Category Archives: 4Talent

Tunnel Vision

The full feature on Luke Jerram is now published on 4Talent. There’s so many interesting things he mentioned that I couldn’t include so here’s the original transcript.

So if you could start by giving me a bit of your history?

I was going to be an engineer I did maths and physics a level – and art. I had a look around engineering universities. I had a place at Brunel Uni and it was all full of blokes and about 3 women on the course and then I had a look around the art college and I think the statistics were about the opposite! It seemed to be a much more lively an interesting place and so I decided to do an art degree instead. I graduated in 1997 and now the artwork I do involves engineering and science anyway. But it took about 5 years after art college to make a proper living out of it.

Do you do quote a lot of stuff with the Arnolfini?

I do a bit of work with the Arnolfini but to be honest most of my work is abroad. I find that if I do something in Bristol, it’s ‘good old local lad making good in Bristol’ whereas in Croatia or America or something, I’m suddenly this exciting international artist. You sometimes get some Russian artists for example at the Arnolfini and they’re treated like royalty here and then you get to do it in Russia.

A sort of cultural exchange programme?

Yeah! (laughter)

Do you find it’s important to keep your interests and specialisms broad?

Absolutely I read a lot, I like invention and I’m big fan of technology. I don’t read a huge amount about art to be honest. Society tends to have science at it’s centre, you make art about all types of things. I’m in a situation where I can apply my art and invention to anything, like I designed my girlfriends wedding ring. The ring has my voice etched onto the outside of it sonar vibrations, so you can play it on a miniature record player and it plays back the proposal. Like a talking ring. Now I’m designing the lighting for a Town Hall so you use your creativity anyway you like. There’s a lot of fun to be had.

Do you think there’s a theme that goes through whole the body of work, is there one place where it comes from?

There’s loads of places. I’ve got an actual interest in perception because I’m colour blind, so I like to think about how our eyes work and how we see the world. I’ve worked with retinal artwork before where you create an image with a flashing light.

I’ve created a piece of artwork that works with arc inducing (?) you create something that’s not there. The artwork I made beforehand was called (?) and it used a flashing light to create the image of a chair floating on your retina and if you blink you actually reinforce it. The strobe light is a blinking machine… It’s been moving around since 1998 (?) and it’s just being going from festival to festival. These is one of the things that has been keeping me stable since I graduated.

I just like playing around with perception. With the sound I work with Dan Jones and we play very loud or very base frequencies, we’re exploring those boundaries.

The tunnel

I was interested of the history of the space, all the things that had passed through there over time, all that paper, all the letters. The tunnel is a conduit for connecting people across the world. Then I got thinking about what would happen if letters wouldn’t get through. So I looked into the postal office and I found that there’s a lot of stolen post and I had the experience of my identity being stolen and that was when someone opened my post and took my bank details. Then I found that if the packages don’t get delivered, they open them after a certain amount of time then flog them on eBay. There was this report of someone who saw his bagpipes for sale and had to rebuy them as he’d sold them to someone in Denmark for a thousand but he had to pay £30 to get them back. But what happens with letters when they get lost is they’re sorted by hand. One letter had a big smile and some teeth as the address and that letter got sent to Esther Rantzen in the end and it was correctly addressed. There was another that got sent through to Salador Dali and all that had on it was a moustache. It’s that hand sorting process.

I thought it was an Angel hanging over the letters?

That was Angel Gabriel who is the patron saint of postage that’s copied from an El Greco renaissance painting and I was thinking, what would the patron saint of postmen think about all this post being stolen objects or being flogged by royal mail? Letters that don’t arrive go to Belfast, eventually they get put in a big incinerator, so the big light at the end of the tunnel is the idea of creating a furnace where you’re burning all that information. If you read it in a different way then that’s ok.

With typewriters, it felt it was of a particular era I wondered whether it had a theme of the second world war?

There’s also references. I wanted that sense of abandonment it looked like something out of a war film.

I always think of tunnels as birth and death as well. When you reached the end of the tunnel and find it’s a sheet you feel like you’ve been kept from something as well?

Well where that screen is, you’re about 10 feet away from platform 11 of New Street station.

How were you approached by the people of Fierce?

It’s taken about 2 years to get here actually, I’d done a tunnel in Bristol and Mark Ball told me he had some tunnels here you should have a look at. And the one we looked at last year didn’t seem very exciting and they told me there was another one but they couldn’t find the key. The other was much much smaller. Then about 3 weeks before we were about to launch they found the key and we got permission to go down there and it turned out to be about 3 times bigger than the other tunnel it was a much more exciting opportunity. We had one week to think of the idea, get planning permission and get the electrics sorted then I had one week to make an artwork, then about 4 days to install it. The whole thing was done in a rush, but I think we’re all happy about how it turned out.

It’s funny you should say that but I suppose because you’ve got that feeling of history that the exhibition feels like it’s amassed over time…

I suppose it has been, there’s loads of references to other artists too people like Lola Harpoon (?) and Cornelia Parker, Rachael Whiteread I’m paying homage to those people. It’s very easy to be inspired by the live opportunity as well.

It’s changed now, there’s no longer that romance, they’re loaded up on vans and shipped out to Aston, do you think there’s a loss there?

I think there is, those images of that I projected are about that of empty Victorian train carriages they were really beautiful and they’re projected on concrete and there’s a real sense of loss about them, they’re empty as well. You compare that with wooden panelling leather carriages with all the cut glass and you compare them to now which is dirty and rubbish. From whisteful steam trains to dirty diesel. Maybe we’ll pass that and Europe will come out the other side with quieter and cleaner.

