Interview with Carrie Gates about Rave Culture and VJing in Saskatchewan

Interview in “VJ Carrie Gates remixes rave culture at Sight & Sound Festival”

Lucinda Catchlove interviewed me this May for, a music review magazine out of Montréal. when Jon Vaughn and I performed at the Sight & Sound Festival organized by Eastern Bloc.

Read the interview!


VJ Carrie Gates remixes rave culture at Sight & Sound Festival

PAR: Lucinda Catchlove

Publié le 24 Mai 2012 à 10h47

Cindy Wonderful video still by VJ Carrie Gates

Cindy Wonderful video still by VJ Carrie Gates

Multitasking, globetrotting, Saskatoon-based video artist and VJ Carrie Gates explores the outer and inner limits of performance and experience with her quirky projects that include A/V performances, cosplay (short for “costume play”) and even “brainwave-controlled audiovisual software pieces.” NIGHTLIFE.CA pinned down the busy lady to have a few words before her performance with Jon Vaughn at the fourth annual Sight & Sound Festival.

Carrie Gates Video Still - Coocam

Carrie Gates Video Still – Coocam

How did you start VJing and how influential is rave culture in your work?

When I was getting started with DJing and sound art back in the mid ’90s, VJ culture was very much in its infant stages, and the aesthetics of what was being produced for visuals at live events just wasn’t attractive to me. Yet, I always suspected that there was potential in the field. I actually started out as a performance artist at the PPM (Plastic Puppet Motive) in Saskatoon before I got into DJing. DJing was a means to an end—to create immersive spaces where people could feel like anything could happen. I still want to get people’s minds off the psychological grids we think ourselves into and realize that there are many ways you can live a beautiful, truthful, and expressive life.

When the new VJing software came out in the early 2000s, I became instantly addicted because of the technological and conceptual possibilities and artistic freedom of the re-emerging medium. VJing gives me a lot of satisfaction, opportunity, and an infinite amount of detail to get my brain hyped up about. When I bring live video mixing together with music in public spaces, I feel that I am much closer to my artistic ambitions than I was with DJing.

I also use costume in my work to further enhance the feelings of freedom and possibility in the environments in which I work. This influence comes equally from my background as a performance artist and a raver, because for me they started out as one and the same. Lately, I have been really interested in the expression of the alpha personality woman and how it can intersect with drag culture and feminism. After a residency with Nicky Click at Queer City Cinema and some video shoots in Berlin with Cindy Wonderful and Sarah Adorable from Scream Club, I have found much inspiration in high femme culture that can express a sort of tongue-in-cheek, humorous self-awareness of the trappings of traditional concepts of femininity by amplifying the signifiers to an absurdist extremity, maybe like a female-to-female drag queen. We like to call this “chow.”

J + C Feedback Factory Live at the Vancouver New Music Festival, October 2011

J + C Feedback Factory Live at the Vancouver New Music Festival, October 2011

Can you tell me about the upcoming project you’re presenting with Jon Vaughn at Sight & Sound in Montreal?

Jon and I are really excited to be performing some new audiovisual works that use a sort of ‘song’ format, allowing us to explore a number of different non-linear narrative themes. Jon uses a combination of techniques to create the sound, with things like a no-input mixing board, amplified small objects, prepared tapes, and voice. I create all of my footage for the event in advance and then perform a live mix of up to ten videos simultaneously, using sound-reactive and manual techniques to link the actions and intensities of the music with the video, and vice versa. Since we’ve been performing for around ten years together in different projects, we have a really good sense of each other’s improvisational flow, but we also give structure to the pieces by planning in advance how the basic storytelling arc should unfold in a live setting, even though the end result is more like a live painting than a short film.

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