Vancouver-based CB Shaw is one of North-America’s most popular Video-DJ’s. He is starting to make a name for himself internationally and, in 2008, placed #14 on DJ Magazine’s annual Top 20 VJ poll. CB brings years of experience as an award-winning Video Producer and Director to the mix. He remixes, shoots, and edits his videos himself, giving him exclusive custom content. Drawing from a huge library of Music Videos, Television, and Movies, CB uses samples from every source imaginable, spanning over 5 decades of Pop Culture.

DVJ Vision: For how long have you been djing/vjing and how did you get started?
cb shaw: This is the 5th year I’ve been Video DJing. I’ve been DJing a lot longer. I was producing corporate videos as a day job and DJing on weekends for many years, and the technology came together, which enabled me to combine my two “hobbies” as it were…

DVJ Vision: What kind of gear did you use to produce those videos? Where you able to integrate any of that into DJing?
cb shaw: I started off using Logic and Final Cut Pro, really just creating the kind of stuff I would want to see if I went to a club and saw a Video DJ. Movie samples, Cartoons, pop culture references, anything I could think of that I thought might be cool or that people might get a laugh out of. I strung the ideas together using music videos, and I sort of imagined that people would stop and stare at the screens, but they just kept dancing… which made me realize that it goes over most people’s heads…or maybe I just need to play music that doesn’t make people dance! Ha!

DVJ Vision: How would you describe your musical style?

cb shaw: Initially live I was using Ms. Pinky’s, so if you know what that is… then you know I go way back. Musically, I would say I fall into the “open format” category. I like all styles of music and feel comfortable playing any of them, depending on the crowd. I play in Vegas a lot, and the style there is to pretty much switch up the genre every 10 minutes or so, because all the tourists are from somewhere else and are expecting to hear the same thing they are used to hearing from back home. It can be a little frustrating at times, actually. I prefer playing to electronic music fans, though. I get booked to play Massives, and they are a lot of fun. I would much rather play electronic music all night. Even within Dance Music, I tend to vary my set up quite a bit. I play a lot of Electro House, but I lace it up with a lot of old school early “rave” music, and a little bit of trance – I still do the hits when it comes to the old school stuff, it brings back a lot of memories for people. And it’s great to see some of these old music videos from the beginnings of the Dance Music culture. How the club kids used to dress, etc.

DVJ Vision: What kind of video’s do you play with electronic music?

cb shaw: I try to find the music video if it’s available. I make a lot of my own custom videos, too – for songs that don’t have videos. And I really like to make my own custom videos for white labels , etc – tracks that use a sample from an old song, and I go find the video, cut it up to match the white label. Those can be a lot of fun to play in the club. I also shoot my own content as well, I put samples of me in the videos too… for my own narcissistic pleasure… Ha! I’m a bit of a vocalist, so I throw the odd thing in. But it can be really funny to watch people’s faces when they realize that the guy on the screen is the same guy behind the decks. It’s like this double-take that happens. It’s pretty funny. I’m also using some of the DVJ Vision stuff for the default for when a track doesn’t have a video when I am playing with Toast. He has all this stuff that has no videos, so when he plays one of those tracks your visuals come up! And if I have some strange request from the club manager or something that I don’t have the video for, but “have to” play.

DVJ Vision: That’s great to hear. How do you create your custom video’s and video remixes?

cb shaw: I use a bunch of different programs for different uses. I’m quite fond of Ableton live for time-stretching stuff, and I use Final Cut , Motion and After-Effects where I need it.

DVJ Vision: You mentioned Miss Pinky earlier and I know you’ve used a variety of gear over the years. What does your current set-up look like when you step into the DJ-booth?

cb shaw: I’ve been using the Pioneer DJM800 as my main audio / video mixer since it came out. It’s got MIDI and I’ve got it all rigged up to control the video and the audio simultaneously. I’ve used a bunch of different programs to control the video over the years, right now I’m using Serato for audio and a third party plug-in for the video. I use Technics 1200 turntables as my controllers. I’m not sure if I could ever give those up….

DVJ Vision: You are not using the Serato-Video-SL plug-in?

cb shaw: I’ve used it, but I’m not fond of some of the features. I still have a few interlaced videos kicking around in my collection, and it makes them look terrible. Also the transitions aren’t as good as say… Virtual DJ. Maybe they will improve it?

