Eclectic Method is a London based trio of audio-visual artists consisting of Geoff Gamlen, Ian Edgar (aka Cutswift) and Jonny Wilson (aka B.R.K.) Some call them remix kings, with their wide-ranging and commissioned video mix-tapes, but they are no typical VJ’s. Eclectic Method claims to be one of the freshest live shows in music, which is no surprise, as they have recently played such popular events as Glastonbury, The Festival, Winter Music Conference, BBC’s One Big Weekend and several major film festivals. Top companies like Blackberry, Motorola, MTV, Spike TV, Oakley, Adidas, Apple, AOL and Red Bull have all tapped Eclectic Method for launch parties.
They quickly developed their audio-visual bootleg style into live performances, featuring video turntables (Pioneer DVJ-1000) and mixing the visuals and audio live. The only way to describe it is sensory overload, which certainly proved true when the LostinSound/Use Your Head crew caught them opening up for Amon Tobin on the Rocks Off Boat Cruise. Although we are no strangers to the jam boat, the atmosphere that night was very different from the typical “in the round” setup of the venue. Giant white sheets were strategically placed to create screen draperies, alongside multiple projectors and AV equipment. Unlike anything else we’ve seen before, the trio blasted the crowd’s membranes with visual pop-iconic movie, TV, and bootlegged clips cut together in dance-floor wiggling madness.
LiS (Ranchsauce): Eclectic Method is Jonny Wilson, Ian Edgar and Geoff Gamlen. How and where did you meet?
JONNY: We all met via mutual friends. I met Ian first on a Ninjatune tour of ex-Yugoslavia, which is where I used to live.
GEOFF: We all met for the first time in London. It was one of those lucky breaks that life gives you, the three of us just locked into a mission together straight away and started cutting video to beats. Been at it ever since…
LiS: London’s music scene is definitely eclectic and colorful, with EDM (electronic dance music) beginning and evolving out of London. What artists and styles inspired you to become involved in making music?
JONNY: Fatboyslim, The Prodigy, Nirvana, The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
GEOFF: Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim were my strongest influences. I just loved the raw energy and reckless good time feel they generated, always took the dance floor on a great ride.
IAN: Most inspired by sample-heavy, eclectically directed DJs- Coldcut, Mark Rae, DJ Food, that sort of thing- but London’s sounds are always part of what we do- ska, d’n’b, garage, which fed into what’s now dubstep and grime.
LiS: Who were you digging musically before you were introduced to electronic music?
JONNY: A lot of music, from Dylan and Talking Heads to Bob Marley and Metallica.
GEOFF: I grew up in Manchester, so I have a long-standing love for bands coming from there. I like music with a bit of majestic Northern angst to it, think Joy Division, Magazine, The Stone Roses.
IAN: Tom Waits, Al Green, Bjork, Velvet Underground, Spiritualized, drug culture, radical hip stuff.
LiS: You guys began your exploration into the art of audio-visual mixing in 2002, when you first cut the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” with U2’s “Mysterious Ways” music video. What was that moment like, and how did Eclectic Method formulate from it?
JONNY: We were mad into DJs at the time, like Soulwax (2Many DJs), who were doing that musically and just wanted to do exactly the same with video. Both the first time we did that and the first time we played live in front of people were amazing “oh shit this is really going to work” moments. Fatboyslim had already taught us the mad power of vocal hooks on a dance floor we just took that and applied to video and everything.
GEOFF: It was an amazing time- suddenly there was this new creative landscape that we were all pretty much at home in from making tunes- beat-matching, cutting and remixing. But then the video makes a whole different impact, draws in another sense. We’d all seen and been inspired by video remix classics like Timber (Coldcut/Hexstatic) and EBN’s We Will Rock You. So we were standing on those shoulders but having that first piece come together with Beasties and U2 was a buzz. I think we all knew we were onto something special.
IAN: The realization that came from thinking “but you could mix anything…” was incredible, life changing stuff. Knowing that there’s always beautiful, undiscovered mixes around the corner is one of the big motivations of this game.
LiS: These days, many DJs are so A.D.D- trying to mashup every popular song they can into a track. Your remixes are simple, yet effective. I think this gives the listener more time to appreciate the work you are doing to alter the music. Is this intentional?
JONNY: We are ADD too, but thankfully having to do both audio and video keeps our attention enough that we aren’t switching grooves every 30 seconds. But yeah it’s intentionally-mind you our live show is completely improvised- completely unintentional. We can’t play the same show two nights in a row we wouldn’t be able to remember what we played last night. We have 4 turntables and a system for improvising.
GEOFF: Thanks- we try out a lot of different approaches, some of which are totally ADD too. One of our live clips is called Media Sickness Overload for good reason. But we try to strike a good balance between mayhem and joy. I certainly do love music more than chaos.
IAN: People had a skeptical view of mash-up (or bootleg, as it was in the UK) culture – that it was necessarily limited in its longevity. They missed the point that it’s limitless in its appeal and has been going on as long as culture. The technology is the new part. What people do with it is up to them. Essentially, you’re trying to satisfy yourself in the mix, so it just comes down to what sounds good right at that moment.
LiS: How do you guys agree on which sounds to remix and what parts to mash-up with one another?
JONNY: We don’t really need to agree, someone takes responsibility for one project and they lead it, people make riffs. We rarely disagree on videos so much that we try to stop the other person’s ideas. Every now and again I make a video that’s so offensive that Ian and Geoff beg me to take it down. But the last death threats we got were completely unjustified.
