Cut, cut, CUT

I’m not sure I’ve crafted a set or mixtape in the past couple of years that didn’t include a Supercut, and I bandy the term around liberally. But its typically met with blank looks, or the digital equivalent: internet silence. So what is a Supercut?

Supercut: noun \ˈsü-pər-kət\ — A fast-paced montage of short video clips that obsessively isolates a single element from its source, usually a word, phrase, or cliche from film and TV.

Got that? Ok, here you go, here’s your basic Supercut, every Christmas from 90210…

You’re probably like “So what?”

Well much as I genuinely enjoy that last number, Supercuts come into their own when they rampage across the silver screen, creating new meanings from old.

How about the atmospheric suspense of endless cinematic waits (from Swede Mason, the guy who brought you the now legendary “Buttery Biscuit Base”)…

Or, in a similar vein, tumbling tumbleweeds by Duncan Robson

I mentioned previously how much I enjoy interstitial material in my sets, the bits in between the other bits. The Supercut is THE perfect interstitial material. Its typically familiar to the audience, so it holds their attention in a way that precisely pixelated naked women also do. Plus, its a great bridge to jump from one element of the set to another.

Now quite where your Supercut ends and the remix or mashup begins is an ecumenical matter, but I for one love it when friend of the blog Matthijs Vlot sequences elements together to create a new narrative structure. What do I mean?…

I cant finish without a hat tip to Andy Baio (aka @waxpancake) for both coining the term Supercut and creating the definitive online archive:

Nor can I leave without paying homage to the master of the cut, Alfred Hitchcock, who elucidates on the montage editing technique with super acluity in the opening of this short interview…

Its good to be able to return to obscure yet literal links to youtube videos instead of actual words for blog titles. Just don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics, as there was no sunshine in this sojourn, for obvious reasons.

So, has the heat been getting to you? It was really making me itch: itching for a guerilla cinema. Having just returned from a holiday in Croatia, where outdoor cinemas are ten a penny, I was longing to get out and make one happen in Leeds. Its been a couple of years since my last one, a semi official affair during the Chapel Allerton Festival.

Fortunately last Friday night the forecast was dry and the evening warm, so off I set with a couple of pals to scope out a spot. We started with a false dawn, when we spotted the perfect site in a Headingley Park, only to be thoroughly ‘checked out’ by da yoot on bikes as we gave it a look.

they live 1

So on we drove, until we came to another park, which looked pretty unpromising. However, we decamped and wandered across to check out the back of a newsagents, that faced onto the main road. What a find! Light coloured walls, next to no light pollution, and best of all, a perfect little ampitheatre of grass facing the ‘screen’. I was so excited I sprinted back up the hill to drive the van down to within 50 metres of the cinema spot.

As well as testing the venue, this was also a test of how long the battery could power the projector. I have had bad experiences of running out of petrol with 15 minutes of Gremlins still to go, so was a little on edge all night. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried.

they live 2

We chose to watch John Carpenters They Live, which if you’re not aware was the inspiration behind street artist Shepherd Fairey’s Obey campaign (along with featuring the longest fight scene in movie history). An appropriate choice for such a venture we felt. Here are a few shots from the night.they live 3

There’s not a great deal else to say, other than stay tuned for the next instalment, as I will definitely do it again, providing we get a decent evening one weekend this summer.

A smoking dog called Butch

If you’ve checked out my mixes you’ll know I often use Dragontape as a proxy for a real live mix, not least as it’s near impossible to capture a live av stream coming out of my mixer.

This does have some disadvantages and glitches, but it’s still a fun way to blur the lines between a playlist and a proper live mix. Its also a pretty good way to show you how I use some of that interstitial material I was on about in my last blog. See for example the opening segment from the Tonight programme and the far our MIND POWER in “A smoking dog called butch”

smoking dog callled butch

The inbetweeners

I’ve always thought that the most interesting stuff happens in the gap between ‘things’, the interstitial spaces. There are any number of high philosophical concepts you could develop from such an opener, but I’m talking about incidental material that I use in my work, the stuff that isn’t fan videos or streaming from VEVO.

In the old days this would have been called ‘found footage’. It was unearthed at jumble sales and charity shops, but what is found footage in the digital era? Well some of it is that old analogue content, digitised for teh internets. A prime example being the AV Geeks, curators of an enormous archive of digitised footage, largely sourced from Public Service Announcements and educational films from the States.

But there is so much more, and so much more to my live shows than music videos. Some of my favourite material is a spoof, either knowingly or reimagined via remix. Take for example the oeuvre of Reverend Bob. I love the Reverend, not least because he is tangentially related to the Church of Sub-Genius, of which I am myself a Minister. Lets hear a word from Bob…

Continuing this irreligious theme, there are some great examples of found footage which were originally created for the old medium, but which were subsequently shared with the ether by a digivangelist.

