Category Archives: VJ

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. ” 


I feel so Hexstatic (March 04)

As I explain in the intro we were really big fans of Hexstatic.

To represent or ‘blowback’ this feeling of prostration, this is one of the first articles I wrote where I admitted my ill prepared short comings. It’s also a time when I let the artists speak freely (whereas in the past I was used to wrapping up my articles in explanatory dialogue)as it portrayed more of their working relationship and banter.  

I Feel So Hexstatic!

 

Too much can be a bad thing

 

The prospect of Hexstatic playing Zoetrope, underneath Blowback towers, has got me a little over hexcited. I turn up at the sound (and vision) check to meet the boys, only to find that I can’t take them upstairs as I’ve left my swipe card in the office. No-one can let me in as, everyone else is at home getting ready to come out later. We shuffle into The Kitchen, (the venue not, actually a kitchen.) with me rooting through my bag only to realise I’ve left my Dictaphone…and the questions upstairs too. Things are not working out.

 

More kerfuffling ensues as we’re told that the bottle of wine Stuart’s been carrying round, can’t be drunk here. The waitress eventually sees the look of dire need in my eyes and relents. I take a glass.

 

I break the ice by telling Robin and Stuart about when we started the Blowback – all those months ago – we had a wish list of people we wanted to interview. Hexstatic was on it. Their heavy mash up mixture of breaks, beats, Cliff Richard and whatever generally got a party going, expertly combined with a visual eye fest that has reduced MTV flickers to tears of joy; was one of Blowback’s earliest baptism moments. They are, in short, directly responsible for influencing the gorgeous beast. I’m met with awkward flattered silence. Okay, it wasn’t really a question, as such, what does it feel like to be heroes?

 

R: Oh I don’t know, we play the 333 quite a lot and people tend to lump us in with them. But we take it quite modestly I suppose.

 

S: It’s funny because we were always doing our own thing. And now it really does seem like the future. We’ve never really been over involved with Avit’s site or huge technical improvements or anything. We’re always pushing it though. I mean I’ve got a new Mac and y’know it’s a brand new laptop and I already feel like I might be stretching it.

 

R: Now it’s something to be a VJ though. There’s been a real development in software and equipment.  V-Jammin’ and better programmes for editing and looping.

 

S: I’ve got this DVD mixer, which is amazing! We’ve got the new Ninja DVD on it so we’re going to mess with that. But we are throwing things in all the time – the set is evolving as we play.

 

R: We like, build off the set, we’re throwing out the things that don’t work and he’ll either bring something new to it, or I will. It does get difficult, you get into set routines after about 30 or 40 shows. But tonight, well we haven’t played for a while so we’re just going to mess with it.

 

R: We don’t really have rehearsals. I didn’t like the idea from the start.

 

Tomorrow Hexstatic play the Lille Capital Of Culture festivities. Over on the continent they look at visuals in a different way, more prestige is given to the visual artiste.

 

R: Well we’ve played The Guggenheim Musuem (laughs) that was surreal.

 

S: We don’t do this for chin strokers

 

There has been a slightly more, goatee growing political angle to some of Hexstatic’s work. Back in ‘98 working with Coldcut as Hex, they did a Greenpeace record called Timber, which featured sampled up rainforest carnage. Recently pictures of George Bush and chimps have appeared in the live show.

 

S: [Conceding] Well it’s kind of there. The Timber track was more for Coldcut really, but mostly we’re in it for the laugh.

 

R: We’ve kind of found that a lot of people who do visuals are quite political. Y’know The Light Surgeons etc…

 

S: Infact when we were over in Chicago, some people from the audience actually thanked us because we weren’t political. It was like ‘Thank God there’s only so much 9/11 stuff we can take.’

 

R: We enjoy it. We’re about having fun. If we weren’t having fun we wouldn’t do it.

 

I launch into a rubbish speech about how you can’t produce art if you’re unhappy. Complete balls. Robin bails me out by saying,

 

R: We want people to have a good time.

 

S: I’ve never done a gig sober I don’t think… Well the name Hexstatic is a homage to that life style I suppose.

 

R: Yeah I did a bootleg with Flawless and Eminem’s Purple Pills, that was supposed to be the ultimate pilled up anthem.

 

S: I’ve never thought what it would be like to experience it sober.

 

Funnily enough neither have I! Stuart takes another glass of wine, Robin unfortunately, has to drive tonight. The pizzas arrive and we’re told we most certainly cannot eat that in The Kitchen. Others Blowbackers arrive and say equally as dumb things to the boys as the night properly begins. We get smashed.

 

I remember Bush’s leering face, Nancy Sinatra doing Drum n Bass, Julie Andrews doing something unmentionable and Cliff being totally wired. I remember laughing my arse off, dancing and everyone looking, talking bollocks to a French guy… fragments to piece together in the morning.