Seeds of an Idea
On April 2 2011 the band LCD Soundsystem performed what at the time was to be their final show at Madison Square Gardens in New York. If you were into indie music it was a big deal. If you had spent a lot of the previous decade dancing to indie-dance at house parties it was a very big deal. Due to the cost of a trip to NYC and the fact I don’t love concerts with huge crowds I didn’t go. Still the sold out show was to be live streamed.
At Moe Bar (now called The Runaway) they were going to project it onto the back wall of the bar. I rounded up a bunch of friends and we went to check it out. It was an incredible night! We danced like crazy. The bar patrons looking for a chill Saturday afternoon must’ve thought we were nuts. 2011 internet infrastructure isn’t what it is today and the video kept buffering, but that only make it better. Every time the stream resumed we burst back into frantic dance moves like a reverse musical chairs. In the end we were all hot and sweaty like we we were pouring out of a nightclub at 2am, but. it was still daylight in Seattle.
I was struck by how engaging this essentially “vistual concert” was. My understanding was than human behavior put a huge value on live in-person music even in cases where the music was almost impossible to truly create live like an EDM music producer. Still it could be possible to have an experience that exists between a basic DJ performance and a live band performance.
I got engaged in January 2014. My wife and I are from Wisconsin and Ireland respectfully and still live in those places. In the US it is more typical to hire a DJ and in Ireland it’s expected that you hire a wedding band followed by a DJ that plays until 2am. We settled on having our ceremony in Madison, Wisconsin and the reception a week later in Listowel, Ireland during August 2015.
I got to say I dislike wedding bands. For me the joy of listening to wedding standards is the detail, like the elaborate arrangements on a Stevie Wonder song, the specific instrumentation on a Daft Punk song or of course Whitney Houston’s voice. Even the best wedding band can’t come remotely close to the quality of the originals.
For me the effect is like the difference between a microwave meal and the same meal from a good restaurant. Then a wedding DJ can just be underwhelming, even if the mix is great it can just be some dude in a fedora, and it’s hard for me to get excited about that.
The wedding reception
So I thought there had to be a way to compromise. My idea was to create and audio visual experience, that had the best versions of the songs that would get people dancing but also an added visual element that would keep guests engaged and increase the emotional impact.
Since I was doing this from another country I hired a local DJ that offered video DJ services. He could DJ our wedding with just music videos, but I wanted more. I created a 6 hour movie that included music videos, live performances, several themed photo montages, home videos, visual instructions for dance moments, sports highlights, documentary footage.
The vendor we hired just setup the gear and hit play. Easy money! The video played from 8pm until 2am on our wedding night. The money we saved by not hiring a band we used to have an open bar. That is not a thing that happens at most Irish weddings. I suspect there were a few Irish guests who would have like a band but overall I think it was the best dance-floor experience we could have pulled off. It felt unique, personal and very fun.
Beginning Flux VJ
After that I started doing similar video DJing at private parties. Those went over really well. The difficulty was the technical hurdles. Playing the video content on TVs in large spaces wasn’t very impressive. Even the largest TVs don’t feel more than being at a sports bar. LED panels are prohibitively expensive for standard events plus take a long time to set up.
Standard projection seemed like the best option. Still having a projector in the middle of the dance floor or attaching to the roof wasn’t practical. So I developed a rear projection system that would fit into a standard venue but still be something an individual could setup in 1-2 hours.
Flux VJ was born.
I invested in an excellent sound system as I knew it was important to always sound great. Got my first projector & screen setup functioning. I put together a medium collection of music videos and started booking events.
As the years went by I VJed in a host of environments and added more equipment to adapt to these spaces, TVs for bright daytime events, smaller projection screens for more compact spaces etc., I added a wifi hotspot so I could always cater to requests.
I spent an insane number of hours growing my music video collection. I poured over charts going back to the 1940s. Explored other cultures music. I even creating a lot of my own videos for older hits. As I did more and more weddings I invested in great handheld and lavalier wireless microphones, as those special moments need to sound perfect.
I’m proud of what Flux VJ is today but there is always ways to develop my experience more. As new technology become more affordable and compact I can add it in. I’m also working to make people aware of how fantastic their event can be if they hire me. Please shoot me a message. Hope to see you at a future Flux VJ experience.