Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Vj Interview: SATI (France)

Here is interview number 2, this time the questions were answered by Jesse Lucas, an English audio-visual artist residing in France, where is very active in the national VJ scene and is responsible for Vj France, an online community with over 3.000 users dedicated to the art of video performance.

Lucas and musician Erwan Raguenes, perform as Sati, an audio-visual act that looks and sounds fantastic, and although I have yet to see them live myself, I can tell from their videos that there is a lot of work behind this project that leads to a really strong connection between the visuals and music, creates very unique moments for the audience, on the video below, you can see some of the different styles you will find, during a Sati performance.

[ Tell me a little about yourself and your background ]
Well I'm a self taught artist. I started out playing music (guitar). My mom used to show me the basic chords and then I taught myself the rest :)
I soon discovered that I was most interested in the writing process of music. So I quickly stopped learning other peoples songs and wrote my own. I've always been very open minded and curious so I tried various instruments : percussion, piano, mandolin etc... The other think I've always loved about music is the performance aspect. So that also led me to other performance arts, I tried juggling and worked with dancers for instance. Last but not least is improvisation, one of the most magical aspects of music, because you can share it with other people and create in an instant.
So you might say were far from VJing, but actually not so.

[ How did you get into Vjing? ]
After most of my life in France I went back to my home country, england, for university. I found that english courses were more open minded and multidisciplinary. So I applied for a BSC in Entertainment technology. It was one of them new "multimedia" courses. We learned nothing and everything at the same time ! Flash, 3D, sound recording, webdesign, video editing, but we got to hang out with interesting people who had lots to share.
This multimedia feel inspired me to project some generative code at a club night we'd organized as part of the course. And thats how it all started, I then choose to use video instead of code and went filming with the cameras we had access to at university. This artform combined all aspects I loved and still love about music : creation, performance and improvisation.

[ What's the best and worst thing of being a video performer? ]
Well the worst thing is that when I started I was shit at it ! Let me explain, I play music so I knew how to perform and mix in rhythm. But most of my videos were really bad and my sense of composition and color was inexistent. Vjing gives you access to all aspects of visual art at the touch of a finger. You can change everything in a second : color, speed, style, composition. And when you don't know what your doing thats really bad news ! But it also the best aspect, you can try virtually anything and learn from your errors. And once you master (if ever) all those aspects it becomes a great pleasure. Well actually I'm still not there but I get loads of pleasure nevertheless !

[ How would you describe you ideal gig? ]
Nice people, in the crowd, organizing the gig, other artists. You can have the worst journey and gig setup if the people around you are nice it will always stay in your mind has a good gig. And you'll feel nice too and that will in turn be given to the crowd. It goes back and forth.

[ Where do you think video performance is heading? ]
Everywhere ! Today I was thinking to myself, what do we remember about the music of the 90's ? Maybe the advent of electronic music being everywhere in all styles. And that led me back to today, I think today music as become audiovisual nearly everywhere, I mean as a performance art. But sadly many people are doing boring stuff with it. Thankfully they are many talented people experimenting. And I bet that in the years to come proper bands will appears (and do already) out of these experiments to touch a greater audience.

I would also add that video work is coming out of the screen now. As do motion graphics, new artists are bringing the pixels out of the screens and I love that aspect especially in a performance setup.

[ Can you describe the concept behind Sati? ]
The idea is to create a rich audiovisual performance and to tie as many threads as possible between the sound and vision. Some might be directly linking a sound to an image and others will be on a more metaphoric level. This enables us to play with this very interesting moment in the brain were SOUND + IMAGE = SOMETHING ELSE. Our brain makes a new thing out of the combination of sound and image. And this feeling is especially strong in a performance event. And not so much on a DVD or cinema. I think it has got to do with the live nature of the audiovisual process. I compare this to watching a dance DVD and seeing dance on stage, the effect is very different. Your body can tell that the dance is "real". Our aim is to play with this moment and take the audience on a ride. This ride can be experimental and ambient but it is also often dancy and fun. Anyhow it is always surprising.

[ How long have you guys been performing together? ]
SATI as been around only for a year and a half and every gig as been very different from the one before. We've been looking for our style, and our love for many different musics hasn't helped. But were getting there also because Erwan and I have been playing music together for the last 3 or 4 years. It all started as a great music meeting around piano guitar or even percussion before turning to a more electronic approach. We use to be housemates and every night we'd play music together. Its this common love for music making and improvisations together which is at the heart of SATI

[ Name five people or things that inspire you or your work ]
1- The sea, especially the breton coast on the west part of France, its our energy source !
2- YroYto, we've only met recently but he's a great guy and I love is work and energy.
3- The United Visual Artists for their pixels out of the screen as I said before
4- Modselektor and Tunng to give you an idea of were we stand as a band :)
5- My girlfriend, for her love and trust in this not so simple artist life !

[ What advise would you give to those who want to get started doing live video? ]
If your good with music observe visual art, learn about composition color, check out other peoples stuff and try and decide WHY you like it. This will enable you to chose what and where. KEEP IT SIMPLE and give yourself limitations : only one color, only one movement etc...

If your good with visual arts learn an instrument and listen to loads of music. Try and understand how it is constructed, how often do the beaks come, learn to count intuitively the bars. Teach yourself rhythm. All this will help you sync your visuals to the music.

If you know neither, follow both advices and good luck.

[ Name 3 things that a video performer should never forget to bring to a gig. ]
1- That whatever adapter made ONLY by a silly company wanting to be original (whatever that adapter and company are, so many wanna be original)
2- Good sleep, so you don't fall over your laptop half way through
3- And he should leave your ego at home, that never helps in a performance (and too many seem to think it might)


To learn more about Sati, please visit their website.
You can also find them on Flickr and Vimeo

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