It’ll probably have big logo on the side though…

Exactly!

How does it sit with the mail box being turned into a shopping centre?

Well it’s the nature of what we’ve become. Every day I was going down the tunnel and going past the shops. They were all open but empty, they were just this lonely, cashiers in there waiting for a customer. So we’ve gone from an industry of making and selling things to a service providing industry and everyone is just waiting for customers and the customers are in the service industry as well, so nothing happens. Everyone is waiting for everyone else. You know that cage I put down there with a light? that was a reference to couple of things I was thinking of the people upstairs trapped.

You mention Rachael Whiteread as an influence. Was the concrete chair and office to do with bureaucratic slowness?

I suppose you can read it that way it was more to do with abandonment, the furniture has almost been consumed by the concrete around it.

Next project?

I’ve made 20 sleep pods that people sleep in and you wear these masks and you can tell when people are dreaming, it measures people’s rapid eye movement. It will then play you a surround sound landscape, while you’re dreaming, and then hopefully it will be incorporated into your dream. The content of these dreams will be the artwork.
A piece I finished recently was an artwork of Sir Henry Welcome, for the Welcome Trust. And they wanted a thousand portraits for the delegates at the launch. And Sir Henry Welcome was a Victorian entrepreneur with a big handlebar moustache that made his money when he was 16 selling invisible ink, and all it was lemon juice he was flogging through the newspaper at extortionate prices. So I found a way to screen print with Lemon juice so each delegate had an invisible portrait of Sir Henry Welcome that they’d stick under the grill for 2 minutes and this portrait would appear. The only problem with it was that the trust was so panicky about health and safety that we had to grill them all in the end. The nature of how we’re living we can’t trust someone to grill something for 2 minutes.

Did you have a problem passing health and safety to get down the tunnel?

The mailbox were very easy going. When I did it in Bristol with tunnels owned by the council that was an absolute nightmare with the layers of bureaucracy.


Complete Design Inspirations Transcript

Shane is founder of onedotzero a visual digital showcase. Eboy are graphic designers with their own unique style. Sanderson Bob is a lone graphic designer who worked for a big graphic design company before going his own way

Shane
I basically run two companies onedotzero which has been going for 10 years, 3 years ago I started onedotzeroindustries which deals with the commercial areas, such as music video and short production and an artists agency. “Adventures in moving image” is our strap line, and both these companies encompass the many directions as you can take, and that’s the adventure – you have lots of choices and options. It’s quite difficult to describe because we are a hybrid.

When we started we encourage graphic designers and non traditional film makers to contribute. Onedotzero was the first event of its kind to look at particular new designers, at the time we said it was the “end of celluloid” which was outrageous back then but look around now and it’s happened – every film has been touched digitally. We have difficulty deciding what is mainstream and underground, those tags now are getting redundant. [10 years on the] festival is [still] at the heart of our activities. Education is something we have also done through the medium of journalists but also talks in colleges – it’s an evolving area. I see myself as a producer rather than just be a consumer, production has always been an important part of onedotzero but when we started a lot of the stuff that we wanted to see there wasn’t out there. People like tomato, Andy Martin put out there first video at the festival, Chris Cunningham even – these people were known in other areas. We’ve commissioned short films, animations recently we’ve been involved in installations. We took over Friday Late at the V&A.

We were one of the first festivals to look at VJing. We like to think it’s live performance, Vjing to me is like visual wallpaper, we’ve taken it a step further.

We had visual idents which fed into all the publicity so we looked at it as an overall brand, it’s that point: that conversion. I’m into converging ideas for creativity and we put together people who wouldn’t get together.

Over these 10 years we’ve charted the development of that medium, we’ve picked out some key developments and key talents. We have a national and international remit, we’ve been to 65 cities around the world. There’s a huge audience for this, I like the fact we haven’t always gone to the obvious places.

Onedotzeroindustries came from the knowledge we had in this area, people started asking for information and phone numbers. We were getting unhappy about how they were treated so we represented some of them. People started asking us for pitches, Sony approached us, we wrote the brief, then pitched it and then ended up producing it. With the tour stuff, it’s still about pushing boundaries, doing something different. For U2 we did the back ground visuals but also the text and editing – we used cutting edge kit like this pixel loaded curtain. We also used known and unknown people, Julian Opie who’s obviously well known but also students work as well. George Michael any fans? The screen was a huge l.e.d. screen, that formed part of this ramped stage, also things triggered by his voice, when you watch it without it’s a completely different experience.

People will want to know my background, here you go. I never went to college unfortunately, because I didn’t want to go where the people at school we going. And also I didn’t know what I wanted to do – but I knew what I didn’t want to do and I made sure I didn’t do that; that distinction was important. So the first thing I did was make sure I knew about desktop publishing, the first proper job I had was in magazines, I was taught how to use a mac. I did that for about a week – it was a newsletter about computers and the director left and they said if I did her job I could actually earn some money. I did her job and took the newsletter to magazine status, I was involved with magazine on sales and marketing side as well. It was great money as computers were taking off and people were chucking money at it. But I was 20 and I felt like I was 45, so I stopped it. I basically didn’t have a job to go to, I was interested in film but couldn’t afford a camera, they wouldn’t let me on the access course, so I became a stills photographer and started to do any kind of work I could with that. The girl I was living with had a small company and I helped out back stage, and did some stills photography there. Then I was doing all the publicity, I ended taking lots of actors photography for the Spotlight book, I then started my own theatre company which spawned the League Of Gentlemen. We were quite progressive we used music and video, we worked with operas, we worked with Scanner in 1993, we learnt about lighting and actors. It didn’t take me into film but learnt about marketing and PR. All these things were great but didn’t make any money. I got into multimedia, selling software then the guy who set that up sold that company and started a new one and he asked me to start an online magazine. So I became a multimedia producer – worked a lot with technology companies, a lot of our clients were the game industry. All of that informed onedotzero. Actually, at one time I was media producer, had a theatre company and started onedotzero

