Archives for posts with tag: VJ


It’s about time David Kwan is recognized for all his artistic work, and I’m happy to facilitate this. He is a close friend and one of the hardest working people I know. Learn about his efforts for Decibel as a graphic designer and VJ. You can catch him doing visuals live tonight at my Vermillion show. This event has been put together by Tremel; DJ, producer and writer for Disco Droppings and features performances from himself, dod, Max Taylor and me. Hope to see you there. 

DD What drives your graphic design role in Decibel? Are there major themes or concepts being focused on in 2013, for the 10-year anniversary?

DK This year’s creative drive captures the essence of Decibel. Each year of the festival is like a layer of ideas that builds upon one another. The approach was to capture all those ideas from the early beginnings and refine those sets of ideas. In the process I reviewed the profiles of past dB artists, listened to samples of their music, and went through tons of old photographs, down to observing the personalities of the staff. I wanted the 10-year brand to be about Decibel’s community and culture, not just what looks cool. What I discovered was an array of dark tones, which made sense being that the root of Decibel began from the deep underground–no pun intended. 

There was an untitled quote I read one morning on Facebook which said, “You can’t live a positive life without a negative mind,” which made me reflect a little further about this year’s theme. That quote rang true for Decibel and a lot of other things the more I thought about it. In a nutshell, you can’t have yin without yang, and you can’t discredit either. Historically, Decibel has hosted many stark and obscure events, which is what I wanted to extract and condense for this year’s theme. In doing so, participants will be able to witness and experience Decibel for what it really is, and be able to better appreciate it. The night might not be as bright as the day, but it sure as hell is sexy.

DD What led you to become a VJ, and what role do see visual artists playing in a show environment?

DK The funny thing is that I didn’t intend to become a VJ after I was done with college. Being a graphic designer is my full time job, but one of the tools I use to conceptualize new ideas stems from motion graphics. It’s important to understand the different fields of art to help enhance what you do as an artist. Knowing art is good, but it’s not enough to help you evolve creatively. Similar to being a plant biologist, if all you do is focus on plants, you might be missing key knowledge from other fields that may help you discover something groundbreaking. In the end it’s all about holistic thinking; that’s how I stumbled upon becoming a VJ. 

The VJ arena is still very much in its infancy and growing rapidly. It’s sort of overshadowing an era of expensive physical stage production and moving more towards affordable virtual reality as technology advances. That’s not to say building heavy stage sets will become obsolete, but it does mean that stage production is shifting towards a new paradigm. There is a time and place for physical stage sets — plays in theater, for example– but it’s not very practical when you’re talking about a low budget music show. The nice thing about having a VJ during performances, is that it grants stimulating visual access for musicians and their audience, which in the past might not have been possible. In many ways, VJ’s helps the musicians tell their story a little better while helping their audience understand their music a little more. A special dynamic occurs when you combine music, visuals, and a lot of serotonin resonating from the audience.

TobinAmon Tobin, ISAM / Visuals by LEVIATHAN

DD This will be our third time collaborating on a performance. How would you describe the direction of the visuals this time around?

DK This time around we’ll be entering a dystopian science fiction environment, where I’ll be taking everyone though space, then back to Earth and beyond. I don’t really want to spill the beans for anyone, but the goal is to follow the theme of the music set. With that said, your fans could probably imagine the journey I might take them on. Did someone say neo-noir genre? Yep, there’s going to be a lot of that in the visual set. I’m pretty excited to roll out some new eye candy.

943021_4900462314343_1993084720_nJimi Jaxon + David Kwan @ Bok Bok Showcase via Kyle Young aka Tremel

DD Your work as a graphic designer and VJ puts you in the background, where audiences may not see whose behind it all. Do you enjoy this perspective? 

DK “Lord of Light! Come to us in our darkness …'” sorry I couldn’t resist throwing in that “Game of Thrones” reference. I actually enjoy working in the shadows, it gives me the opportunity to focus on my craft behind the computer or behind the stage without a lot of distraction. Sure, it’s not the same as getting full attention from the audience, but I am touched when I see sparkling pupils of joy emanating from the crowd. Especially when I hit the soft strobe or fade in a scene of slow crashing waves headed straight towards the audience. If they’re happy, then I’m happy too.

dakwanDavid Kwan @ Andy Stott Showcase w/ Kid Smpl via Mollie Bryan

DD Where do you hope all this effort takes you in the future? 

DK I’m not really sure, but since I am in the business of creating virtual realities I guess I can go anywhere. :]

dakwan3David Kwan w/ Giraffage

– Jimi Jaxon




Last time I talked about Beeple on Disco Droppings, it was August of last year. He put out a free Creative Commons licensed VJ pack called “four.color.process”. Once again, the very generous Beeple of the Brainfeeder crew is giving more shit away! When I say “more shit”, I mean resolume pack one; 10 ultra sleek HD VJ clips that I would LOVE to have behind me during DJ sets. Each clip in this teaser video has a song accompanying it; music from MSZ, Dayggs and Donny And The Robot stood out to me most. 

This clips come to you via Resolume, a VJ software company based in The Netherlands. Since 2002, they have been a tool for live VJ’ing and audiovisual performances. 

