The Brixton Blog arts editor Ruth Waters spoke to Mark Stangroom, one of the team behind popular Brixton-based audiovisual club night VCR about the highlights and challenges of starting a club night with a twist.
VCR are celebrating one year of amazing nights, music and videos this Easter – check out the preview for their celebratory event here.
Our birthday promises to be the icing on the cake of a great 1st year. The past 12 months have allowed us to do something pretty unique in London, namely establishing a club night devoted to quality electronic music as well as eye popping visuals.
We’ve had plenty of stand out moments this past year, Brixton clubbers never fail to entertain and the VCR crowd have been awesome all year.
Our music policy allows us to be pretty eclectic, which means we can dive deep into the video crates and pull out some more obscure gems to play alongside our favourite contemporary stuff, and the VCR crowd are always up for it, moving effortlessly from hip hop beats and dance hall to classic disco and boogie, wonky, funk fueled electronica to trap, garage and jungle.
Starting a club night is something most of us have probably talked about in the past at some point, so getting the opportunity to do it, and then pull it off is a highlight in itself. It was Tom’s idea to run a video themed night. He’s been playing VJ sets for a few years, inspired by people like Solid Steel/Ninja Tune pioneers Coldcut and Hexstatic (who will be headlining the 1st birthday with a brand new Acid House AV set).
Another highlight was working with Mas Effect, a local musician and visual artist. Last Summer we spent an afternoon with some martial artists on the roof of my building filming them do their stuff, flying through the air, spinning kicks, cartwheels, proper Street Fighter 2 stuff, which he then remixed and performed live on the screen at VCR to devastating effect.
People often ask if we are actually controlling the video, it often takes some time for them to realise that the music and video are synced up together. We use a combination of sources for what we play, if a song has a good video and we can get a high quality copy of it, then we will use it. Other times we like to make our own video edits, or take an amazing piece of animation we’ve seen and attach it to the latest hot tune to play together.
Of course, all this technical trickery is great, but as always technology brings its own set of problems. Setting up takes twice as long as for a normal vinyl set, and there is the fear of gremlins causing havoc in amongst all the gear and having no music or videos, but luckily we haven’t had that yet!
We’ve had some great guests and friends along too this past 12 months, with a personal favourite being Wrongtom who brought his vinyl only dancehall set to smash up the dance, whilst we provided special VCR sound system visuals for his performance.
Onwards and upwards, we are almost at our birthday and hope you can join us along with our very special guests Robin Hexstatic, Mr Beatnick, Josey Rebelle, Mach V and LPZ on the 18th of April at Electric Social.