I thought what were my inspirations are for this talk and they’re still the same – they relate to everything I do today. If you’re passionate about things then it’s the best thing for it – you’ve got to take chances and opportunities when you get them. I’ve had to take different directions, I’ve done other jobs, but kept focus.

I think collaboration is the key to web 2.0 I think your value now is in how you share your ideas. If you are good at having ideas you should have another one. Be excited about what you want to do, I know people don’t always have the option of choosing, but you’ve got do at lease some of what you love.

Eboy
We are the eboys we are two of them. We work in different places. We ichat every day. We meet once a month in real life. We are very much a virtual office. These are post cards we always collect, it’s how we first started to exchange ideas, then became the fax machine, we worked on computers as well and printed it out and faxed it. We’ve known each other since we were 18, we studied together I know Kye (?) through Meter (?) We both used to design for a big design company – that was the time of the fax machines. Then we started doing stuff only for the screen, we worked with photoshop. We put it on a diskette, and gave it to our friends and hoped they’d copy it. It was like a magazine, you could click through pages, so it was an easy way to publish – no costs. Then we started to do stuff together.

We did stuff for small companies doing posters and letter heads but we decided not to show that on the internet we decided it would stand on it’s own. So we stuck to doing guns and girls and things we liked, for ourselves, we displayed on the website. We only showed what we really liked, so clients would only ask for that. One of our first projects was in Pico the idea was to make pictures that could fit easily on the site. We do pictures like you do Lego, or something. The most fun was not doing the pictures but the characters. The city is one of our most important pieces. When we started doing it art together, it was just natural to fit it in a city. We all work at fit things into the city so in the end it’s an eboy product not just one of us.

The good thing is because we use the same perspective [in the layout] we can use the same parts. So we started an archive – it’s like building your own toy shelf. When we finish a product we put them in different collections, flags, signs, etc.

Eresearch is one of the most important things, super markets are a great place to find things when we travel the first place we go to is the supermarket.

Our main jobs are work for magazines. Last year we did an illustration on web 2.0 for Fortune magazine, we had a lot of interest when we posted it on our site. We are also looking to make real figures, with kid robot.

Bob Sanderson

The easiest way to start is by what inspires me, I’m massively inspired by shapes. Any project I get, that’s what I start from. My brief history is I was a student at St Martins, went to Amsterdam and got a job at a music magazine. There was a brief spell there before I was offered a job with Designers Republic. (DATE?)I was quite wary when I started the job as and my work was nothing like DR. When I was offered the job I think they were looking to change the face slightly of what they were doing. From that I moved to London and worked with Big Active and Weinen Kennedy then set up Sanderson Bob shortly after. Got some studio space with some friends.

The only gauge to what I do is, we do a lot of work in the studio which is important. A great thing about who I work with is the massive optimism. When you’re doing a brief it’s exciting thinking about all these thousands of different people you can call – that’s why the job’s so interesting. It’s important to craft your own way of thinking and working, it has to point in the same direction as everyone else. It still has a general feel and understanding of what you’re working with. You need to bring people in all the time to freshen it up – give everything away. If we present projects we put loads of thinking into it. That’s what the training at St Martins was good for you just start talking, whether it’s a designer or artist you haven’t heard of or someone’s mates a photographer… it’s about learning.

I just need a new side project each time, so you’re getting different peoples’ work all the time.

I think it’s important to craft something, whether it takes months and months – you can tell the difference. It does go massively wrong sometimes, you just have to keep delving into your pot and you’ll get to something. I just keep a massive library. You don’t have to wait for these people do it yourself, or beat these people.

Don’t think they’re the golden touch to beat, there’s no reason why in 10 years time your dream might take over. For me it’s always new – there’s endless possibilities. Never stay the same all the way through.

Q&A

SODO: I love these things it’s always a pleasure to look into the whites of the eyes of the people who do these things, not just look at the work. One thing that fascinates me is when you start how do you strike the balance between commercial and personal work. I suppose the holy grail is something that is personal and commercial, how did you do it?

Eboy: We started with the personal and it became commercial after, it just happened. We didn’t much do without, we had a lot of jobs in the company we worked for and outside, like adverts for local beer house but we never showed that. […] We are asked by advertising agencies to concentrate on something. We didn’t go out looking for an agent or anything.

Bob: It’s that thing, you can tell if someone enjoys what they’re doing, you’re not trying to force it on a brief. People love that sort of stuff, it has a quality to it. You can dip into it, but no one is should be telling you what to design. It depends who you’re speaking to, I’ve done government stuff, people who don’t understand what you’re doing it’s too much. So you have to tone down your portfolio. Someone like Nike or something else, is more interesting. They are creatives it’s just a case of showing them that there is a little twist or spice, not to scare them, just saying you want to push as far as you can take it.

SODO: I find it interesting when people say this is my personal and this is my work, the people who have made successful careers don’t really make that distinction. If you separate them early you get this Jekyl and Hyde syndrome.