If you detect a connecting theme of anti-establishment humour, its a gold star and extra milk rations for you. The bits in between are the places I get my message across and what makes a live set so much more than a music video mix.

Since I added a third ‘deck’ to my live setup, I’m finding so many more opportunities to expand on the relationships between interstitial material, with the ‘music’ often playing a subordinate role. I’ll look at the types of content that typically get overlaid via the third deck in a future blog. But for now, lets end, with yet more found footage from the old medium. Goodnight.

I’m continuing my obtuse approach to the creation of blog titles with good reason this week. Park it for a moment and read about A Man called Brian, a true visionary who’s been brilliantly skewering pop culture for the past 20 years.

You’ve seen Brian’s work. He’s a founder member of seminal audio-visual band Emergency Broadcast Network (EBN), creators of the George Bush mashup that opened the epic early 90’s Zoo TV tour, by the Bono band. Although early EBN stuff is something I rarely play, his more recent solo work often features in my sets, such as this clever nailing of copyright and remix…

More recently still, Brian has been breaking the fifth wall and reintroducing everyday experiences of the digital age as wryly conceived items and installations. Check out his meditation on the spinning wheel of ‘wait’…

This massive favourite of mine, real speech bubbles…


And paranoia writ large with real life cloaking & camouflaging devices, which… um… bear a striking similarity to my current avatar


You should totally check his website out, particularly the art page. You can also find Brian on Facebook, where he’s pretty active, including playing a live video show recently at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. What wouldn’t I have given to see that!

Ok, back to the videos, lets close as the man himself would want. Thats all folks…

Last year I was lucky enough to attend the life changing Do Lectures, an inspiring festival of ideas, held in giant a teepee in Wales and featuring a presenter roster to die for: Owner of Moshi Monsters? Check. Head of strategy for BBC Digital Service? Check. Founder of Vimeo? Check. You get the idea. Stupidly, I blagged my way on-stage to spread the gospel of streaming ether video remixes. A year on they invited me back to remix the presentations into a nightly rehash, a daunting feat I tried not to focus on. 

The Do was a little different this year, and featured workshops to develop products and businesses. A tall call I reckoned at the start, although with hindsight products like Doobox and Tentoring are an impressive demonstration of the group smarts. This left slightly less time for presentations, with many being highly structured around business strategies: not the richest remix material. Still, there were plenty of barnstorming speeches to add to the mix. I particularly enjoyed Alex Tutty on copyright, Mark Bolton on everything, Damon Collins on fucking focus and Michael Action Smith’s “Make beautiful mistakes” “Ask for forgiveness, not permission” and “Say yes to parties” the perfect bookends to a typical live set!

do acton

Unfortunately the first nights attempted performance was an epic #fail, with all the elements crapping out on me: first I couldn’t play the days presentations, then the internet died and finally the projector gave out. Thankfully, Friday was an entirely different kettle of fish, which saw me setting up inside my van and projecting onto a giant screen hung in the trees next to the pub. I kicked off with a number I’d been saving for the occasion…

I followed up with all manner of random stuff, most memorably, Cassetteboy’s take on the Dragons Den hashed with the Beatles ‘You never give me your money’. Other than a bit of rain dampening down the outdoor audience, it was a proper winner.

do branSaturday night was the first time I’ve had to wait for an actual giant to clear the space before playing, one of those unexpected Do experiences that make it so special. I was slotted in between the giant and the warmup DJ for Wales best (only?) surf rock band. This time we didn’t get a sluiced down by the rain, and thankfully the internet connection held out until the next DJ was ready to kick off. I would have made the most of the proximity to the pub, had I not had to drive the van back up the hill to my spot for the night.

do setup

The organisers were most hospitable and evidently appreciated my small contribution, as they gave me a special card with my name on that granted me free beer, as well as sharing a few kind words after the event. I also overheard one confused Do-er heading back to their tent early on Saturday morning saying “That was the trippy-est thing I’ve ever seen.” Whilst I’d venture their psychedelic experience must have been rather limited, it was music to my ears none-the-less.

free beer

I’m sure many others will sum up the intoxicating mix of food, company, fresh air and fresher ideas that constitute the Do much better than me. I was just absolutely delighted to play a small part in such an amazing happening.

I need to say a big thank you to Richard King for getting it, James for his outstanding projection screen solutions, Chris the awesome sound guy with the endless supply of cables, everyone who cooked, Kev the dude, Sean, Steve, Kate & Colin for the superb footage, Jon for popping my Mac cherry and everyone there for their amazing energy. It was a life affirming pleasure.


Start at the very beginning….