Beeple – Facebook

– Jimi Jaxon 


Some of you may recall my past interview with the very talented Beeple (Brainfeeder). His most recent project empowers VJ’s (aka visual jockeys, aka the dude controlling visuals at shows) with four.color.process; a free pack containing 10 clips of a similar theme. Use these Creative Commons licensed clips to amp up your next VJ sets. Under this license, clips can be edited to your liking for any/all commercial and non-commercial purposes. Got nutz. The “four.color.process” link contains all of the Cinema4D project files used to make these clips, plus Adobe Illustrator files used to make some of the textures and similar graphics.

Music by Strangeloop

Beeple – Facebook Twitter

– Jimi Jaxon

Time to give a VJ major props. Ghostdad ran all over with Porter Robinson for his 30-date Language Tour, showcasing some of the most badass visuals I’ve seen in a while.

DD Hi Ghostdad. Porter Robinson sent me your way via Twitter. How are you doing, and where are you at right now?

GD I’m good! I’m in Brooklyn New York. Just got back from the Language Tour and crashed out for a few days but I’m slowly returning to real life.

DD Was this the first tour you’ve been a part of?

GD This is the first Porter Robinson tour I’ve been a part of. Before that, I was on tour playing music and visuals with my band WIN WIN, and with Spank Rock as one of his backing DJ’s also doing visuals for his show. I’ve toured in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.

DD Rad. How did you did you hook up with the Language Tour, and what made it unique?

GD Porter and his management saw some of the WIN WIN visuals and commissioned me to make content for his show. They mentioned they were also looking for someone to VJ on his tour and the rest worked out from there. This is the first time I’ve focused just on visuals without performing or DJ’ing on stage at the same time, so I could really fine tune it. The scale of the venues and production were also bigger then the past things I’ve done, which made it a great opportunity to put stuff on a big screen and make it look really good.

DD Talking about big venues and screens is a perfect introduction to EDC Las Vegas 2012. I went with a few buddies and felt that 3 artists brought their best; Afrojack, Feed Me and Porter Robinson. For Porter’s set on Day 3, my friends and I were dumbfounded by the combination of his set and your visuals. One friend was dancing like mad and stopped dead, staring at parts of the show. VJ’s have such an integral role in live environments, especially with electronic music. They are usually in the background, not getting a lot of recognition so I wanna stop and say, rad fucking job!

GD Awww shucks man thanks. Porter definitely brought it musically, I remember him killing it. Festivals can be tough. For the DJ and the VJ I guess in this case. You’re often thrown in with 10 minutes or so to make sure everything is plugged in and works and then someone is like “GO!” and you go. EDC was a surreal experience mostly because of it’s size. It’s probably not as nerve racking as being on stage but looking at the crowd from front of house you could see the tens of thousands of people that were there. Those were some amazing screens and the production designers deserve props on making it look amazing to start with. Also thanks to the guys at @vsquaredlabs for putting me up on the screens, they were running most of the content that day and graciously patched me in. 

DD Now going into these visuals more, how much input did Porter Robinson have on all the imagery? Did you show him a bunch of ideas and bounce it off his thoughts, or did you present it all to him and he was like, “fuck yes”?

GD We had a really good back and forth going for the two months leading up to the tour. I would send batches of ideas and he would come back with notes. We actually found a lot of common ground when looking at our Tumblr feeds for references. Somewhere in the middle I went and did visuals for him at Coachella, which gave me a chance to see some of the stuff I was working on and pick it apart a little more. We also worked with two other video artists who prepared content for the show so I was grabbing their stuff and making it VJ-able during that time as well. 

DD Yah, he seems very involved with all aspects of his presentation as an artist. How would you describe the theme of these visuals? There’s so many themes melding together; video games, anime, Mayan/Egyptian shit, nature and space..

GD I think Porter wanted something that was stylish and artistic without being too serious.  Looking at Tumblr feeds as a pool of ideas contributed a lot, and we definitely follow some blogs that go heavy on the themes you mentioned, as well as gifs and internet memes. I like referencing internet stuff in my visuals because it gives people something to grasp on too. And we might be of a generation where video games and nature and space are all sort of naturally dazzling to us, cuz we grew up paying attention to them so much (or maybe that’s just us nerds ha). It’s good to have some graphics that feel recognizable in the same way Porter plays songs people recognize as sort of arrival points in the set. 

DD Any funny memories from the tour you can share?

GD There were lots of funny times with the crew out there, everyone was awesome to hang with. I can’t think of any specific things off hand I’m still sort of coming out of the blur of playing a show every day for a month. One thing that was funny during the shows was when Porter would change his routine a little bit to mess with me and our lighting designer. On the mixes he did often, sometimes he’d change it by 8 or 16 bars which he knew full well was messing with us. We’d end up launching our cues then have to sort of dial them back and wait for the right moment, and I could see Porter laughing on stage cuz he knew we were scrambling. I think our LD Ben, found a way to shine lights in his face or something to get back at him. Made for some fun unpredictable moments.

DD Haha nice. Where do you go from here?

GD WIN WIN has a new record coming out this fall and we’ve changed our live mode from a DJ/VJ setup to drums, guitar, synths, and live visuals. Very excited for all of that stuff. Here’s our latest single

And we printed some posters that are sort of visual preview.

Plug plug plug haha! I’ll be working on more dates with Porter too, we’re figuring out which shows and festivals make sense to bring a VJ too. You may see some of the elements I made in pre-programmed form at some of his DJ gigs, where projection is available in the meantime. 

DD Well I wish you the best with all that. Thanks for talking time to talk with Disco Droppings.

GD Sure thing, thanks for having me!

Ghostdad – Twitter

– Jimi Jaxon