Adam Gee: When I first started out I worked with someone who made really interesting documentaries then after a time he started getting offered car videos and he invented a new lighting style for cars, and spent a decade in car commercials, and it got sucked away and lost the creative direction.

SOSO: How important is money?

EB: Very important. [laughter] It’s either money or really cool or both – which is good. When a job is well paid most of the time it’s very organised as well and a really good experience. Not so well paid are not so organised. We often do free contributions to magazines Which is very important too.

Bob: When you set up you’ve got to have a business mind, you can’t just create all these amazing things… You have to run a business. It sounds dry you do have to get money in to survive. You do have to take bad work. When someone pays you less, you have to learn to spend less time on things. You won’t spend six months on something, you’ll use something you created last week and twist it slightly. You have to be savvy about it but to edge closer, you have to ask for more money if they want you to make it better.

SODO: If people want to respect your work you have be paid by them. You have to realise that your work is worth something, with ODO people ask us for stuff by artists for nothing and we tell them that they can’t have it for nothing. You have to make people understand that it has a value no matter how small the contribution is, it has a monetary value. Quite often you get clients, someone like Nike, we’ll ask what the budget is and they’ll say hold on it’s a great opportunity, but you know it’s Nike. It is an opportunity but you have to balance it up but you have to have eyes.

Bob: I think the annoying thing is there are many people who would do it for free, you’ve got to have that belief, whether it’s a certain style that it took ages to crack. Something that’s that little bit different, in quality.

SODO: Sometimes it is an opportunity you need on your portfolio – but even this has monetary value.

Bob: You have to be the one coming with the best out of the deal, at the same time they’re using you – you’re using them. Sometimes you get more respect if you say no. Sometimes agents are useful for that, because you can make them the bad guy and get them to say no.

Eboy: We don’t have an agent. We do all that work ourselves which is sometimes it’s a bit difficult as some of these contracts can be long and in languages we don’t understand and quite scary. 4,5,6 pages long. You do hear about people who do their first job, sign the contract, and find something terrible in there. But it hasn’t happened to us yet.

AM: What makes you turn stuff down?

Bob: Gut feeling. Sometimes two days before, it’s no good thinking “I’ll push through, if I work it’s good money” because you might not get any more work because of it. It doesn’t work, if you equate more money with doing something better then you’re going wrong. You have to just realise whether it is going to happen.

SODO: It’s great nowadays you can do it all yourself but there’s a lot of value with working with people that specialise as well.

BOB: Diversify. When you work these days there’s so much you can do to get your message out there, not just a poster, but something interactive.

Audience member: I sometimes look at myspace and I’m really annoyed that there’s so much bad design out there. Now anyone can do it.

SODO: I think there is some good and mostly bad out there. Of course there’s stuff that’s bad but that’s what happened when the Box Brownie came out. Everyone thought that they were photographers. But a lot of great photographers came from that small camera, wouldn’t have done photography otherwise.

BOB: It’s also about how you apply themselves to it. All these things are immeadiate but it’s how you think about it. It’s important

SODO: It is changing the visual language, I was in a meeting with MTV the other day and we wanted to check out this designer’s site and we missed an ‘s’ off [and got the wrong site.] And we didn’t know whether it was ironic bad design. People didn’t want to say it was bad. Now it’s another form of graphic design – bad design.

SODO: How do you find it now that you some of the things you do have moved into moving image. So many people’s work is interactive.

SBOB: Sanderson Bob is myself, I know I’m not great at moving image, I’m not going to take time struggling with it, it’s a case of investigating talking to those that are trained in it, asking people who have the knowledge to give it life. Being outside this is sometimes an advantage because you can think outside any possible known restrictions.

SODO: How do you guys find it, we’ve seen one of your adverts that were made from your design?

Eboy: It’s really hard to make our stuff, it’s really time consuming. You have to do each frame by hand it takes a lot of time. It’s really expensive too.

SODO: A lot of students I meet are multi skilled, the quality is really deep. I wonder if something is lost just having the specialities?

SB: When you come in with a portfolio and are like that, it’s a strange thing. It does lose the power of delivery, whether you know what you do best. I’d feel more comfortable getting the one guy in who was really good at one thing.

SODO: It seems to me that for you, Eboy you’ve actually worked across a lot of media. I mean your work with Paul Smith for example, was T-shirts, bags, toys. I think if you are a successful designer these days, it is the holy grail, your work can be used in so many different mediums.

Eboy: It’s a dream for any designer to be on all these things. We just designed the images not the clothes. It’s always nice to see 2d work formed in real life. It was great to see the toy, to have it in our own hands. We are happy because we have so many projects.

Bob: The label is a great thing for me, got 30 artists illustrators on our books. Got some jumpers we’re working on. It’s good thinking about the side project, you can do what you want. Taking tiny steps. It’s a form of R+D.

Eboy: It’s always good to have fun.

SODO: It’s like you need to keep building your muscles.

AG: It’s important to get out of your area.

SODO: If you go the same way you need to go different direction. I often walk different routes home. You stop seeing it. It’s important when you visit cities to actually go and look around.

Eboy: Do you collect images then from you travels?

SODO: Yeah I keep them on Flikr which is my way of sorting them out. Myspace is alright but I find it limiting. With Flickr you can navigate you way round and plot your course. It’s interesting.

BOB: I’ve got boxes of scraps. I like to turn the box over, it’s like a treasure chest. It’s nice to touch it, check the finish or whatever.

