VJ Alex Curson on EDMtv, Maxim 100 parties, and pioneering Virtual Reality

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VJ Alex Curson on EDMtv, Maxim 100 parties, and pioneering Virtual Reality

Alex Curson and I met in person for the first time at Electric Daisy Carnival 2016 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I had helped to curate the first ever vendor row at EDC, of which Alex played a part in shooting for Glow Threads at the event. We didn’t realize that either of us were going to be there. Having only loosely connected over the phone a few times in the past months, and out of 130,000 people, he was surprised to have been recognized.

Well Alex, if you knew that I kept you as a “see first” on my Facebook feed, you’d realize that recognizing your face after seeing it for 5x/day, for the past three months, was no difficult feat.

Alex Curson aka VJ Spazz

Alex Curson aka VJ Spazz

 

Alex is the Chief Creative Officer at EDMTV where he works on creating the visualizations (available here on their app) as well as producing top notch video content from his background shooting thousands of nightclubs and running a variety of very alluring publications, including my favorite BABEMETHOD. Lyle and I, The 2Courtiers, first came across his Ethos on the 45th floor of the Wynn Hotel for a CES afterparty.

A photo from Alex's newest e-magazine project "CatNip"; a magazine for women who enjoy feline lingerie

A photo from Alex's newest e-magazine project "CatNip"; a magazine for women who enjoy feline lingerie



 

I walked into the typical party favors and beautiful dresses but was set into the Virtual World by a helmet placed on me from behind. I hadn’t quite experienced VR before, so having to rotate my whole body to consume the sense the entire experience immediately excited me to go about our courting and to listen to the Tech and Music Wizards and Philosophers sipping gold champagne and laughing about money. Among talks of concert tours along the silk road, 600 million person marketing networks, Top 40 interviews, sponsored booze, bathroom nose parties and world creation, Keith Anderson was in attendance (see his world-work below; will likely interview him soon) explaining to me the functionality of EDMTV and what sort of content is going on in the music platform of the future.

 

Alex Curson was brought up.

 

We had initially attended that party to pitch the Festival Fashion Show (which may still happen) on EDMTV and had approached Alex in doing so. Nothing happened from those first few conversations, but I noticed what a fascinating life he led and decided to keep digging over a few months…..and holy shit is this guy interesting.

 

Maxim Hot 100 parties, PlayBoy Halloweens, Paradise Challenges, EDC Production work, VJing for the likes of Skrllex, Deadmau5 and Avicii, orchestrating light shows at clubs all over the world, serial entrepreneur, viral marketer, magazine publisher, videographer, underground rapper - don’t be surprised to see Alex topping the charts sometime soon. He’s been spitting game since he was 13 and is crafting an empire around his breakout success.

Like a boss.

Like a boss.

 

His father had owned a computer store in the 80s, so he always grew up with technology. Alex first got his inspiration for big audiences when he posted videos of himself playing QUAKE - reaching 4.5 million downloads without streaming and pigeons carrying USBs faster than Dial-Up, it’s quite impressive for a young boy.

 

Maybe not too hard to imagine Alex curating a 6,000 person dome show 20 years later.

These two have the dome thing in common, actually. Check out "Skrillex VR Dome LA" on youtube.com

These two have the dome thing in common, actually. Check out "Skrillex VR Dome LA" on youtube.com

 

On October 24th 2010, Alex Curson had a seizure. VJ SPAZZ (fitting his stage moniker) would never be the same, but divinely for the better. “We’re putting together the most consciously enlightening show the world has ever seen.” He says now 7 years later.

 

October 24th is an important date for you non-phemeprotypologithanatologists - October 24th is the day the man who most famously studied the repeating patterns of patterns displayed at every scale. Benoit Mandelbrot was the father of fractal visualizations and he died on the same night that Alex received his caesura from the Universe and downloaded his mission to spread the birth of the world from the eyes of the Aliens who created us - in the most entertaining and mind-fucking way possible. He didn’t actually know this until a few months later and traced it back to that exact date.

 

He's basically an alien

He's basically an alien

Here at Phestiv, we hope to inspire you to live a heroic and Phestiv lifestyle, and are always curious about the adoption of story (read: hero’s journey) elements in the creation process. Alex admits that at first, his works were very organic and technical, as opposed to vividly thematic. He was very good, he mentions how he worked with a master colorist to balance the Visual harmonies between LED Screen and Stage lights, but “It was the natural progression,” Alex remarks after his 500 some odd sets at the likes of Our:House New Zealand, EDC in Vegas and the Billboard Nightclub in Melbourne. “My imagery started connecting more to the human spirit and seeing the fractals all around us.”

