written by Jennifer Warner
"We treat video as an instrument."
Thanks in part to a missed plane, and that philosophy, along with
Sandra Collins brave pioneering spirit and DJ Skills, and Vello
Virkhaus' video wizardry, have brought forth Interference. Interference
is the name of their collaboration, and you'll soon see (after reading
this interview) that it is of the constructive type, a marriage
of sight and sound!
First off, how did you two meet?
Vello Virkhaus: We
met each other on an airline, coming home from winter music conference
more than 3 years ago through a mutual friend. We had a show and
tell on the flight, Sandra burned music for me, and I showed her
a bunch of pictures of current /past projects. That was the first
spark, that was to lead down the road to Sandra inquiring to book
me to perform more than a year later at Avalon/Hollywood.
Sandra Collins: it was an ironic situation really.
WMC 2 LAX- 2004 I was supposed to leave WMC via Miami International.
I didn't want to fly back alone so I decided to switch my routing
to fly with an old friend/stylist Atousa leaving via Fort Lauderdale
instead. She was quite happy to see Vello on our flight and finally
introduce us. She had been trying to get us to work together for
years. Show and tell, I think it was the Korn video content he showed
me. I decided to keep my visual show ideas to myself after that.
2005 I saw him at Ultra and w/out really thinking about it, asked
him if he'd be interested in collaborating. He mentioned doing some
work in Orlando after Miami and I was supposed to leave early the
next morning from a local friends house so we decided to meet up
before leaving Miami to discuss some of the details. Turns out I
missed my flight, and took the next available. I got up to the boarding
door and I hear someone calling my name. Vello's work in Orlando
was canceled & my flights were switched around—dejavu
What were the conversations like that started the two of you
working on this project together?
VV: After our first meeting, it was over a year until we
spoke again. From what I can remember, our first conversation was
an inquiry from Sandra, to my old office manager about booking me
to play at a show with her. We began by exploring tracks she was
interested in playing, and creating visual pieces to these tracks.
I think we made over 12 DVD's for the first show we played together,
got Pioneer to sponsor us with the DVJ-X1's. The conversations we
had were full of excitement and creative possibilities. We had to
reign ourselves in, as ideas versus time were far to grandiose and
costly to produce for our first adventure into audio visual performance
SC: I would hear Vello mention his troubles with
promoters not wanting to pay much for visual art or bill the VJ(s)
at parties saying "Vj's don't sell tickets” I told Vello
that I wanted to do a tour with him with proper billing, pay, screen
set up and content of course. Hoping it would set a new standard
and give promoters something to idea off of, so to speak. As a female
dj I've come to learn that ideas come from ideas and someone will
have to be the brave one to carry those ideas through publicly.
If there isn't a set standard or enough verbal demand for something,
the old methods kind of just go without saying.
What inspired you to start working with video performances?
SC: For many years, I have had the idea of adding
more to my show. I'm famous for having all sorts of amazing,
crazy ideas pertaining to the visual aspect of a performance. Every
year I'd go to Ultra, watch Rabbit in the Moon, and get inspired.
Of course, I had no idea who was creating the visual art, I just
knew that I loved it and that one day, my show would be more than
it was. It took a while for me to bring my part to the table but
I knew it was way overdue. After Pioneer's release of the
DVJ I felt that I could contribute to this type of show by playing
the DVD's with a VJ opposed to an impersonal collaboration
with the VJ standing in a corner somewhere.
What is Interference?
VV: Interference is the name we have given to our A/V collaboration.
It was coined interference to represent the rebellious nature of
what we are doing, and also the tensions between DJ and VJ, club
owners, etc. The very nature of our collaboration interferes with
normal operations and perceptions of what a DJ experience is at
SC: nice one Vello! I like that answer. Definition
of Interference <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interference>
What is the difference to what you are doing on stage to just
say running a pre-recorded video loop behind a DJ?
VV: The primary difference is that we have a show
that is a true collaboration between visual artist and audio artist.
DJ & VJ together if you will, not press play button and DJ mix.
There is no interaction at all in that scenario, other than by chance.
Our show is not only different every time we play sonically and
visually, but is completely interactive and mixed live to the music.
We treat video as an instrument, and play clips musically using
MIDI Keyboards also audio responsive visual software and synthesizers.
Sandra spins on DVJ-1000 pioneer DVD turntables, and feeds me a
layer of visual elements that I add on top of, and remix live as
What are some of the challenges of putting on a show like this,
rather than just showing up with your bag of music?
VV: One of the biggest challenges we face is taking
large amounts of equipment with us, between 9-12 pieces of luggage
on the airlines. We abandoned doing air cargo due to unreliability
and tight schedules in between dates. The extra cargo really makes
transportation and flying in general more expensive and time consuming.
Another challenge for us setting up a custom A/V DJ/VJ booth everywhere
we go. No place we have been in the US, Mexico, or South America
has anything close to what we need booth wise to do our show. We
wire it all up, DVJ's, DJ mixer and all the visual equipment. Do
a full sound check, reposition audio monitors, sometimes install
custom screens and plasma monitors as well. This means that instead
of just walking away when the set is done with a disc wallet of
CD's, we are wrapping tons of cords and loading out for an hour
or two after lights are on. Doing something new is always challenging,
and requires patience, a great deal of time and monetary investment.
All of which we do all the time.
Have you created any tracks specifically for use in this show?
VV: Yes. We have several audio video pieces that
we use as transitions, and opening/closing moments in the set that
are original musical scores, and visual works.
Speaking of tracks... can we look forward to any new music
from you Sandra anytime soon?
SC: Hehe, I have a few remixes floating around
and have about 15 unfinished solo works in my laptop. To answer
the question, Yes.
This is for Sandra for sure (but Vello if it applies to you
too please feel free to answer!!!): You have a reputation for having
fun like a rock star, but you've managed not to burn out or explode....
What's your secret?
SC: My secret? Hm.. Ok, as long as you promise
not to tell anyone. I don't have that much fun. But Vello
has all the fun ;-)
Where are each of you living now (city & type of place
VV: We have a home in Sherman Oaks/ Los Angeles,
CA. it's a 1950's house in a super quiet hidden neighborhood.
Why'd you choose there?
VV: After looking at numerous places, and having
a spell of first time homebuyer's bad luck on the first place
we chose, we found this house. The neighborhood was really the main
selling point, along with the amazing swimming pool and spacious
yard. It is very quite here, and there is a real sense of community
in the neighborhood. The house has given us both a place to grow
into, develop, garden, paint, and call our own. We love it.
SC: We had been living in my house in the hills
while looking for a place to buy. The first place we found almost
ended us up in a court battle. Vello found this place while I was
renting a house in Palm Springs to work on my 2nd Perfecto Presents
album. It was so cute, he made a walk through video for me and sent
it via email. I liked it so I agreed to come back to LA for a day
so we could finalize our decision.
If you were to die and come back as something other than a
human, what would you be?
VV: I would come back as a whale. They are graceful
beings, with very intelligent, uncharted mental abilities. Whales
also sing lovely songs to each other, which we humans believe it
to be their language.They may just be singing as well!
SC: I think they call those zombies, no? I would hope to
be a bird zombie at least …
Are you two dating each other? Or anyone else right now?
Yes, we are a marriage of sight and sound.
Where can people find out where you are performing next?
And for past show information/reviews/photos:
Vsquared Labs vsquaredlabs.com
Anything else you'd like to say to your Raves.com/DJfix.com
Thank you for watching =)