David Terranova: the Director
Flash Developer/Video/Music Producer/Designer
Born: Rome, then moved to London. I’m half Italian, half English. I spent part of my childhood moving between London and a rustic old village outside Rome, then at 16 I moved to the UK permanently.
Current City: I’ve been in New York for 6 months now, London has definitely been the most influential city on me. Since moving to NY I’m feeling really fresh and positive vibes everywhere, so I know my move will be an important chapter for me.
How did your opportunity with the Rebel Rave video series come about? Matthew Dear’s Black City? Richie Hawtin’s M-nus Embed video?
DT: An important chapter in my life was when I discovered the party scene in East London at the rather late age of 23. I became ingrained in the local parties, taking pictures with my little snap camera (flickr?) and making flash flyers and posters for friends’ nights like “Trailer Trash”. I got a text message from Hannah Holland one day, while I was freelancing in an agency building an awful kids’ website for Disney. She was a DJ from that scene and asked me if I was interested in speaking to Damian Lazarus, he was looking for someone to make some videos. Within a couple of weeks I was sitting in his kitchen drinking a cup of tea and stroking his cat, completely star struck, talking about this series he wanted to make to promote his label(Crosstown Rebels). Neither of us had a clear idea of what we wanted, he just wanted me to film the parties and make cool videos. So as a trial he sent me off on New Year’s Eve to film three different parties. My cameraman brother quickly showed me how to use his Sony Z1 and my best friend, Robbie came along as my assistant. Damian loved the video, but it was just a leap in the dark for me.
Each episode you can see that I learned something new: the first one was just a basic edit to music, the second I tried to record some sit-down “interviews”, the third was a big mess because Watergate in Berlin didn’t let me use my top-light, the fourth I played a bit more with graphics, the fifth I used a presenter for the first time, etc, etc. And you can see the editing and style also has changed a lot, so it’s just been a vehicle for me to figure out how to do things. The last episode, featuring the RR U.S. Tour, was mostly focused on making everything feel like a dream/nightmare, which is something I’m getting fond of. The Richie Hawtin video is a bit like that too.
The people at Fabric really liked the series and they put me through to Matthew Dear when he was looking for someone to make a promo video about his Audion world tour, filmed at his upcoming night at Fabric. I had met Matthew on a couple of occasions before at Crosstown-related events, so felt honored to finally be actually working with him. That was almost 2 years ago now, so when I moved to NY last January I sent him a quick email showing some of my latest work. He particularly liked the Afterlife video(http://vimeo.com/8153533) made with my friend James Mountford, so he put me in touch with Will Calcutt to work together on the material for Black City… Six months later and I’m in an office with Will filming my eyeball for the promo video!
I remember not really knowing who Richie Hawtin was 4 or 5 years ago. I recognized the name, but knew nothing about his history nor heard him play. So, I went to this festival in London where friends were saying “Wow, Richie Hawtin and Ali Demirel”, because Ali’s name was also on the flyer. I was like “who’s Ali Demirel?” and they said “he does the visuals or something”. Turns out I was blown away by what was being displayed on this giant LED screen. There were these minimal geometrical images moving slowly all over the place and that was the beginning of a new chapter for me. This was a moment that shifted things around in my head. A couple of months later we went to the Contakt show in London, and that’s when I felt like my eyes had just been opened up for the first time. I remember going back home that morning with my best friend, we were in the shop looking for some breakfast and all we could see were these perfect and beautiful shapes everywhere, we actually stopped to look at the bottles that were neatly standing on the floor, admiring their colorful caps and how they were all chained together in an invisible grid. The next day I decided to recreate one of the visual structures that had been shown at the event, the one you always see in the Contakt videos with the grid of dots moving around, I called it Minus Grid (http://www.davidterranova.com/minus-grid).
A few months later I get a message from Ali Demirel, who I knew all about by this time: his history and work with Burak Arikan. So you can imagine the excitement when I get an email from him. A few times he tried to get me to do some work for them, including the first installment of the M-nus Embed series, but I could never take anything on because of my own schedule with other projects. So finally, I think after two years after we first spoke, we managed to get me working on the third installment of the Embed series, following Richie around on a 3 day tour across Europe, which included flying in a private jet. It was a really big ordeal for me as a lot of things went wrong (including a lost camera charger halfway through the trip!!) and everything became a terrible nightmare that I couldn’t believe was happening, which meant I had to work 3 times harder during post production to save the project. You can read more detail on my blog: those three days were in a way some of the worst in my life, but at the same time I was on a constant high spending time with Richie and Ali, people who I’d admired so much.