GEOFF: It’s a complete free for all. We just have to keep it all flowing and keep in time and trust one another.
IAN: There’s a lot of cross-over in taste. To the point that as new styles and artists emerge, we know implicitly we’re all going to dig them. Generally, there’s no limits to and no vetoes on what we’ll use though-nothing is sacred.
LiS: The videos that are projected on stage during your shows are integrated into your music, and they often reveal to the audience the samples they are hearing. Can you describe your style of videography and what sets it apart from other visuals DJs are using today?
JONNY: No, the video on the screen IS the sample we are playing. We are adamant that what you hear you must always see. If Kurt Kobain is playing guitar, he isn’t on the screen playing some guitar riff from some time. He is playing the exact same riff you are hearing. If you are a guitarist and you know the riff and you look at his fingers you will not be disappointed.
GEOFF: The whole idea is to see exactly what you’re hearing. It’s an immersive experience- scratches and cuts are reflected in what happens on the screen. As time has gone on, we’re seeing more and more DJs using these direct visual techniques because they’re a lot of fun to work with, and make a big impact on the crowd.
IAN: The clips we play should always reveal the sample. What you see is what you hear – or at least an element of it. What used to set us apart was that it was AV, rather than DJ + VJ, and only a few acts were doing that. Now there’s a bigger specifically AV scene and the techniques are used more widely. The difference is in selection, vibe and approach.
LiS: Artists like The Books and Mike Relm also utilize visuals on a higher level. Where do you find inspiration and influence for your style of visuals?
JONNY: It’s so wide and varied, we’ll look at stuff in print, in galleries, on the street, other artists like Coldcut, Mike Relm. Movies a lot, there a lot of amazing artists working in films nowadays. Inspiration is really everywhere and comes so much faster with the web.
IAN: In the dead eyes of Michael Lohan. In the lexical choice of Mel Gibson. In the wamp of some Subscape tune.
LiS: What is the future of incorporating video with audio? Do you see visuals evolving to be a more integral part of music and not just another stimulus?
IAN: People always take a while to work out what to do with the possibilities of new technologies. It took a while for people to work out the emotional impact of film editing. It took a while for two turntables and a mixer to become what we know as deejaying. The hardware, the software, the ability to do this hasn’t existed long – it all comes down to how people use that ability. We’ve seen so many people do so many amazing things in this distinct genre of audiovisual editing, deejaying and remixing and there are going to be staggering things happening in its future.
LiS: On your new mix, Convergence [38 mins in] you cut up a clip of a guy hating on what you do, saying, “Video remix DJs suck, Eclectic Method sucks.” Why do you think some folks would feel inclined to look down upon your style, and who the hell is that guy anyways?
JONNY: Basically everyone always has famous MC’s shouting “This DJ is the greatest” , “you are listening to the best dj ever” WE just thought it would be funny instead to ask famous people to cuss us. So now when we meet a famous MC or actor we ask them to say on camera how much they hate us, or how badly they want to sue us. I don’t really feel people look down on us, especially in America I feel blessed and feel mad appreciated and supported.
GEOFF: That is Chuck D! Style is just style, you can’t please everyone and we’re not trying to. Damn those purists…
LiS: Its not easy to earn respect as an electronic musician, but with performances at Glastonbury, Winter Music Conference and Camp Bisco, I think it is safe to say your respect has been earned. Your work shows that you make a conscious effort to keep things interesting and creative. How necessary is it to work in this way?
JONNY: We make a conscious effort to be different every single show. We are constantly collecting, making and changing and we will even make portions of video just for single events and venues.
IAN: It’s essential. I think if you’re not genuinely interested in what you do, people can smell it. More importantly, to put in the hours it takes to prepare this kind of thing, you have to want to. Chasing the dream of remixing the planet keeps the desire there.
LiS: Have you ever thought of incorporating fan interacting, by mixing audio/visual material sent in by fans?
JONNY: Yeah we have definitely use clips emailed to us by fans, but also we are definitely thinking up ways to up the ante on the audience experience.
IAN: We’ve crowdsourced on Vimeo and randomly mixed in people we’ve met or filmed on the road, but never made a specifically fan-sourced piece. Would love to, making bands on the fly out of musicians from around the planet sounds fun.
LiS: How do viral videos, movie and television clips fit into the Eclectic Method experience?
JONNY: Their vital to us, we’re representing all culture musically in what we do.
IAN: They are the very blood in our veins.
LiS: I’ve noticed on a few occasions you use Missy Eliot samples in your mixes. What makes her music and videos the kind of thing you like to use?
JONNY: Hype Williams? Great art directions, great tunes, great voice. Also her videos really represent her doing the vocals.
GEOFF: She’s got a great flow and a really versatile tone for remixing, works with every kind of music. And her videos are totally off the wall, always pushing imaginative ideas with the best directors.
IAN: Big iconic imagery – Hype. Lots of her on screen emceeing, rather than generic hood shots. Readily available acapellas. Great flow for house music.
LiS: What producers and new musicians are you listening to right now?
JONNY: So many. For me personally, still loads of Diplo & Switch. I think Die Antwoord is awesome. Then constantly listening to all the most obvious pop music and obscure South African township jazz like Johnny Dyani.
IAN: Heyoka. Boy Better Know. Two Fingers. Ghetts.
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Be sure to check out Eclectic Method’s library of video remixes at: