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DJ Blondie K and subOctave

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Known for their monthly indie music video parties Fringe, DJs Blondie K and subOctave are serious music lovers. A rare experiment gone right, Fringe is dance party where people can dance alongside visuals of their favorite bands, creating an experience unlike any other. Catch them at their next installment on December 30th at Madrone.

SF Station (SFS): How long have you guys been putting on Fringe? How did it begin?

DJ Blondie K (BK): The first Fringe was in July of this year and it's been monthly ever since then. DJ subOctave and I were both looking for a place to play our favorite music — new dance music with an indie rock edge — and we were lucky to partner up with Madrone Art Bar when the new owner Mike Krouse was looking to try out something different for the venue. It's an ideal partnership. With Mike being a creative artist himself, it pairs well with the experience we are trying to create with the videos.

SFS: Where did you guys come up with this video concept?

BK: DJ subOctave pulled me into the video DJ idea. At first, I was really just interested in the audio and playing music, but as soon as I started working with the visuals I was hooked.

SO: I am a serious computer geek at my day job. It was becoming very clear to me that the latest notebook computers had enough horsepower to do real-time mixing of video. Once DJ Blondie K and I started experimenting, we got hooked because we could see that using video actually enhanced the communication between the DJ and the audience.

SFS: What are some of the benefits of being a video DJ?

BK: For the same reasons I loved MTV back in the day when they played music videos, the visuals bring a whole other element to the music. Now, more so then ever, music videos are innovative, cutting edge and visually stunning. When we find a new song we love we're happy, when we find a new song we love that also has an amazing video, we're ecstatic.

SO: The audience gets more out of the evening. If they hear a new song the visuals can give them more information about the artist. If they hear a favorite song - they might never have seen the video. Sometimes the imagery will make them pay attention to a song they would not have.

Also, with the advent of YouTube music video has entered a new age. Videos do not have to be official music-label marketing vehicles anymore. It is almost like instead of searching through racks of vinyl at a record store, we have the entire Internet to shop for interesting visual and audio material.

SFS: Do you ever worry that people stop dancing and watch the video or are they generally pretty good about that?

BK: Actually, I like when people watch the videos because we do a lot of visual special effects that sync up to the music we are playing. I think the videos are great entertainment for both the people dancing and those who want to hang out at the back of the bar lounging on the couches. We have a lot of creative transitional effects that go by quickly when we are fading songs.

SO: You hit upon the biggest controversy with what we do. Before we started Fringe, we spent many hours laboring over the issue. Music videos by definition add something to the music — they can be funny, or have jaw-dropping effects, or be a glorified light show. Whatever the video's purpose, I think in the end the result is we give our audience another way to engage with the music and the artists that we play. In practice, once we starting doing it, I think we discovered that nightclubs have always been about sensory stimulation. Video is a medium that effectively stimulates your eyes and brain, so it works. At Fringe our audiences love to dance and I haven't seen too many collisions on the dance floor.

SFS: Who are some of your favorite artists to play?

BK: I definitely like to represent the ladies!

SO: It is a great time for music. I think that Internet distribution, the decline of the big labels, and cheap recording technology have all combined to have an interesting impact on the music industry. Smaller bands can do their own thing and thrive and I think the indie bands we play are a product of that. Specifically, I like bands like LCD Soundsystem, Chromeo, and Friendly Fires.

SFS: Any crazy stories to share in the DJ life?

BK: We both agree, our craziest night to date was definitely Halloween. We were supposed to play from 9pm-2am but because the place was so packed all night we winded up playing from 8pm-3am.

People really got in the spirit of the night and came up with amazing costumes. At the end of the night, after we played what we thought was our last song, the crowd began chanting "one more song, one more song!." Mike kindly let us oblige the crowd and play another last song. After 7 straight hours of DJing and a couple more hours of setting up, we were both pretty wiped but also thrilled that night was such a success.