2010 Rebel Rave Tour(Crosstown Rebels) You’re the director for the video series; which shows did you happen to attend? Most memorable experiences? Fav. artist from series? Who was shooting all the video?
DT: I filmed everything actually. I don’t know how the series is perceived, but it’s actually a one-man-band. The skinny guy with the big camera poking around the DJs, that’s me… My favorite artist from the series has to be Mr. Seth Troxler. You just stick a cute girl next to him and camera in his face and he’ll just go on for hours. From the episode in Paris there’s so much footage I couldn’t use, really hilarious material, maybe one day I’ll post it up unedited. I would put Damian Lazarus up there in the top; after all he’s the real man behind it all.
Memorable experiences, on a personal level, has to be the Wolf+Lamb episode because everything about the trip was magical: meeting Zev and Gadi, going to the Marcy Hotel, the unparalleled 24 hour party, meeting my girlfriend. It became a huge chapter in my life, that episode is the only reason why I’m now living here in New York, a couple of blocks away from the Marcy.
Another experience has to be the time I was at the Droog party on the roof-top of the Standard Hotel in Downtown LA: Damian had just started playing and the sun had gone down and all the surrounding skyscrapers were lit up. Unforgettable moments and a really colossal setting for a party! Oh no wait, actually probably the best one was walking around with Seth in Paris, looking for one of these guys on the street who is trying to sell you a haircut deal. We found one and followed this dodgy guy for about 15 minutes down these back alleys until we got to this amazing Caribbean hair salon where a bunch of 3 year-old kids gathered around us in awe (camera kit, Anna the presenter and Seth, this superstar-looking-guy with a funky tache). One of the kids burst into tears when we had to leave as he didn’t want to let go of the microphone we had mistakenly let him hold. In the end Seth was pretty pissed off that they brutalized his tache, right before his gig at the Batofar for Freak n Chic. That was very memorable.
The Rebel Rave series is a quirky music-based video series with party cuts and special guests. What’s your approach presenting the series?
DT: My approach at first was actually non-existent, it’s all been experimenting with whatever knowledge I had at the time. Well actually, the only thing I’d say is constant with my videos is that I spend a lot of time on the music. Before editing, I find the right music. I mix it all in Ableton, exporting single mixed tracks for Final Cut. It’s a fiddly process because I then edit the video to this track, and if at a certain point the track breaks down, that means I have to also break down the visuals, which involves going back and forth between the video edit, finding timecodes, going to Ableton and cutting or looping sections, or putting effects on top at the right point in time, and then going back to Final Cut to see if it fits. So as the video edit builds, I’m gradually extending the audio edit.
RR series: Biggest mishap?
DT: On my first trial during the NYE episode, two of the tapes were all scrambled, no playback! I generally have bad luck when I least need it (wait till you hear the Minus Embed story in a few days!), so I was in utter despair and just assumed that it was the end of my short-lived relationship with Damian and the Rebels. My brothers helped me figure out what was going on with the tapes; we called all sorts of technicians. In the end I found that if you scrubbed the tape at half the speed, it played fine without any scrambling. So, I re-recorded the two tapes by scrubbing them at half the speed onto new tapes, and then recaptured the new ones and sped them up by 200%. Big mess! Again, please don’t tell damian.
Rebel Rave Series: How are the music selections for the videos decided?
DT: Most of the time Damian sends me the label’s latest releases, which in some cases don’t work too well for video as they can be too bassy and minimal without many variations in frequency (although over the past year this has been changing). If there’s a track that has a lot of high-frequency effects going on, then it’s perfect to edit to, otherwise there’s nothing for me to hook onto.
Sometimes, I hear the track playing in the original footage and I ask Damian if he has the original (sometimes another DJ is playing it in the footage). For example in the last episode there was some shots of Damian in Mexico playing Robert James’ “Sleep Moods”. I didn’t know it at the time, so I exported a clip and sent it to him, after which he sent the original back. In the final edit you can hear the original audio (together with crowd and ambience sounds) which then mixes in with the original track, which I’ve pitched up/down to match the BPM that Damian was playing at. It’s a great way for me to get some good music. Just don’t tell Damian. Ha! Other times I pick stuff from my own library. Whatever you hear that isn’t released on Crosstown Rebels is my own selection. I ask him if he’s ok with it, if he’s ok with the artist or with the label, and most times he is.
What next in the Rebel Rave Series?
DT: We were trying to do the next one at Burning Man, but left it too late to organize and it looks like it’s not happening. It’s Damian’s and Jamie’s first time there, so it would have been really cool to do one at BM. Actually there’s a really big and exciting project for Rebel Rave coming up in the next 1 or 2 years(yeah, it’s that big). But I can’t say anything about this yet – sorry!.