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Eclectic Method VJs In the Studio

Ever seen Method Man rapping with The Muppets or Andre 3000 drumming for The Beatles? If not, you’ve probably never been to an Eclectic Method show. Like renegade DJs for the MTV generation, the three-man group mashes up music videos and other pop culture clips, using Pioneer DVJ-X1 video turntables and VJamm software. Their eclectic aesthetic is heavily in demand: in the past year they’ve rocked scores of venues, ranging from clubs like Dublin’s Redbox to a Swiss fashion show to a London NFL event where they remixed the Super Bowl. Lately they’ve also been spending some quality time in their studio, putting together a bootleg music-video mix DVD called We’re Not VJs. As the title shows, these irreverent Londoners like to thumb their noses at easy categories–just call them eclectic. Jonny Wilson (aka B.R.K.) chats about his group’s techniques and explains why he thinks video turntables will soon be coming to a club near you.

XLR8R: What are some of the essential components of your studio setup?

Jonny Wilson: We use PCs mostly, and we have video capture devices, and now we’ve started using the Pioneer DVJ a lot more. We’ll burn some video clips and audio on DVD and then try it out on the DVJ and scratch and resample it, doing live jamming. But mainly we use a desktop PC and Sony Vaio laptops to compose our video mixes. There are a few other things, like an e-Mu E6400 sampler, but that’s mainly used for remixing beats.

How about software?

One of our main programs is Sony Vegas, a video and audio mixing program. We also use After Effects, Combustion, and Premiere. On the music side, we use Cubase. A live video-sampling program called VJamm is our main staple, because the DVJs are quite big and hard to take on a plane when we tour. If they could be smaller, they would be fucking amazing. I reckon in about five years’ time, we’ll probably end up doing most of our show just on DVJs.

Why?

Clubs will replace Pioneer CDJs with DVJs, so they have the option to do video mixing. DVJs are already starting to get more widespread. We went to the Sundance Film Festival, and they had DVJs there; I think a lot of big events are renting them out. A club we went to in London the other day, Koko, had them built in. It’s going to be the standard now.

For DJs who are considering adding visuals to their sets, how difficult do you think it would be to learn how to use the Pioneer DVJ?

I think it would be easy. It’s basically the same principle, but you’re just crossfading video as well. There are so many people starting on CDJs now, and the DVJ is quite similar to the CDJ-1000. The scratch pad responds in exactly the same way, and it has the same cue points and buttons; the difference is that the DVJ has extra features for DVDs. But in order to use the DVJ properly, you have to do a bit of preparation. Ian is using it very much like a scratch DJ–he’s scratching up acappellas like anyone would–so we’ve had to make acappella [music] videos where we take the video and put just the voice [from the same song, minus instruments] over it. I think it’s fair to say we have the world’s largest collection of a cappella videos. We were joking with Matt Black [of Coldcut] about doing a battle breaks acappella DVD, which is illegal, really, but someone’s going to do it.

What trends do you see in bootleg mixing or live video mixing?

Well, the bootleg thing is massive and is pretty much a staple of most DJ sets now– even big trance DJs will mix in Beyoncé acappellas and stuff. But I’m waiting to see other people doing music video mixing out there. I just haven’t seen enough of it yet, and it’s something that’s so easy to do. It’s like how music-making became easier 10 years ago, when everything could be done on a computer, so there must be loads of kids out there doing it–and if not, they should try it.

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