Formed in 2012 We Are Tall Order is the brainchild of DJ/Producer Michael McNeil and VJ/Visual Alchemist Chris Dodds. Their sets are always talked about as something a bit different as they focus a lot of the visuals not just the music. Find out what makes this unstoppable techno visual machine tick:
It’s already been two years since We Are Tall Order formed, where did the idea originally come from?
Michael: I met Chris through flatmates and we had similar ideas. Chris was wanting to get into event production and I was running label Opto Digital and Djing out under a couple of aliases, so we formed We are tall order. We started doing visuals in Dundee and then Edinburgh and Glasgow. We then started to look into L.E.Ds, Projection Mapping, and Lighting then eventually started to brand We Are Tall Order as an act.
Chris: WATO was founded from a mutual love of creative live performances. The two of us came from the opposites end of the audio / visual spectrum and together wanted to combine our knowledge and really push the boundaries of immersive, memorable live performances.
Your sets are very different from usual DJs, why do you think it’s so important to add the visual aspect?
Michael: It can be a performance with software and hardware that is available at the moment. Programs like Resolume, Mad Mapper and Max make it possible to create underlying themes performed visually. These themes or visual palettes can mimic the energy level of a DJ set creating greater emphasis on drops, build ups and breaks.
Chris: You would never sit down and listen to the audio track from a film but not watch the footage would you? Neither would you sit and watch a film with the sound off. We believe that to truly create an immersive experience for the viewer, you need to satisfy not only the aural senses but also the visual senses to take them on an all encapsulating experience. Yes the music is the main focus of most night clubs, yet adding the visual elements allows so much more control over the crowds emotions and feeling. Whether it’s video projections or lighting patterns you can really set the mood of the environment regardless of your venue and that we believe lets us truly take our viewers on an unforgettable journey.
What was it like finally taking the plunge and putting on your first event, pretty nerve-racking?
Michael: We have been very fortunate to play some interesting local gigs recently. In March we played at the Hidden Door Festival which was great. We met loads of really cool people and also worked with Adventures In Light, Digital Jones, Fridge Master and loads of others. It was a collective of Artists who got permission to turn the disused vaults on Market Street into a mini festival. It was great!
We also have a visuals residency at Edinburgh club night Shake Yer Shoulders, which has been great for showing new ideas for our visuals equipment. We played a DJ/VJ set there in September for the Shake Yer Shoulders – Animal Circus Party.
Chris: Nerve racking – slightly yes, but ultimately we were just excited to get stuck into it. Our first big event was at the Hidden Door festival in March and we really pulled out the stops for that one. It was great to debut our LED cage and most importantly to finally play together on stage.
How do you guys like to write your music, any studio comforts?
Michael: I usually get creative over a couple of projects which are half-finished and very similar in tempo and genre. Then I’ll re-process audio and arrange some of the best bits. Everything I ever do I still have on file along with my sample banks and synthesizer settings. So I guess as long as I have my library and favourite plug-ins I guess I’m pretty kushty.
Chris: Los Cardos burritos, you cant beat it after a hard days graft.
You’re new album ‘Cabin Fever’ came out recently, what was the inspiration behind the album?
Michael: I just wanted to make an album of everything I had learned so far among other things. I wanted to have little rules in the formula and see where we ended up
In the two years you’ve played live what’s been your favourite set?
Michael: It would have to be Shake Yer Shoulders Animal Circus!
Chris: Our last gig at Shake Yer Shoulders was a great night for us. We put a lot of effort into finding some really funky tracks for our set, along with some seriously tasty visuals. We took along our new Projection cage and had it set up around the DJ booth, it was awesome.
So on to the most recent mix that you’ve got for us, what can we expect?
Michael: It’s a recording from Studio 24 in Edinburgh of our DJ set at Shake Yer Shoulders Animal Circus. We got our new sound tech Rory to mic up the room and record the feed from the decks. It sounds really cool and we hope you enjoy it too!
Chris: We actually recorded our set at Shake Yer Shoulders and mixed it down for our regular podcast. If you like your techno check it out for an hour of banging debauchery.
What’s the next chapter for We Are Tall Order?
Michael: Carry on promoting the album and start some new ideas I have.
Chris: For us its always onwards and upwards, we have a lot of events ahead of us that we are designing stage visuals for, which is always great fun. We also have our next big installation on the drawing board which is of course top-secret, but to give you an idea of the content, lets just say it will burn your retinas out of your skull… Music wise we are still spreading the love with our newly released album Cabin Fever and have our next podcast well under way. We have big plans for 2015 with a fresh new style that we can’t wait to put out there, so keep your ears peeled!