SODO: Saying that I keep note books and make notes and it’s great to go back. The house got flooded recently and I lost a load of stuff. It’s great that that doesn’t happen on line.

Steff: I guess you’re making products, you’re doing service work for clients but you’re also being producers. I’m wondering is that what you’re going to be a design product company more than a design service company. Is that the way we should be going – product that is replicating or service?

SODO: It’s a process of breaking down the boundaries cutting out the middle man and selling to the public. Whether one product is created or thousands it’s important. OneDotZero is all research, everything feeds everything. Do you feel that Bob? the move from you a trainer company coming to you to you designing some trainers.

Bob: You can’t just jump into it, you need to work with people to get that real knowledge. I just wouldn’t dive into it to make a truck load of cash.

ODO: OneDotZero has this brand now and I’m very conscious of how it’s used. What it represents, I’m very conscious of that now. In a way it becomes its own thing and you can’t start by saying “I’m a designer but I realise the money is in licensing.” That’s not the way to start. Now it’s very attractive. We very much give advice and protection on that. You need to stand out in your area and do something original rather than copying people who make money. Amazon is a good example they make a tiny profit on books, but they sell millions of different books.

Eboy: It’s a world wide market, you have a lot more competitors but you have more clients world wide. More people can see it.

Bob: It’s about standing up for yourselves

ODO: I get very protective of the brand, in some countries a producer might design a bad poster and it’s embarrassing because that’s what were tryingt o stand for. My website I’m never happy with it. You have to represent by offering a good example, it’s hard. I’m excited about what’s happening next.


Poetic Justice

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As far as mainstream media is concerned, poetry is dying. However, the determined rise of the Oubliette podcast has proved that there is an audience determined to keep poetry alive. Dan Davies puts an ear to his computer and checks the meter.

Breakfast epiphanies
“I’m not a poet, I’m a film maker by trade but I like messing around with audio tech-ing,” claims podcast producer Richard Wood as we sup our tea. “Basically I’ve been into podcasting for years, I’ve just been trying to find the content and people to work with. I’ve worked with Matt Nunn on other projects – and he’s a published poet. Matt brought George Ttoouli in with him – who’s also published and works for the Poetry Society in London. Together we came up with the idea of Oubliette.”

Pidgin hole
An Oubliette is a type of medieval dungeon dug into the ground (FYI there’s one at Warwick Castle). The name derives from the French ‘oublier’ to forget. “It’s basically a hole where you put things to forget about!” laughs Richard. The name also encapsulates the niche of the podcast. Away from the commercial pressures of the outside world, it’s now easier to dig your own hole and though it’s tough to leave, people can be thrown into it with you.

I’m sent to Coventry – literally – as Richard is making the final cuts to episode four. I wanted to see this pit of poetic podding. When I arrive I’m surprised to find that Richard’s studio is simply a G4 laptop.

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Set-up list
“All you really need is a computer with an internet connection. For a recording device you can use either an inbuilt microphone, i-pod or even your phone… The software is straightforward – you can download it for free. Also software such as Audacity, iCast, CastBlaster, have been developed by podcasters. I use GarageBand for the Mac. When thinking about the content and editing, you’ve got to consider who’s listening and think about their attention spans. A good edit can go a long way.”

The live content of the cast is down to Richard taking his studio/laptop to poetry gigs and editing down their favourites for the show. The act of breaking out into the poetry circuit has also had a co-promotional effect. Performers are told that their work might make the next cut and a local following has grown. What has also emerged within the content is a specific West Midlands voice.

“I think it is something unique to Oubliette, to keep the talent within their region. You don’t have to go to a big city to be spotted. We can bring you to the world.”

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Oubtube
Though there are a few poetry podcasts out there, they mostly concentrate solely on performance. Oubliette is unique in that the show is in a loose magazine format. Here you can hear reviews, live performances, listings, net updates and a bit of history all in a friendly 13-15 minute burst.

“We keep as close to free conversation as possible. We have a sit down and have a chat about what’s going on. I’ll have my naïve side, George will have his established views and knowledge, and Matt brings in the comedy and one liners. We want the audience to feel part of it, we hope to have more of a rapport with them through using the comments pages and getting them to interact.”

Episode four is set to be more interactive than ever, featuring the first review of spoken word on a CD sent to the boys by Frank Burton and a Skype interview with a poet from Washington, who discovered Oubliette through their myspace site.

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Switching narrators
As a parting treat, Richard gives me a sneak preview of the next episode. I find out a bit about how GarageBand works and offer some EQ advice. To really see it in action we need to record something, so I offer myself up for interview. We have a quick chat and I even recite some of my own poetry. I could make it onto episode five, fingers crossed I get tossed in.


Reach At The Stars

The new article is now published on 4Talent. Here’s the original transcript with added Youtube goodness.

How did you start doing this?

I had been making music within the Hip Hop/Breaks end of the spectrum since as far back as 1997 with really basic equipment. However during 3 years working in a record shop I became frustrated at the pigeon-holing and genre classifications of dance music, and began making tracks which were either parodies of a particular genre (e.g. Trance, Trip Hop) or just mashed together stupid sample tracks which served as an outlet for my twisted imagination.


Who influenced you to begin with?

In terms of the Plunderphonics side of things, it’s hard to say. I’d already started mucking about cutting up people’s vocals before I’d heard of the likes of Cassette Boy or DJ Yoda, and didn’t know it could be taken seriously, most tracks were just piss-takes for making my mates laugh. Through being into Hip Hop and stuff I suppose my influences were guys like ColdCut, DJ Shadow (and through him Steinski), Aphex Twin…er and my group of friends, who all share totally different tastes in music.