 

When Alex dropped into his seizure, fractals floated all around him, not just in front on a 2nd screen behind a DJ, but as an entire world that one could code, paint, and walk inside of. What a dream that must have been…

A series of Divine Interventions like this had been slowly leading him to spiritual enlightenment “They’re hard for people who haven’t had them to really understand what that’s like,” but he says it inspired a huge shift in focus for his life. He wants to thank Keith Lostracco whom he created a music video with Pretty Lights using an algorithm (he tells me as he plays Fur Elise on the piano in a house museum with an Angel in every room):

 

The Fractals

 

Clynton Blacklaws: the guy who plucked Alex out of his shitty corporate job and threw a camera in his hand

 

 

 

Seeby Woodhouse: for being an overall friend, business partner and mentor

 

Vello Virkhaus → the head VJ for V Squared Labs, who produce the stage design and visuals for Insomniac Events and is Alex’s main inspiration for the next 15 years

 

At this point, for inspiration, we trade knowledge of amazing spaces across the world. From Lyle, MeowWolf - a fully immersive and interactive world built by George RR Martin based in New Mexico. From Alex, DreamHack - a Comicon esque tech convention with hot DJs and hotter girls (it’s Sweden). It’s dope to check out, if you’re interested.

 

We talk of the Groove Cruise and Paradise Challenge, of Maxim Hot 100 parties, and rooftop tables at Drai’s. We both acknowledge the ups and downs of financial security in the entertainment industry, but damn if life isn’t full of majesty in the pursuit of dreams. “There’s a world of opportunity. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries,” he says. Check out his favorite work below

Pavonine

In 2012, Alex recalls working on a behind the scenes documentary for EDC with V Squared Labs labs, when asked about the coolest project he’d ever worked on… working with the masters of your craft is more fulfilling than hanging out with the hottest models in the world, it seems, but what is life if you can’t have both? ;)

 

EDC- Behind the Screens. 

 

A few tips for producers:

 

1 Don’t cut costs on equipment and insurance

2 The best profit and ROI is changing lives.

3 It is valuable to your sponsors when you integrate their products and messages into the performance, as opposed to bombarding them with blatant advertisements.

5 Your team should be filled with people who are filled with passion and enthusiasm for what you’re doing.

6 You should be able to party with your professional party team.

7 When hiring Videographers, always ask for a demo.

8 Build relationships. Do awesome work for free for a long time, and eventually your name will get passed around and you’ll have more work than you know what to do with.

9 When you first get a big client, they’ll micro-manage you. Grit your teeth and do everything they say. In the case of Maxim, Alex had to re-do a 2 minute video nearly 25 times, but now has to make minor changes to hit the nail on the head.

 

A few tips for nightclub videographers:

 

1- Use good equipment and get good content. Garbage in, garbage out. This cannot be fixed in post.

2- Use good, up-tempo music. If it’s slow and boring, your video will be slow and boring.

3- Have a call to action. Like our page? Share this video? Always have an action. Ask all your friends to share!

 

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How to Make it as an Entertainer

How to Make it as an Entertainer

by The Grand Writer
Samuel Morgan Wiseman
Valkyrie Queen, Drag Herald of Heroes
A Summer Dancer for Leather Demons
The Midnight Dancer
Dungeon Master of Anciient Futüre
Samsara of the 2Courtiers
I am Lugh; the Bard Stepping on Dragons
Renaissance Poet of the Internet and
I am nothing if not a Poet

TL;DR Make money entertaining.

(this is what is known as the associative property of How To’s)

(this is what is known as the associative property of How To’s)


Slightly longer TL;DR

 

1- start with why

2- nail your entertainment product

3- figure out how best to communicate what your product will do for other people

   ie. event producers (in the case of strict performers) or your consumers/fans/attendees

4- figure out how to automate and scale the distribution of your product

 

This month has been significant for me. For the first time in my life, I devoted 100% of my time to art and my higher mission in life, and I was able to pay my rent. Barely, but still. It’s a landmark that marks the beginning of this year of 10, For this Courtier Stepping On Dragons and I feel compelled to share how I’ve come to it, in order to help my fellow artist go even further than me.


 

The crew at AnciientFuture Neverland

The crew at AnciientFuture Neverland

 

To make it as an entertainer, first you have to define what “it” is. Sparing you the varieties of syntax, I decided that “it” was a life, and that the first step to making a life is making a living. Then I went about deciding exactly how I was going to do that. As Steven Covey, author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” says,

 

Begin with the End in Mind. [This] means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen. One of the best ways to incorporate [this habit] into your life is to develop a Personal Mission Statement.”

 

So I did. I feel the most present and happy when I am making magic, or art in muggle terms. Learning how to better create art fulfilled whatever spiritual connection was necessary for my human experience and the dream became a School of Wizardry. For people who choose not to understand such things, I’ve described it as a Virtual Reality Theme Park that is a cross between World of Warcraft, Walt Disney World, and Burning Man.

 

In order to get a theme park, I saw from such figures as Walt Disney, Stan Lee, and Richard Wagner that extreme artistic success is required before such a place could be created and endured, but that I was not even artistically living, much less in any extreme manner.

