The Visual Artistry of Alan Aaron – Underground Artists | Unconventional Spaces
DJ – Producer – Photo/Videographer – Art Director: French born creative Alan Aaron wears these and a fair few other hats too. Taking an approach of merging new underground (and hitherto undiscovered) DJ talent and combining a freestyle audio experience with equally freestyle and interactive digital visual elements, Alan’s art project E-KLOZIN’ is trailblazing a unique entertainment experience for his audience. We sat him down to find out more…
Hi Alan. Firstly, please tell us more about your (industry/creative) background and how you came to set up E-KLOZIN’?
Hi Paul, Thank you for the invitation; I am very honoured.
To introduce myself in a few words, I am the Art Director of E-KLOZIN’ and also DJ, Producer, Photographer, free skier and recently videographer, and I am part of Point Breakers crew as a DJ. I grew up in the south of France, in a village called Le Rove; I was passionate about music and my interest in DJing started during my high school period and became bigger during university years. After my 5 years of scientific studies in Marseille, in 2006, I moved to Paris to work as a Quality Engineer.
In 2009, I created E-KLOZIN’ a brand and a collective oriented Electronic Music, Arts & Extreme Sports; it was the materialisation of common passions shared with several close friends. Our aims were to share our passions and organise events in a surprising, creative and professional way. Each event is designed as an experience were we mix our three universes (Electronic Music, Arts & Extreme Sports) when the configuration permits.
Our events philosophy in few essential points:
- RESPECT: Respect of people, staff members, artists and venues…Good Vibes Only!
- EXCHANGE: Share experience, tips and stages with other collectives
- CREATIVITY: Innovate and try to propose something new or different
- SUPPORT: Give a chance to beginner artists to express their talents
Since the beginning, we organised events in unconventional spots where we reveal uprising talents. (Disused train station, Skatepark, loft, photo studio, art gallery, warehouse, ski slopes, parks, industrial spots, restaurant, Open Air, Rooftop, etc…).
In 2019, with the E-KLOZIN’ crew we created a new project named S P O T L I G H T. Always in the same philosophy of revealing underground talents in unusual spots, our audio-visual project is focused on two performers :
- One visual artist/crew (Video mapping, scenography, painter, street artist)
- One musical artist/crew ( DJ set or Live)
Our first episode is available on our YouTube channel EKLOZIN and also on the S P O T L I G H T page; the talents spotlighted were Yuki a promising Japanese Techno DJ/Producer and Etienne a video mapping designer from HeavyM Team. Today we are 20 members in several countries (France, Canada and Thailand).
We are also invited by other collectives to play on events or club with international DJs, mainly in Paris. We already played at/for : Rex Club, Cabaret Sauvage, La Station Gare des Mines, Petit Bain, Batofar, Soukmachines, Mavellous Island Festival 2013, OuiShare Love Festival 2013, Winter X-Games Europe 2010 to 2013, Soukmachines Karnasouk, Alterpaname.
We already played with : Kenny Larkin, Pfirter, Lucy, Norman Nodge, Anja Schneider, Roman Poncet, Smash TV, Martin Landsky, Marcus Meinhardt, Catz & Dogz, Donato Dozzy, S3A, Simon Baker, Terence Fixmer, Hobo, Cézaire, FKJ, La Mamies, Lamache, Klaudia Gawlas, Citizen Kain, Anja Schneider, Worakls, etc
Why the visual arts, music and video? Has a love for these mediums been with you from a small boy?
Music was my first love, because of different aspects: the energy and the power to gather people. Visual arts came after during my years at university. In 2001, I bought my first personal computer and one of my best (geek) friends installed Photoshop. I began to design wallpapers and years after came my passion for photography; a medium that brings me naturally into video montage recently.
Are your video visuals synched and pre-prepared before the DJ show or do you respond live and adapt through the flow of the DJ set to interpret?
In E-KLOZIN’ events, we do not pre-prepare the DJ show, it is a live performance done by the visual artists invited. We prefer to keep a kind of unpredictable factor, which gives to the show a uniqueness value. However, maybe in a near future I would like to implement SoundSwitch to our Denon DJ Prime set up in order to enhance our light show in specific configuration, like a video clip.
Do you use video software, Resolume, in tandem with the Prime Series StagelinQ protocol or another solution?
For the moment, I do not use Resolume due to the configuration of our events. As I explained earlier, we invite visual artists and they come with their own mapping/video software. To be honest Resolume is a beast with so many features, but it is too technical for me; if one day I “dive” into video mapping, I will choose HeavyM Software because it is very intuitive, designed for live performance with built-in visuals samples and compatible with all video projectors. Another important point, a bridge can be done between Resolume and HeavyM thanks to software like Spout (Windows) or Syphon (MacOs); so it is possible to use the Prime series StagelinQ protocol indirectly.
How do you choose the DJ’s you prefer to work with on your projects?
As an art director, you have to be open-minded and informed on what is going on in your “neighbourhood”. One of our events goals is to reveal unknown artists who have a musical and/or technical singularity. In other words, I invite artists who generate a big emotional impact when they perform. My process of selection is simple:
- Step 1: I listen Soundcloud profiles of DJs that I can find in local Parisian events.
- Step 2: “ Open Mix Session” of E-KLOZIN’ events
We include an Open Mix Session in 95% of our events. Each time, there are around ten candidates; this allows me to discover artists that I would never have met, because they do not belong to my circle of friends or my entourage.
