans across the globe, and also premiered their latest set up at The Amsterdam Dance Event. Pulse investigated further ahead of their appearance tonight at Hexstatic's Holotronica 3D gig...
Please introduce yourselves and a brief idea on how you came up with the concept of Addictive TV? Grahame: Addictive TV’s really developed over the last decade in different stages as oppose to being created one sunny morning. Back in the day, I was producing television in the UK, like the ITV1 music series Mixmasters but was also VJing in clubland at the same time and performing AV shows in an earlier incarnation of Addictive TV when mine and Mark’s paths first crossed only back in 2005!
Mark: Yeah, I'd been mashing up and producing bootlegs for quite a few years at that point with my Go Home Productions project and EMI had gone to my management to see if I was interested in making a cleared album of mash-ups, which eventually ended up being my Mashed album in 2006, and EMI had asked Graham to direct the music video for the track 'Rapture Riders' mashing Blondie's 'Rapture' with 'Riders on the Storm' by the Doors and the rest, as they say, is history…!
Blending audio and visual is becoming more intuitive - what equipment do you use? Mark: Well for creating work in the studio, I’d love to say it’s highly secretive and experimental software but in reality it’s Sony’s AcidPro, Ableton Live, Adobe’s PremierPro and After Effects - nothing unusual or out of the ordinary.
Graham: And for our live work, this year we've begun using a new customised set-up, working with the software designers from Resolume in Holland and with Native Instruments in Germany using a special version of Resolume's Arena software in conjunction with Native Instruments' Traktor with two MacBookPros wired up together, which is working out great, we unveiled it recently at this year's Amsterdam Dance Event conference, where we did a show and also gave a talk with the guys from Resolume.
It must be a lot easier than when you first started? Did you use different equipment? Graham: Yes, absolutely. For many years we used the Pioneer DVJ-1000 DVD turntables which we actually helped with development of for Pioneer - in fact we were the very first people in Europe to be given the huge original DVJ-X1 prototype turntable back in 2003! They were revolutionary - and still are to a degree.
What sort of sound can you expect from an Addictive TV set? Mark: Loud beats and thrashing guitars - but all chopped up into tiny bits and re-assembled! Hard to categorise, but our work can be pretty intricate, using a lot of cut up and micro edits fusing everything from fidget to drum ‘n’ bass, and even rock, but all totally AV.
Graham: Yeah, and we've created a lot of new work in the last year or so, some of it will be the first time we've played it in London. Like a remix of Jack Black's band Tenacious D from their Pick of Destiny movie, and a drum 'n' bass remix we did of a well known Bollywood tune. In the summer we also finished a new mash-up of Daft Punk and Kraftwerk ('Robot Rock' and 'The Robots') with all the Transformers movies - so called it Daftwerk Transformation. Played it for the first time at a big festival in Switzerland and the crowd went mental!
Do you ever miss playing a simple DJ set? Mark: Nah, did enough of that in my mash-up days, and now see straight DJing as soooo 20th Century!
How do you feel about the way that music and image – particularly dance music – is becoming more synonymous with each other? Is there a need for entertainment in electronic music? Graham: We’ve always seen a merging of the two, it’s a logical progression and the easier sampling technology gets and more that screens continue to be everywhere, even in our pockets, the intertwining of the two is only going to increase. And yes, electronic music is entertainment itself and like any genre of music, it’ll develop and change over time. And we see what we’re doing as taking the audience somewhere electronic music can’t do on it’s own, a good example is our bootleg track “Supers” remixing superheroes all together - it’s music but you can also actually ‘watch the music’.
Do you think more DJs will try their hand at putting on AV (audiovisual) shows themselves? Or do you think there is still a place for a separate VJ and a separate set of skills? Graham: Yes and no. To perform really good AV takes a hell of a lot of work and effort, far more than most DJs would probably want to put in by themselves which is why there's not many acts doing what we do. And there's the answer to the second part of your question, yes they'll always be a place for a separate VJ or rather a visuals team. Just look at Amon Tobin's ISAM project - can you see anyone doing a whole show like that on their own?
Twice voted number one VJs in the world by DJ Mag, as well as hyped by the likes of XLR8R – that must have felt like quite an accomplishment? Graham: Well, any kind of recognition is a good thing. Shows someone’s taking notice of all our hard work!
Graham: Yeah, and the really pleasing thing about the DJ Mag poll was that the first year they ever did it, before opening up the voting up to the public, was that it was voted on by other AV artists and VJs all around the World, so it was great to be recognised by the scene and our own peers as it were. But I’ll always remember though that with XLR8R, they wrote some great stuff about us, saying something like we were light years beyond the amazing American video artist Bill Viola, so our management put that in our biography and then some brainless idiot sent us a torrent of abuse saying how could we ever compare ourselves to such a great artist, when obviously we didn’t - XLR8R did! Just shows how dumb some people can be!
You’re playing next at Hexstatic’s Holotronica show which is reportedly a 3D graphical event. What do you think about Stuart’s efforts to take VJing into 3D territory? Mark: I’ll be sure to wear my 3D specs!
Graham: Me too, be good to see his show, I haven't seen it yet - all credit to him!
Are we looking at a crazy, technological future for VJing and Audio/visual sets? Mark: No, if anything I think it’ll get simpler to perform AV sets. In fact we were recently asked about doing a demo for a new ipad app that simply allows you to DJ with music videos!
Finally, what’s next from Addictive TV? Have you got many projects in the pipeline? Graham: Well you always have to have plenty of projects on the go - as half of them never come off! But right now we're just finishing a remix of the classic 60's film Blow-up for the French-German TV channel Arte for a special anniversary edition of their cinema show which will be online in December. But the big thing keeping us busy for the next year or so is our next live project Orchestra of Samples, where we're collaborating with musicians around the world, filming recording sessions with them and then sampling those recordings to create new visual music. There’s a blog on our site, with all the recording sessions we’ve done so far - here’s the link… http://www.addictive.com/orchestra-of-samples
Mark: Yeah, we've been filming this on-and-off now for nearly 2 years in places like Sengal in West Africa, in Brazil, Mexico, Egypt and all over Europe - especially France where we’re working with a venue and recording studio in Paris who’re involved with the project. We'll carry on filming next year but at the same time creating the work. We've now produced a bunch of new tracks from this ever growing AV archive and the feed back we're getting is great, so can't wait to be locked back in the studio again to crack on!
Catch Addictive TV tonight as they open for Hexstatic's Holotronica 3D at Village Underground, London. Tickets can be found here.