 

So, onto creating a living as an artist.

 

This is where the end becomes so important. If I had just wanted a living as an artist, I would have gone my uncle’s route. I have an uncle who is one of the best guitarists in the world. Granted, it’s been years since I’ve spoken to him due to unfortunate family feuds. What I’ve ultimately learned from my uncle is that a living is not enough. A famous article, basically says that each business requires three different personality traits in order to thrive (not just live): the technician, the entrepreneur, and the manager.

 

Let’s apply this to food, say you are a chef.

-You made $25/hr while your boss makes $50/hr. He can't cook without you, so you begin your own business cooking. You have no entrepreneurial, scalable skills, so you wind up working for $25/hr again as you gain as many clients as one person can hold and work longer hours because you are an entrepreneur.  

-So you get a partner who is good at expanding.

He finds 3 chefs who you can teach, you both open a restaurant to a bang and enjoy a successful first 30 days as a restaurant when suddenly your lights turn off on a Friday night because nobody paid the electric bill.

-Thus, the manager.

 

To directly apply this to music, if you are the greatest guitarist alive, but you have no other skills, you are determined on a path of very technical, hands on work. You work for a guitar university or an orchestra, you have to play every day until you save enough to die, or you die. You realize this and break off and start doing your own performances and teaching your own students. You are now master of your fate, but now you have more overhead and less marketing and suddenly you are making less with more work. You’ve got no vision, no sense of the higher pursuits. Not to say that you can’t, but you must develop skills as an entrepreneur. What are you uniquely special at? How can you hire/inspire a team to get behind you? How do you connect the money?

 

If you are an amazing dancer, singer, actor, poet, writer, etc and all you do is your craft, then you will be confined to a life of only your craft and become a slave to your magic, instead of its master.

“Magic is life. It is mother, father, lover, son, daughter, food, air and water.”- Raistlin Majere

“Magic is life. It is mother, father, lover, son, daughter, food, air and water.”- Raistlin Majere

With this realization, I decided that direct entertainment was not the route that I was going to go- acting in poop commercials, writing diddies for high school marching bands is where this leads. I asked myself why (the biggest pop star at the time whom every seemed to hate) Justin Bieber was able to become famous where my professors and heroes were not. Sales and marketing, is the short answer. Really solid team, really solid network, valuable product for a lot of people, drive to make money quickly.

 

So, let’s develop skills to become really good at sales and marketing. I worked as a BA advertising Coca- Cola and Xbox and eventually ran into my current business partner and closest friend, Lyle Maxson, doing a series of gigs like this for a local publication. I had realized that I had no idea what I was doing in terms of promoting myself as an artist and realized that I desperately needed a mentor. Lyle suggested that I sell tickets for local EDM promoter, Relentless Beats, with him. Accidentally, I had stumbled upon to the key: make other people money. I sold 10 tickets to my first festival, Crush 2014 (one of the best nights of my life, incidentally. I was dressed like a drag bohemian King. The sex was as amazing as it was public. More on this later).

I caught the attention of the leaders in the company and continued to accept every opportunity offered and volunteered as much as I could. As I continued to provide value (saving on hourly positions, making money for the company), I got more positive feeling and eventually was offered a meeting with the CEO. I called Lyle and we created a 6-month marketing plan to present to the CEO on how to make him money. I quit my job selling IT hardware that morning and walked in the RB office that afternoon, made our pitch and said to Thomas, “You’re hiring us.” and he was like, “Cool. I don’t have any money. But. IF YOU CAN FIND THE MONEY, you can keep some of it.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 3.00.46 PM.png

We have no intentions of being starving artists

A long story later, we started our own company, The 2Courtiers (the two Core-tea-ers), and focused on doing exactly that. After traveling around to almost 30 different festivals in our first 6 months and listening to the hows, whys, and needs of the people putting on the events, we’ve figured out where the money is to be made and how to best utilize it––through sponsorships, vendor spots, consumer marketing, experiential brand connections, and a variety of other extremely well researched and creative means, we eventually threw our own event and figured out how to make money for ourselves and the artists in our lives. We haven’t reached our goals quite yet––you can know how to bench 400 pounds years before you’re able to do it-–– but we have seen the gainz and this future is becoming reality.



 

In our upcoming events, we’ll teach you how to brand yourself as an artist through presenting yourself properly to event producers, how to identify the avatar of your core audience member, and provide master classes for a variety of disciplines to help foster your growth as a creator. Speaking of, we have the most generous ticket commissions out there and learning to sell tickets and how to make money to sustain yourself and your fellows is the most important skill out there. PM @the2courtiers on facebook if you’re interested :)

 

What personal development courses/activities would you like to see at our events?

 

Let us know in the comments below :)

Don't forget!! Tickets to Techno Gatsby Gotham are going up on Saturday!! Get yours here ---> bit.ly/2CGotham


 

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