Tell me about the SP1s…

Working in the hardware department at a DJ store you get to meet some right nutters. I met Spats because it was my job to keep him off the in-store decks – he’d just be in there scratching 8 hours a day! Switch was just a wee 13 year old nipper who came in one day, asked to have a scratch on the decks and just left my jaw on the floor with his skills. We decided to form a DJ team because Birmingham didn’t seem to be represented in any of the DJ competitions, and thus the Special Ones were born.

How did your interest in hip hop feed into the cut-up technique?

Most of my favourite tracks on Hip Hop albums were ones where the emcees shut up and let the DJ show he wasn’t just there to stand in the background. Guys like DJ Premier, Jazzy Jeff, Prince Paul et al would use sample based tracks or skits to break up an album. Plus the whole idea of “Hip Hop” to me is just taking things you weren’t meant to use, screwing around with them so you can try and get a point across or make people move.

Was humour or anger the strongest emotion?

Bit of both… Obviously I might be lying there one day thinking “I wonder what George Formby would sound like over Aphex Twin” and if it makes me chuckle to think about it, then I’ll bosh something together just for a laugh. If someone’s a dick and they appear more often than not in the national media, then it’s all too easy to record them and “have some fun”. There’s very rarely any real malice in the cut-ups I do, I’ve steered clear of political stuff for a bit now as the thought of listening to hours and hours of politicians talking bollocks drives you mental!

In some cases it’s the furthering of comedy say – for example Saxondale and Alan’s Lapdance, does this come from an affection for the comedy and a desire to further the joke?

Oh definitely, but the one thing is that I find that the love of genuinely hilarious comedies/sitcoms has a potential to cross more personal barriers than music. Whack a hundred people in the room and play Hip Hop- well 50% might not like it. Put Alan Partridge on a giant screen and most people will probably laugh! I don’t know if it’s really trying to further the joke, I think it’s about giving people something they might not normally expect in that situation. Most of the best club nights I’ve ever been to have been the ones where I’ve laughed the most!

Then with adverts you seem to be more on the attack with Cillit Cillit Bang Bang and Always Fresh (Lillets) –what makes adverts such a good target?

Just purely because some so hopelessly miss their audience target they generate a “cult” appeal, coupled with the fact that a normal TV advertising run might last as long as six months; meaning you might unwittingly watch a shit advert more than five hundred frigging times – that really gets on my tits. In terms of playing live, adverts do what adverts should: grab your attention!

There are certainly some aspects which appeal to students, is this a conscious effort or just because you’re a student at heart?

I’m a work-shy, anarchic, piss-taker so probably yes. We just try and make ourselves laugh. If that works then hopefully other people might find it funny too.

Tell me about your work with Matt (Roger Species) and the Chop Shop compilation. Are your targets different when working with him?

The Chop Shop came about as he moved in next door, we both realised we were making “stupid” music and just thought we’d start releasing the compilations of our dirty hard drives. If we make at least one person in the room go “What the fuck?!” then we’ve achieved something. We find the same things funny and just want the stuff to be seen and heard by as many people as possible.

Tell us how you moved from audio cut up to using video?

It just seemed a natural progression- plus even we admit most of our stuff’s too intense to just stand in a room and listen to it, sometimes you need something to focus on other than us just standing there grimacing in shame and getting ready to do a runner!

What kind of technology have you used to achieve this?

I use Ulead Videostudio 9 to simply layer the video over audio we’ve usually knocked up beforehand. It’s meant for making family videos and photo albums so it’s really crap for what we do but I’d rather knock stuff out quick than spend yonks creating some Peter Jackson epic. You have to manually layer every muted clip to the audio that’s playing. Obviously if you’re re-editing a speech by Tony Blair for instance, some of the separate sound clips might be as short as half a second, which means you have to do a bit of lip syncing! Sometimes it might be just a case of putting another video clip from a piece you originally sampled over an alternative audio clip, because it fits the mood or is funny. Playing live couldn’t be easier- once you’ve burned your creations to disc, you turn up at a venue and hope they’ve got a DVD player & projector!

Explain to me the role that you play in the on-line community has provided?

I suppose sites like Myspace, YouTube has just been a big middle finger up to the big record companies and the old “send out as much of your stuff as you can until you make it” idea. Now you can set up a music and video portfolio type thing in minutes and actively have people seeking YOU out. Now you don’t even need to know a thing about HTML/Graphic Design or Webspeak to create and update your own personal band/artist/producer page on the net. For the cost of a PC/Mac and an internet connection, you can broadcast your videos and tracks to ANYONE in the world.

Plus with the amount of copyright infringement in our tracks, we know that there’s pretty much no chance we’d ever get a record deal, so the internet serves as an easy way of getting to hear our stuff and similar types of cut-up music.

How do adding Mpegs enhance your appeal on myspace?

People on the internet have very short attention spans, just one click of the mouse and you can be looking at someone else’s page in a second. I think having videos can be an extra way of getting and keeping that attention, plus it’s just like having your own mini TV channel that people can turn on at any time, with no subscription charge.


Are any videos made with the visuals in mind?

Mostly it’s a case of work with whatever you can get, we doubt we’re ever going to get access to any BBC Vaults or anything so sites like YouTube are a god send as people post the strangest things, and clips can be downloaded easily. I use hixxy.net, a free transcoder site which allows you to convert a URL (Video location) to an .AVI or .MOV movie file from YouTube. Plus for the mean time- it’s free!