“…it’s a very good place to start”. I guess I should have followed that pop culture advice in crafting your remix eduction. Lets rectify that, particularly now sample culture and remix is back in the news thanks to some copyright liberties on the backing track for the Harlem Shake meme. The trouble is, there are several interwoven beginnings to this particular story.

I’m going to look at an artist who has been called the “unwitting inventor of turntablism” Christian Marclay. Never heard of him? No surprises there, although Newsweek named him one of the top 10 most influential artists of all time. He started out working with sound collage in the 1970’s, using scratched loops on records as percussive elements. Like many people since, myself included, his creative journey led him to incorporate visual elements.

Marclay came at this from an avowedly arts perspective. He wasn’t that interested in entertaining, he was making art. Perhaps the culmination of this is his 24 hour remix, The Clock, which uses samples from films to create a clock. Yes, that’s right, an entire day of samples. The Clock won the official selection prize at the 2011 Venice Biennale , as if you needed proof of his arts cred.

But I cant show you that, as Marclay is strict on the situations in which it can be viewed. Instead, lets look at some of his earlier work, Telephones from 1995. You can very much see this as the grandaddy of the latter supercuts such as Hello that I kicked this series off with.

I love how he creates an entirely new narrative from the samples, which is pretty much what I am doing in my live shows, creating new narratives from existing work.

Next up, we’ll look at some other remix pioneers, who were more party than arty…

Wrecking the net

Lets pick up that remix education with a collective who would doubtless have scorned an appearance on Rudetube. They are hot favourites amongst the uber hip Vimeo staffers, yet rarely hit 4 figure views on YouTube. Ladeez and gerrulmen, I give you Wreck & Salvage: three internet hobos riding the rails of digital refuse.

I came across these guys back when I was a promoter of av nights and didn’t tread the boards myself. They hooked me with an irreverent mashup humour that hinted of deep philosophical underpinnings… and intense bourbon consumption. Excitingly, they were broadcasting live video mashups over the intertubes a good 3 or 4 years ago. A feat I’m yet to achieve (though stay tuned on that front) and one giants of the scene, Eclectic Method, have only just got round to.

Many of their uploads are snappy, disconcerting affairs, coming in at around 30 confusing seconds. However I thought we’d take a look at one of their longer offerings, POTUSes. A simple idea delightfully realised.

Whilst they are not politically obsessed, Wreck & Salvage also feature in the mix that I promised to share last time round. Look out for Joe Biden commenting on the marvels of the internets in “Remixing teh internets”..

remixing teh internets

For more Wreck and salvage, I’d check their Vimeo, as YouTube limit what they can put out there.

I see a Motown or a Madchester

Although I’m looking to broaden sources of mix material beyond YouTube, with Vine in particular providing promising content, mashups are always going to be a staple of my sets. So spotting a ‘Rudetube Mashup Special’ whilst lazily browsing the old medium, I figured I could maybe learn a thing or two from their extensive research.

I didnt.

Clearly I shouldn’t have had high hopes for a no-rent digital rip off of You’ve Been Framed. But their top 50 countdown of the “best mashups on the net” left an awful lot to be desired. Since they used number of views as the sole criterion, I guess it’s not surprising there were some echoing voids in coverage. Some of my genuinely favourite mashup artists have views in the hundreds or low thousands. Nowhere near the 5 million odd views of the ‘winning’ video: a creation so acidic on the memory that recalling what it was entirely defeats me.

And so, inspiration struck for my next 50 odd postings.

Lets start by acknowledging one of the few artists Rudetube managed to include: Matthijs Vlot.

Now heres a guy, HERES A GUY who goes DEEP. I couldn’t think of a better opener. There are no beatmatched classsic rock songs synched to Missy Elliot in his mixography, hell no. When I’m talking mashup, this is what I’m talkin’ about.

Start your education with “Hello”:

When I watch this and consider the online remix oeuvre  I see a Motown or a Madchester. I see a movement with creativity at it’s heart. Only now, the geography is global not local

In my next post, I’ll show you how I would use this in a set. But for now, lets ponder a while on the unfathomable connections Matthijs must make in his head every time he watches a film.

As so often, YouTube limit remix material, so go check his Vimeo.

A good run in the cup

Not since Brother ineaux issued commands from atop the Leeds Uni during LightNight 2011 have I done any outdoor projection. So when the BBC asked if I could project some images of footballers round Bradford, I jumped at the chance.

It was a pretty simple job. Head over to the gorgeous architecture of Little Germany. Find some nice dark buildings. Fire up generator. Play the footage from 1911 courtesy of the Yorkshire Film Archive.

What started out as a 10 minute slot for Inside Out had suddenly become a half hour news special, so the producer also had some nice BBC footage of JB Priestley visiting Bradford that we also used.

I love this shot of him sitting in a carriage framed on a wall…

Priestley wall

I just hope this is no longer an appropriate epithet for the city…

lost city