The art of remixing and sampling has been around for decades, and DJs have long been considered rock stars themselves (witness: DJ Hero). But all that has largely been an audio experience. In 2007, technology allowed some enterprising entertainers to manipulate video in the same way DJs ply their trade with audio. Pioneer released its SVM-1000 video mixer which built upon the brand's already popular DJ tech offerings, fundamentally changing what DJs were able to do with video in a live setting. Enter Eclectic Method.
Comprised of three Brits, Jonny Wilson, Ian Edgar and Geoff Gamlen, who split their time between London, New York and L.A., Eclectic Method is considered one of the best VDJ acts in the world, performing shows in such ... er, eclectic locales as Glastonbury, Cannes, Sundance and the Playboy mansion. In addition to the live shows, the group has worked with commercial clients such as Apple, Blackberry, MTV and more. Most recently, they were commissioned by Activision to perform at E3. And their remix of a Stephen Colbert interview with copyright lawyer Lawrence Lessig, prompted The Colbert Report host to air the video and dub them "DJ Jazzy Jerks."
We spoke to all three members of Eclectic Method about the evolution of VDJing, their creative process and more.
How did you guys get together? Jonny: We basically got together through mutual friends. Ian and I met in Bosnia in 2002 and then later that year we met Geoff because he had built a studio with equipment to do live A/V performance. So we started developing a live show together and out of that just came all the ideas of remixing stuff.
What's the creative process behind your remixes and live shows? Geoff: The main thing to distinguish between the live show from the studio stuff is that the live show is completely improvised. So it's a different show every time we play. A lot of times there isn't even a preconceived skeleton plan, we just improvise on the spot, and respond to what's being enjoyed. Every set of circumstances requires a different performance, really.
Jonny: One night it might be a completely chilled out set and then sometimes we play to big clubs full of people expecting big room house, then other times it's a really experimental set. We've also played for particular clients and the content we use is constrained to fit their needs. Like for E3, we used stuff from Activision's games with limited music and videos from their Guitar Hero series. A lot of times, even though those kinds of shows feature a more limited amount of source material, the process as a whole is more difficult because we've had seven years to work on our regular live show but had only a few days to prepare for something like the Activision shows.