Have you benefited in other areas from showing your talent on myspace?

Mainly just through a few live shows we’ve already done. Getting them for our kind of stuff can be hard, but at least if people have a webpage to go and look at, there’s an easy way for them to go and see if you’re going to be their cup of tea or not. Plus, through word of mouth we’ve been played on quite a few radio stations, including Radio One a few times, which in turn draws a few people back to the myspace pages.

Do you have any tips for film makers and video people who want to take advantage of the virtual scene?

Just don’t be put off with the idea that you need to have really expensive video editing software or loads of money to get up and running. Muck about with clips that are already out there using the basic software on a start up PC/Mac, and just make sure you follow the basic idea that made you think of doing it in the first place. Don’t get bogged down with details- if it’s a self promotional thing then if you spend months perfecting it no one will get to see it… get yourself a video profile page and whack them out there!

Name some like minded individuals who are making similar types of music?

In terms of whether there’s a “group” of people doing the same stuff as us, well it’s hard to say as most people who make cut-up parodies/pastiches have tended to do it because they’re fed up with genres so most of them make hugely different types of music. Sample fiddlers definitely worth checking out include Cassetteboy, Osymyso, V/Vm, Shitmat(and the whole Wrong Music crew), People Like Us, Wayne Butane, Cartel Communique, The Evolution Control Committee and blimey, there’s loads but I ‘d be here for weeks….

How have the audiences taken it?

Mixed really! People either love it or hate it. Half our audience might be weeing themselves, the other might be open mouthed in disgust, certainly we had an angry bunch of Birmingham City fans who walked out of one gig on hearing their beloved team reduced to a gay orgy match against Chelsea. Some people have likened it to stand-up. Well we haven’t been given any chairs to sit down on yet, and I suppose it helps if there’s a notable presence up there other than us hiding behind a laptop and gadgets.

Are you utilising your scratch talents – would you be able to scratch this work with DVJ equipment?

I think at the moment the real bummer is that a lot of the high end equipment where you can scratch, loop, effect videos with simple movements is exactly that, high end. I think in a couple of years or so the ability to muck about with DVD’s in the much the same manner as Vinyl and CDs will become much more affordable and commonplace. In the meantime, you can still create acceptable effects, loops etc. with cheap video editing software. At the moment we hook up a turntable and mixer through some of Roger’s Effects, then have added extra bits to the tracks that are playing.

What do you have in planned for the future?

Chop Shop Vol II is still gathering tracks, 35 at last count, that will be available to get from our myspace pages, and we’ve already had a few songs from that out there on Radio so that’s cool. Viral Videos seem to be a huge medium for short attention grabbing tracks like we make at the moment, so we’re going to turn a lot of our shorter tracks into easily e-mailable files to spread out there like a Brummie plague. We’ve got a gig in Leeds for AV night “Look & Listen” coming up on April fool’s day (when else?) and are in the process of sorting out some more live AV gigs up and down the country at the moment so keep ‘em peeled. We’ve started our own night called Krapaoke Roger has a couple of upcoming releases planned for Wrong Music this year, I will be back practicing with SP1 crew for this year’s DMC Team comp, plus we’re playing live at Birmingham’s “Drop Beats not Bombs” anti-war night this coming May, so come down and check us out if you’re in the area!

Check out DJ Reach’s hugely entertaining myspace. I can’t recommend Alan’s Lapdance enough.


DJ Reach pitch

1. DJ Reach
What I need to determine from you is whether you want me to do something on the scene or on DJ Reach.

Firstly if we’re fitting it under a section we should perhaps concentrate on the transition from music to visual representation – which in the loosest sense we put under film. If we do this I think it would be best to concentrate on DJ Reach. In addition to talking to him about the scene, how he got involved and where he thinks it’s going, I’d also talk to him about the technical process of putting visuals to music.

• How Mpegs have enhanced his appeal on myspace. Culturally – broadband has made easy to have images accompany the music online, how easy it is to use simple computer software.
• Live performance, the lap top being boring, fancy dress performance. Visuals also giving extra. Use of DVJs to scratch.
• How to do it. What equipment to use and software you need. What sites and nights to check out.

Secondly what’s the Extra section about? If it’s more issue based features then we could do something more about the scene in general.

• More details about the history of cut-up.
• Its beginnings, how its perception and use has changed
• Who’s involved with it today?
• How the new scene can come about – myspace playing a considerable part. Club promoters can see it in action. Like minded people from across the world realise they’re doing something similar – the creation of a virtual scene.
• Asking people who are involved with it what they think the future can be.


Mike Gaffiney (Sept 06)

Robot in disguise 

We chat to Mike Gaffiney about the differences between soundtracks and music and the transformation of Robot for TV 

Mike’s been making music since he was a youngster and has been involved with TV production for the last seven years. He set up his own company last year, MKG Soundscape after he identified a need in the soundtrack world.   

“I started off as researcher and camera man, then moved into sound libraries. I know from being behind the camera what film makers want. I’m hoping I’ve spotted a gap in the market where I can make a bit of money.”  

On his address list for invoices, Mike now has the BBC, Channel 4, Maverick TV, a few corporate DVDs and local news programmes. He specialises in three music genres: lounge music, ambient electonica and indie pop. Mike manipulates his MKG sound to for each client, using his portfolio he also lets them take the lead. An important skill to have, is to also prove yourself flexible in your client base, 

“It’s important when you start, to build up your portfolio and take on jobs. You’ll get credit for it and your PRS anyway. Word of mouth is the way the TV industry works. Luckily, I’m at the stage now where I’ve progressed from working for less than I’m worth.”  

