What makes a music event experience more memorable is the journey a beautiful marriage between audio and visual can take you.
The often forgotten people behind the brilliant visual stimulations, video jockeys are slowly but surely stepping out of the shadows of DJs as they continue to create a stand alone, independent form of culture. By harmonising the two most important senses, sound and sight, VJs in electronic music have transformed the clubbing experience into something more euphorically modernisitic.
Working as a resident VJ for international dance music event COLD TECH, Melbourne based Crims first started VJing a year ago, yet is already defining a clear and distinct personal touch in the visual field. Capable of synchronising his aggressively chill visuals with that of the DJ yet flexible enough so as to adapt to a variety of styles throughout the night, Crims has unapologetically pushed the boundaries when it comes to visual stimulations. With elements of military nonchalance and heavy anime influences, the dark, Australian-British mastermind creates multimedia shows that are little bit twisted but a whole lot aesthetic.
Hey Crims, tell us a bit about yourself.
Well I was born in the UK. Birmingham to be precise; birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and hasn’t done much since serving as the inspiration for the more depressing places of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Cheery place over all. I moved to Melbourne when I was 12 as my father had grew up in Australia and I haven’t been back since. I don’t have much to go back for really except to maybe perform in all those warehouse raves I saw people spilling out of at 7am when I was a 10 year old at rugby practice. There’s obviously so many things from my early life that influence my work now but the only I always think of is that my parents would always play 70’s motown, soul, funk and rnb in the house and as such, funk and a good bassline are guilty pleasures still today. As for study, I did some Japanese as a passion project then moved on to a B.A in English and History combined with another B.A in Secondary Teaching, which seemed a good idea at the time. I’m still figuring out what I want to do with these but it’s nice to have options to support myself while I also work on VJing and other visual stuff like directing. That and because I’m technically a teacher, I will never be cool again so I don’t have to worry about trying to be.
How did you get into started in this industry?
My first proper gig was right at the end of 2014, with the COLD TECH group I’m still with today. I had an interest in doing Visuals from an eye-opening night out in the Tokyo underground club Mogra, and my friend Lincoln (DJ Velatix) who runs COLD TECH offered me a chance to perform. He was very open that he offered me the spot because we were friends but stressed that it was chance and I wouldn’t be kept on if I didn’t do well, which I really
appreciated. For my first gig I put in an awful lot of work and heart into both the preparation and performance. I have had a passion for creative arts for some time but never had the skills with which to follow through with until I discovered VJing, so it became something I could channel a lot of energy into quite easily. The entire night went so well and I got some great feedback. After that I became part of the COLD TECH crew on the back of my work, not my connections.
I spread out a bit after that start, working with other people and events I knew, either by referral or otherwise and started doing stuff with the HELL Melbourne group and many others. I have always been thankful to the people who vouched for me or set me up and every time it happens I work my best to earn that as it has been a huge reason for how I’ve gotten to work with so many cool people.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Originally I was inspired to start by an incredible night out with friends in Tokyo. We went to a club called Mogra - this relatively small club near Akihabara in Tokyo (it’s the nerd district, focusing on anime and video game stores). I had no idea what the expect going in but we had vaguely heard of a few of the artists or something like that going in. What we got was easily amazing. The music all night was so hyped up and energetic, the DJs didn’t just press play but danced around, performed and were all essentially hyping the music up and MCing. The visuals were going all night, swapping VJs for new styles as needed and even the lighting and smoke guys where on stage going at it. The two sides of the club had been converted to giant set of canvases on which artists painted and drew and everyone could pitch in. It was really just so amazing as the entire night was this combined passionate performance. One friend left with a desire to DJ, later forming COLD TECH. I left with an itch to do something that encompassing and passionate.
The entire club was so dark and grimey with really hardcore dubstep and Japanese hip-hop inspired music but also with these really bright visuals from the VJ and sexy and cute art on the walls, both anime inspired and otherwise. And that’s essentially the sort of style I find most naturally comes up in my work.
As for what directly inspires when I work, there’s a few things that stand out: mainly video games, military and anime. There’s a lifetime of video games to draw from. I started from a very young age and one of my earliest memories are of sitting in my bunk bed with my dad playing tomb raider in my room till late in the night. I use an awful lot of military footage within my visuals which stems from my fascination with history and military history - a side effect of as a child watching endless classic WWII movies with my dad. Boys and their toys you know?
Lastly is anime. It’s strange to say I’m inspired by it because it has changed so much in the last decade, but for that it was risqué and obscure, truly fascinating to experience. It is also so schizophrenic and unique to itself that it can mean so many things to so many people and that is a major strength. Each show has its own art style, tone and feel. From Saturday morning cartoons to dark and sexy intrigue. I was drawn to it because of its style and direction. I use anime visuals from Sailor Moon to Ghost in the Shell - the movie that inspired The Matrix.
Catch the full interview with Crims in our MAR/APR issue. Click here to read and purchase a copy