On Saturday, August 27, several of the Twin Cities’ finest video artists and DJs will be coming together for a very special edition of the weekly “Black” party at First Avenue’s Record Room. The party, called the Twin Cities EJ Festival, has been put together by local video artist Nico Demonte, aka 000000000001. I interviewed Nico ahead of the festival to see what all the fuss is about. Here is that fuss, for your reading pleasure:
What is an EJ?
The term EJ was coined by Justin Kent, the inventor of the EJ Midi Turntable.
An EJ is a new type of multimedia performer. Even though an EJ can be
seen as a combination between a DJ and a VJ, we see the EJ as a next
evolutionary step in visual performance. One UK producer is using the
909 drum machine with the EJ Midi Turntable for soundtrack editing.
Video editors have been inspired to use the EJ Midi Turntable for the
Terminator 3 music video and performance artists like the Blue Man
Group have incorporated the technology.
How did you get the idea to throw an EJ festival?
I wanted to put the Twin Cities on the map in terms of video
performance and new technology. There are some great video artists in
Minnesota and the Twin Cities EJ Festival is a gathering of DJ’s, VJ’s
and EJ’s in one area. This is a great opportunity for visual artists
to get some exposure, and for us to showcase the technology, both old
and new that inspires artists to create video art. Special thanks to
First Avenue, Vitamin Water, Particle People, Resolume, Modul8, Livid
Instruments, and Aaron Bliss for hosting the event. This event is also
a celebration of the 10th Year anniversary of the EJ Midi Turntable.
Who will be playing/EJ/VJing at the EJ festival?
Justin Kent (EJ Midi Turntable Inventor) from Miami, Florida.
000000000001 (Emergency Broadcast Network (VIDEO REMIX)
Naughty Wood (MUSIC)
Aaron Bliss (MUSIC) and
EJ Nate (EJ Midi Turntable developer VIDEO)
Nancy Cheng (MUSIC) and TimeSquid (VIDEO)
Jobot (MUSIC) and VisionQuest (VIDEO)
Emmanuel and Tonio (First Avenue VJ’s)
Mathstatic (Mapping installation)
Mach Fox (Video Installation)
How has EJ/VJing changed in the last 10 years?
Technology, technology, technology.
Early forms of VJ culture can be traced back to 1919 with the color
organ by Mary Hallock-Greenewalt. The Grateful Dead were known for
their fantastic light shows that integrated space age themes and
synthesizer music. In 1962, engineer Lee Harrison created the ANIMAC
hybrid graphic animation computer which transitioned into the
SCANIMATE by the 1980s. In 1966 and 1967, Andy Warhol organized a
series of multimedia events known as The Exploding Plastic Inevitable,
featuring musical performances by The Velvet Underground and Nico, and
screenings of Warhol’s films. Andy Warhol also used the Amiga 500 to
create animations, artwork of Debbie Harry, short movies, and a
multimedia opera of actress Marilyn Monroe called “you are the one.”
In 1969, synthesized video evolved by the introduction of the PCS
VIDIUM analog XYZ sequencer and the CVI Quantizer & CVI Data Camera.
In the 1970s, bands like Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle used
film collages in their performances. Public Image Ltd was one of the
first bands in the 1980s to use a video projection system along with a
lighting system and screen that was so avant-garde that it resulted in
the New York Ritz Riot in 1981. The 1980s also saw the advent of the
VHS which early video artists used quite extensively, and one which I
still use in my video performances at First Avenue. MTV inspired a
great many artists, with their ability to showcase new videos from
upcoming artists. From 1983–85, Medusa’s in Chicago was a club that
showcased video along with performances and DJ sets. The 1980s ushered
in a series of technological advancements starting with the Fairlight
Computer Video Instrument, the Commodore and Amiga computers which
allowed video artists to broadcast and program 2D and 3D graphics, and
the Chromasope Video Synthesizer P135 that was used in discotheques
and BBC television. The 1990’s saw a culmination of all this
technology and video performance with the groundbreaking work of
Emergency Broadcast Network’s “Telecommunication Breakdown” (VHS,
1995). U2 took notice of Emergency Broadcast Network’s fusion of
advertising and music video editing and hired them for their Zoo TV
Tour. In 1998, Jean Michel Jarre released a copy of ArKaos software
with his album”Odyssey Through O2.” EJ/VJ culture has changed a lot
during the 2000 years and beyond. We have affordable and faster
laptops that can handle video processing, and the Edirol V4
four-channel video mixer that was released in 2001 is a staple of my
performances. In 2001, Justin Kent invented the EJ Midi Turntable, the
world’s first optical turntable. YouTube has helped artists to get
exposure for their videos to a worldwide audience. Along with EJ
Enterprises’ Scratch TV® software, the system allows so EJ’s to mix,
scratch, and edit video clips in a new and exciting way – in real
time, with a flick of their fingers. The sponsors of the Twin Cities
EJ Festival is a testament to the evolution of the EJ/VJ/DJ: software
developers Resolume, Modul8, and Livid Instruments (CellDNA) are all
producing incredibly powerful products that allow for real-time
How would you rate the EJ/VJ scene in Minneapolis compared to other cities?
Excellent. There are more and more events that are giving EJ/VJ
exposure such as Playatta / VisionQuest / Time Squid at Recess, Freaky
Deeky, Rastermind, Bassgasm, 000000000001 at First Avenue, Mathstatic’s live visuals and
mapping. Menergy and Dance Quest have been pioneers in the area of
video culture in the Twin Cities. I have a lot of respect for Hamil
Griffin-Cassidy and what he has accomplished at the Minneapolis
Television Network with Freaky Deeky. The scene here in Minneapolis is
still evolving, but moving in the right direction and will grow even
more with the Twin Cities EJ Festival in August 27 at First Avenue
How would one get started with their EJ career?
Get curious about video. Experiment. Find some video equipment.
Software to get you started: Max/MSP/Jitter, Resolume, Modul8,
CellDNA, ScratchTV, Grand VJ/ArKaos, VDMX, VJamm, FLxER, vvvv, Isadora
and Pure Data.
The Twin Cities EJ Festival will take place on Saturday, August 27 at 10 PM at the Record Room at First Avenue and costs $3. More info can be found here.