Mike works four days a week in the BBC music library. His soundtrack work has meant that he can afford to take a day off. The rest of his free time is soundtracking. It’s fair to say that most soundtrack people are one man bands. Mike Gaffiney is certainly no exception, 

“In Robot I’m the songwriter / singer so I play the songs on acoustic guitar. I grew up playing the organ and learnt to play guitar in bands, my dad was a drummer so I have a rounded view. There’s no real ‘Clapton style’ solos or anything, which I suppose again lends well to soundtracking. I like writing lyrics, but melody comes easiest. That’s what makes the soundtracking easy to do, because it’s loads of  melodic ideas.”  

The next step is to be a one-man producer.  

“I’ve slowly built up a studio and learnt studio craft and production. I no longer need five people in a studio and a producer. Because I’ve got a proper recording studio and a master suite I can do it all by myself. Every night after work or on my days off, I just build stuff.” 

The advantage of producing the Robot tracks in the home studio are also apparent.  

“I have the studio tracks so I can break it down to stings for TV: three and a half  minutes, 30 second, 10 second or five second versions. That’s just a good way of getting a full band sound. It’s great because it’s started to generate income for the band as well.” 

In addition to his own MKG sounds, Robot have got a licensing deal with State Of Independence providing music for anything from computer games to adverts. Using the music in soundtracks is by no means a case of cut and paste. 

“It should enhance your enjoyment of the programme but shouldn’t detract from the narration. You’ve got your work cut out because your natural instinct as a musician is to grab people’s attention, you have to back off melody lines and dynamics.”  

In the long run it just seems to be a case of living life creatively.  Just as Mike’s Robot work has fed into Soundtracking the reverse is also true.  

“I’ve got stuff stacked up which wasn’t appropriate for the client that I might use with the band…As a composer for TV, it’s best to pick your genre and stick to it, I think being in a band gives me a genre straight away.”  

 


Chris Keenan

The following will appear in the forthcoming 4Talent site:

What is Prime Objective? 

It wouldn’t be fair to call Chris Keenan AKA Prime Objective just a VJ. In fact, considering his pseudonym, the man has many objectives. His projects range from photos with Holgas, SLRs and Lomo, to films using digital, stop-motion and Super 8. He’s also a notorious mandolin player.

Check out any of his work or projects he’s involved with and you’ll see that there’s plenty of overlay. Perhaps, most telling is the work he has done with Southern Comfort. Originally invited to New Orleans to take photographs for Blowback magazine, Chris was commissioned by Southern Comfort to extrapolate his film making skills; which in turn led to VJ sets at Southern Comfort’s Fat Tuesday’s tent across some of the best UK festivals.

We’re sitting by the Fat Tuesday Tent at the Big Chill festival, Chris is snapping merrily away – whilst inside his visuals are scrolling out on the screens. It occurs to me that there is a connection to these shots and Chris’ short films. Chris’s Super 8 style, from his first film ventures to Fidget is always about catching snatches, quick glimpses and moments of stillness. Always loosely edited to music.

“The music gives the films a flow and something to edit to. I guess my other work VJing and making music feeds into that. I’m putting an extra layer of myself in there.”

Chris actually began VJing before he had a Super 8. Using his home-made skate videos and youth archive footage, he manipulated the footage through V-Jam software. Chris even managed to convince a local bar: Browns in Coventry to buy some equipment so he could play there

“One of the best times was at Christmas 2003. Me and a friend Mick did a six hour set taking it in turns to DJ and VJ. We spent weeks getting it together, it lots of fun but there was no real money in it.”

I ask him whether the preparation factor is intrinsic to his VJ gigs

“Well you build up an archive. Some VJ’s I see use simple, but effective material; graphical stuff and simple animation. Then for the live version they add effects – through certain bits of software. Video turns out to be a lot more time consuming – especially when it’s original.”

We slurp at our Soco Cocktails; whilst plastic alligators (put there to fit in with the New Orleans theme of the tent), goggle at us open mouthed.

“Sometimes visuals are done really well at big gigs. When it’s more of an event they take on more of a shape,” says Chris “It often works really well at festivals. The Big Chill has had some great work on the main stage this year. Incredible.”

Chris’ favourite gig was for Exposure Film Festival’s closing night at the Cornerhouse in Manchester. He was invited by Rant Magazine to VJ with DJ outfit Iacon.

“There was a long table with 5 decks: MPCs and Kaos pads. Then me stood at the end with a lap top – vision mixer and DVD players. It was amazing.”

Recently, Chris Keenan found himself another objective: to direct an MTV style video for My Alamo.

“I’d helped out on ones before and worked on treatments but this was my first proper music video. I directed a camera man, assistant director and a producer. I worked with a prod company Antidote. I edited it all as well – over several days! We’ve had a really positive response from it which is pushing me to do more.”

It’s Chris’ hope that in future he can develop an array of projects from photographic reportage exploits in the state’s to further Super 8 fun and mandolin madness

“A style and passion for your work is what makes people take notice of you. The small projects you set yourself can often be time consuming and costly but occasionally they snowball and can generate new work and even revenue. This is something I haven’t forgotten and I’ve got a load of other projects planned , you know, seeds to sow… which will hopefully bear fruit as they grow and develop. ”