One of the great things about developing creative visual tools, is that sometimes you see things done with them that surpass your wildest expectations. One of those revelations was seeing that AV phenomenon Nick Bertke, better known as Pogo, uses Resolume Avenue as his live VJ tool. After listening and dreaming away to his tracks on many a long journey, it was about time to ask the man some questions!
-So, even after choosing a well known term as your artist name, you're the fourth hit on Google. How does it feel being more popular than both the stick and the dance?
Dunno, it just feels like a lot of people listen to my music. I invest emotions into my work, and people receive them as though opening a parcel. It's great being able to emotionally communicate with so many people, but sometimes, the hype and recognition tends to go to my head. I think it's a balance between taking pride in your work and not leaning on it to validate your existence and worth as a human being.
Your style of music is very unique. Have you been always been doing this cut-up, vocal syllable style, or did the pennies fall into place later on?
When I was around twelve, I'd punch sequences into a Playstation game called Music 2000. I had always longed for the freedom to make music on my own. The music I made in those days was very much Happy House, kind of like Todd Edwards and DJ Tonka. When I hit thirteen/fourteen, I became fascinated with piecing sounds together like a jigsaw puzzle. I've always heard small sounds, chords and vocal slithers in movies that stand out to me, so I thought "Hey, if I love all of these sounds individually, why not put them together?" I guess it's where any sample artist begins. Where my work differs is that I concentrate largely on finding notes in the spoken voice and piecing them together without any intention of forming sentences or making sense.
At the moment you get millions of views online, do projects for 'big business', but also show your work at the Guggenheim, and you're about to go on a USA tour. How did your career take off like this? Is one good clip on youtube and a heap of talent all it takes, or did you have to do lots of promotion and social networking?
'Alice' took off entirely on its own. All I did was upload it to my YouTube channel, and it received a good 2 million views within 6 months. I then hooked up with Bryant Randall, a DJ at the time who expressed an interest in my work and wanted to help me make some business out of it. I've never been good with business, money or the law, so I figured it was worth a try. Now, Bryant has helped me find work with Disney, Pixar and Showtime, and I'm at a point now where my music is selling online well enough for me to continue supporting my passion.
There's a cool video on your blog, showing how you work in FLStudio (link). Can you explain a bit about your process for creating the video part of your work? Any particular hardware or software tricks involved?
No hardware. No software tricks. I simply capture the clips from the film I'm remixing, and edit them over the track I've made. This means going back to the vocals and chords in the film to capture the corresponding video - a process that sometimes requires word searches in the script of the film online. I have always edited my videos in Sony Vegas, but I'm choosing to migrate over to Final Cut Pro because I prefer the features and performance.
Is a Pogo live show a DJ mix of all your hits, or do you also 'remix the remixes'? What are the crowd's reactions like?
I have every layer of every track on a Jazzmutant Lemur in front of me, and it's my goal of the evening to mix and splice them together to form a megamix of my tracks. The crowd, at least in the USA, can never seem to get enough of it.
Can you explain a bit about your live setup? What gear do you bring on stage? How are you connected?
On my MacBook Pro, I’m running Ableton Live and Resolume. Processing my audio is a Native Instruments Audio Kontrol 1. I’m using a Jazzmutant Lemur to control my Ableton set, which is kind of like an iPad, just bigger and better suited for live performance. In place of my Roland PCR-300, I’m trialing an iPad Wi-Fi, which displays the same Ableton set but through the touchAble iPad app. This is so I can adjust a mixer with my left hand, and trigger clips with my right on the Lemur. I’m also busy experimenting with Korg iElectribe, an amazing iPad app that lets you build drum loops and percussion sequences live for immediate mixing. I simply connect the iPad headphone jack to an input on the Audio Kontrol, route that through a channel in Ableton, and I’m ready to roll.
How did you decide on using Resolume for the video part of your shows?
VJZoo in Perth WA first introduced me to Resolume. At the time, I wanted to essentially edit videos live. It was great fun and Resolume proved to be ideal for the job.
Which features of Resolume do you use the most? How do you use Resolume in general?
I have since focused more on my music than my videos in my live shows. As I developed my system for triggering sections and layers of my tracks in real time, I needed an application that would automatically take care of the video side of things. Splicing my videos and triggering them in Resolume via MIDI in Ableton is so far the best solution I've come up with.
Do you have any tips and tricks for people developing their own live av-sets? Any gotchas or things that took you ages to get right?
I think 800x600 Photo-JPEG .MOV is the fastest, most accessible format to use in Resolume. It's quite large in file size, but it performs like a dream and the quality is great.
Any upcoming projects, shows, collaborations or world travel plans that you are particularly excited about?
In the same way I remixed my mother in her garden, I'm heading to Tibet this year to remix the sights and sounds of its culture. It's going to be tremendous fun and I'm very grateful to everyone who has helped us fund the project on Kickstarter.
Check out more of Pogo's work at http://www.pogomix.net/ or at his Youtube Channel.