- Step 3: I analyse the recommendations from other friends (DJs / Art Director / Party organizers)
As you noticed, sometimes it can be time-consuming, however it is always a great satisfaction when you discover “a rough diamond “. I saw these high potentials several times in the past with DJs and Producers. To name a few, hereafter a non-exhaustive list of artists with whom we collaborated in their beginnings: Hemka, Worakls, Lowris, Lamache, E-Talking, S3A, La Mamie’s, Lemoan, Cincity, Jay Bliss, Yuki.
Today, they are booked in big clubs or festival; we are so proud of them.
Are your events sometimes private with a few guests/attendees or do you target larger public audiences? Also, is there a degree of audience participation or interaction with ‘the Show’ happening at all?
Our events are nomads and mainly human-sized (100 to 300 people), each time, we move into a new unexpected place to surprise our audience and artists that we invite. Most of our events are public with a limited capacity and free access for kids (only for diurnal session). There is a fixed number of tickets/invitations for safety and comfort reasons; so, “First come, first served”! With our project S P O T L I G H T the number of private events could increase a little bit because several places that we are prospecting cannot receive people for safety reasons.
What was it about Denon DJ’s Prime Series (technology, features) that attracted you for inclusion in your Artist Video series?
The decision, to use a Denon DJ prime series rider in our project S P O T L I G H T and also in all E-KLOZIN’ events, had been taken in 2018; because of my personal experience as a DJ and event organiser. Firstly, as a DJ when I perform in club, I play with 3 or 4 tracks at the same time; when I was invited by another local collective to play in a bar or secret place, I had to face several difficulties to ask and/or obtain 4 CDJ players because of the renting/buying price; something that I understand totally; so I was obliged to play with 2 decks, an option that I don’t like because my creativity is limited.
the rider just blew my mind up
So, for me the best solution was to use a laptop with a 4 decks controller (Denon MC6000); but as you know, bring your personal laptop in underground parties can be risky (Beer drop, humidity, etc). As an event organiser, of course, there is the price point, but sometimes the architecture of the venue cannot permit to install a three-meter long table with 4 players, 1 mixer and 2 turntables. Finally, because of these two points, sometimes it was frustrating to have only two players. In 2018, I discovered the Prime Series in a Parisian music shop named Woodbrass, the rider just blew my mind up; the list of features is quite long, so I quote the main ones that convinced me:
- Dual layer function: not new for Denon DJ but so useful for my way of DJing (3 or 4 tracks DJ set)
- 3 USB ports and “emergency track”: Very convenient when you have many DJs on your line up and one of them accidentally removes a USB drive, the full track continues to play with loops and cues.
- Large and bright multi-touch screen: As responsive as my smartphone and the user interface is well thought.
- Intuitive Loop Management: Sure and easy way to control and save your Loops.
- Color correspondence between deck and cue button on the mixer X1800
- New sound FX can be added on the mixer with updates
- Mixer main output limiter can be adjusted: Useful if you do not want to damage your speakers
- Player set up preferences, cue points and loops can be saved on the USB Key
- Rekordbox compatibility
- Customisable logo on the jog wheel
To sum up, it permits more creativity, it is very intuitive and can evolve with updates; all this technology at an affordable price comparing to the concurrence; it is honest. For the entire E-KLOZIN’ crew, it was difficult to go back to CDJ’s, so this is the reason why we would like to put a Prime Series rider on all our events or video clip projects. As I often say, DJ and production gear is like photography – you choose the device that fits with your way of use, your possibility of evolving and of course your budget. It is what we have done with no regret. All the DJs we invited in 2019 have played on the Prime Series Rider (SC5000 & X1800). We had good feedback and improvement comments that have been mostly implemented in the new flagship SC6000/SC6000M/X1850. Good job Denon DJ!
You have a series of upcoming events between June and September 2020 – please tell us more about what will be happening, and where?
Several venues are still in negotiation and we are waiting for validation from different city halls for public parks, however, we can reveal the fact that it will be mainly an Open Air configuration; stay tuned on our pages E-KLOZIN’ and S P O T L I G H T..
What vision do you have for expanding the boundaries between what is currently possible with combining electronic music and visuals, ie: the future of E-KLOZIN’s direction (if not too confidential)?
From a general point of view, the combination between the music and visuals will be more and more linked. There were precursors like Etienne De Crecy with “ Square Cube “ in 2007, Plastikman (a.k.a Ritchie Hawtin) in 2010 with his “Live 1.5” , or more recently Eric Prydz with “Holosphere”. Of course, we already have the beat synchronisation, however maybe in the near future the experience could be more interactive with the public in big live shows. Many (expensive) technologies already exist. I am curious to see how the industry will evolve and how the manufacturers will innovate.
Concerning E-KLOZIN’ future, we keep our state of mind concerning event organisation (Respect, Exchange, Creativity, Support ), we continue to produce our S P O T L I G H T video series and maybe one day create a music label.
Thank you very much Paul for this interview; it was a great pleasure to exchange with you.
One last word to say THANK YOU to all the people who support us, all our event partners (Algam Webstore, La Boite Noire du Musicien, Denon DJ France, Trax Magazine, Heeboo, Dure Vie, PWFM, Kraze, Bendelight events, ItinéraireBis), all my crew members, family and friends, and the Denon DJ Team !