If you were lucky enough to experience one of their live shows, then you know: DRIFTER TV wants your soul. We met with Nils Mühlenbruch (VJ) and Remko van der Drift (DJ) in a designed-to-look-grungy online chat room and talked about all the things that make them one of Hollands most inspiring audiovisual live acts. DRIFTER TV is taking VJ-ing to a whole new level. At their high voltage shows they’re pumping out eye-popping animations, machine-gun style to a synergistic cocktail of Italo, techno and acid. But that’s not it. DRIFTER TV has a story to tell… It’s the strange tale of a friendly invasion of alien boy scouts, the Drifters, who have come to earth to help mankind. Try playing with those flash animations on drifter.tv. After a while you start to feel different, cheerful. You want to do a good turn. That must be the appeal of those Drifters. They help us tune in to our inner boy scouts. The DRIFTER TV DVD was released on our very own Submarine Channel DVD label. The guys are now on tour to promote it.
Interview: April 21, 2006
How did you guys meet?
Nils: We met because of our names.
Remko: My last name is van der Drift or DJ Drifter. I was a DJ back then in 2001, named DJ Drifter. One of my friends told me about this VJ Drifter, which turned out to be Nils. When we finally met I told him jokingly: “Hey, you have to change your name because I am DJ Drifter. If not, I will sue you!” Of course later, when I called Nils, he turned out to be a pretty nice guy.
Nils: Yeah, but we still differ about who called who.
Remko: I invited him to do a performance together. During a tour in the Czech Republic where we were both performing, we decided to officially continue as Drifter TV with a live set and a new, joint show. That’s how it all started. Kind of by accident, really.
There are more VJ acts now that, unlike the old-school VJ, present an overall audiovisual concept.
Nils: That’s right, and I encourage every possible form of expression, as long as the medium is not the message. In the Dutch scene, VJ’s are becoming more and more aware that it takes more than just some software, stolen video images and a video beamer.
Remko: We try to combine sound and image so that together they form a whole. We produce our show as an overall concept you know. And we work to coordinate the sound and image. In a way, it’s almost like being in a band. That’s what I like about our collaboration: image and sound are equally important. Or rather, they intensify each other. We work with structures of images and sounds. During the performance some moments are scripted. But there is a lot of improvisation going on as well. We communicate a lot when we’re doing a live show. We’re basically trying to tell a story on the dancefloor and trying to create a dramatic arc. I think that’s what’s innovative about Drifter TV.
Nils: Creating a dramatic arc is very complicated and we still haven’t fully mastered that part. To create the right dynamics between image and sound is something you need to thoroughly prepare in advance, and execute it well during a live show. We have to entertain a crowd for about an hour, which means you have to dose sound and image. That’s why hardrock bands play ballads, to step back now and then.
Remko: Except that we don’t do ballads.
What will be the future for audiovisual acts? Do you think more acts will be focusing on the narrative aspect?
Nils: Because of MTV a certain style developed which can be characterised as a continuous, non-hierarchical flow of images. Back when MTV started, that was groundbreaking and very necessary. It said something about the way we consumed images. Now people are used to this ‘endless flow of images’ as a stylistic device. But as far as VJ culture goes, we’re still experiencing the aftermath of this.
You recently released a DVD. Will you be exploring more media in the future? Nils: I’m working on mobile graphics and we’re currently discussing doing a project that involves 3D projections. Up until now our visuals have been kind of flat. Ever the more reason to explore the exciting world of 3D.
Remko: We also made a few ringtones for the Ringtone Society and I am researching the world of Dolby Surround. We’ve used Dolby Surround on the DVD and I’m looking into it now so, in the future, I will produce the sound live on stage. The 5.1 Dolby Surround technology is used a lot in movies nowadays. It’s the 3D of sound, sort of.
Nils: And I’m considering picking up drumming again.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current tour?
Nils: We’re using a much bigger screen to create a much more cinematic experience.
Remko: We’re using a lot of new material. Sometimes we’ll be mixing the sounds of the visuals with the music. And I’m working on a new sequence that will introduce a new character.
Tell us more about this new character!
Nils: It will be a sort of cosmic Übermother.
Are you working with a model?
Nils: Yes, it’s all traditional handwork. Although made with modern means.
How will the story of the Drifters continue?
Nils: I don’t want to give away too much, but The Drifters are drifting off into the fringe. But who knows, maybe the saviors will be saved!!