DVJ Vision: Speaking of Virtual DJ. I taught a workshop called ‘DJing with Video’ at DJ Expo in August and did a little survey and about 25% of the audience used Pioneer DVJ’s, 25% Serato-Video SL and 50% Virtual DJ. I was a bit surprised, but then that’s a mobile DJ crowd.
cb shaw: Yeah, it’s pretty popular. I used it for a long time. It’s stable and has good transitions. The downside is the quality. I had a hard time getting it to play full resolution, although there are guys who swore they got it to play HiRes, but I could never make it work, and had to use pretty small files. You should have had me at the workshop!

DVJ Vision: Yes, where were you?

cb shaw: Probably skateboarding somewhere….

DVJ Vision: DVDJ Unique helped me out.

cb shaw: He’s awesome. A real stand-up guy!

DVJ Vision: I always have a guest when I do one of these. Last year it was Jonny from Eclectic Method. Next time we are at the same event (Expo, WMC…) I would love for it to be you!

cb shaw: Sounds great. Let’s set it up!

DVJ Vision: I feel that 2008 was a watershed year for Video-DJ’s. Serato launched Video-SL and Pioneer the SVM-1000. What impact do you think these products have had?

cb shaw: I think that the SVM is an incredible piece of kit. It does everything a Video DJ could want, and you could even use it in conjunction with Video-SL. The downside is the size. If they could get it a little smaller I would travel with one everywhere I go. I love my 800, though. It does the trick. I think that Video-SL made a big impact because file sharers could get out there and start getting their content for free or cheap. This was a big hurdle for a lot of other DJs. DJs have gotten used to getting content for free, so to have to pay a hundred or two hundred dollars a month for a bunch of videos you may or may not play from a DVD service was more than a lot of guys were willing to do. Now they can download one track at a time, share with their friends, and it makes more sense for them. It flooded the market with a bunch of amateurs, though….

DVJ Vision:
How do you think the rising popularity of AV-performers will affect technology? What kind of gear do you see yourselves using in 5 years time?
cb shaw: Wow. Good question. Technics 1200s as a controller, for sure! (laughing) Well, we will need something that is universal for both audio and video, something that is more of an “industry standard” the way that the DJM 800 and CDJ1000 are. When there are a whole bunch of different types of kit out there, it makes it hard for the venues to invest in technology, which makes it hard for performers to find places to play. That’s been the biggest hurdle of the past 5 years. Not the jocks so much as the venues. The DJ Expo really opened my eyes, because all the jocks, who were asking about video, were mobile jocks, guys who weren’t dependent on the venues to provide the gear to play on. They were jumping all over video to stay competitive. Obviously whatever will become the new standard has to be user friendly from a computer file management system. It should have tweakable effects for both audio and video (simultaneously and separately). You know, just like an SVM-1000. I’ve been seeing a lot of wireless stuff using computers, ipods, etc.. and I think there might be something neat in that technology too. A guy with a couple of iphones strapped to his legs could be the next big thing!

DVJ Vision:
You have a reputation of playing some pretty crazy parties. Would you like to share any of them with us?
cb shaw: Well, I just played the Fetish and Fantasy Ball in Vegas in front of six thousand people. That was pretty intense! Let’s just say some people went “all out” for that one… There was a live “sex” show going on in front of my booth while I was playing…. fire breathers, trapeze artists, bondage, some girls with metal grinders against their metal chastity belts… some sparks were hitting the decks. It was something you don’t see every day.

DVJ Vision:
Excellent. Finally, do you have any advise for the up-and coming Video-DJ?
cb shaw: First, I would say that you need to learn how to be a good audio DJ. Practice your basic skills. Learn how to beat match. Learn how to mix harmonically, or at least how to avoid key clashes. And most importantly – learn how to read a crowd and play to your crowd. The video is an added bonus for pros, who already have mastered the basics of DJing and want to do something extra. If you can’t mix, or play bad music, no one will care if there is video to go along with it or not. And most importantly, be a fan of music! Share your love and passion for the art-form. Your honesty and integrity will shine through.

DVJ Vision:
Thank you for the interview. It was good catching up with you.
cb shaw: You too! Always a good time!

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This interview was conducted in November 2009