Bewitched & Hypnotized: You will be rocked!!

Interview w/ Video-mix Heroes, Animal Charm

by Lori Surfer

If you aren’t familiar with ANIMAL CHARM yet, they are a duo (sometimes trio) of guys who mix video and sound into collage. They combine random samples of old TV footage, infomercials, found footage and offbeat clips together with video mixers and the like. Anything goes sometimes, the group also uses film loops, nature programs, and record players to create walls of audio-insanity. Since 1995 , Animal Charm have been combining and mixing various Audio and Visual ingredients to create new, Breath taking works of art. They also have released a few VHS tape compilations of their work through filmmaker MATT McCORMICK’S Rodeo film/Peripheral Produce label. Originally from Chicago, but now residing in Los Angeles- Animal Charms’ Jim Fetterley & Richard Bott are a video collective that’s worth checking out!! Last year, filmmaker & noisician, Lori Surfer sat down with ANIMAL CHARM for a brief chat...

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Interview from BEYOND RECOGNITION zine (published by LORI SURFER)

Taped at BOTTOM of the HILL club (SF) on 9/10/2000

LORI SURFER: Nice to be able to talk to you finally. First off, can you tell me the sources for your images. You guys are nuts!

RICH BOTT: From television, infomercials... we use everything from everywhere. Our work is sometimes dictated literally by what we find in the thrift Store. We also use images taken off the Internet and cable TV.

LORI: Where in the heck did you get the footage that was reconstructed in your piece called ,”Mark Roth”??

RICH: Oh, that’s from a video about a post-office meeting… a sort of Infomercial documentary we found. We overdubbed the post office clips with the soundtrack from AIRPORT 1975 and there it was.

LORI: The film feels serious, as if there is a conspiracy theme going on. The music totally changes the whole mood. At the same time, it's oddly funny, almost creepy.

JIM: “Mark Roth” came out in 1998, (I think).

LORI: Tell me about how your film “Marbles” came about. In particular, I found the homoerotic theme intriguing. Is it from another bad 80’s film?

RICH: Oh yeah, “MARBLES” a film we did by taking all the Bill Murray scenes out of a movie called

Animal Charm/Gordon Lightfoot Bonus Video Clip!

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(3MB)

“MEATBALLS”. After every scene with Bill was removed, we were left with amazing footage that meant something else entirely after we strung it together. A summer camp type movie that turned out to be a sort of men loving men thing.(Sorta)…

LORI: My all-time favorite ANIMAL CHARM video has to be “SLOW GIN STALLION”… tell me about it, and whether there is a hidden meaning to it?

RICH: I don’t know if there is a meaning to it. What is this, an article for Art Forum? Ha ha! Well, it is an earlier piece that we did. I made the music in 1996 on my computer With a program called Sound Edit. I used a sample off an album called GODZZUCKI and turned it into the sound for Slow Gin Stallion… I was into the habit of sampling the worst of my music collection, never using samples of cds I really did like; Just the ones I hated. It worked at the time.

Then we added some video to it.The footage of the horses and baby lambs came from an Educational called, “Baby Animals”...

LORI: I noticed often that you use allot of animal and child–related imagery in your work. Tell me why, and what purpose for this, if any?

RICH: (jokingly) There is that rule that if you have an old person, a child, or a animal… then your film is a success. It evokes a sort of soft-banality, or something. There isn’t anything evasive going on, it’s kind of like … look at the baby animal... but with a surreal twist.

LORI: Tell me about the show you did in Taos , New Mexico with WetGate and Maximillian aka Mr. Nobody (who was at the table during the interview -ed. )…. What did you show there?

RICH: We did some work in a show called “Cinematrix”.. I got spanked, there were like 15 projectors going too. There were some naked people downstairs… a wild party. This was in 1998, Animal Charm and Maximillian met at the Taos festival. There was multiple projections and video mixing set on destruct. Warehouse parties, djs and films in a desert city.

LORI: What are you working on currently? Any new news?

RICH: Well, we have jobs now too, so we have to come up with these more concise projects. So, we're kinda going through all these videos, and getting assorted transitions and “wipes”. Pirating new images, basically. I feed vhs into my computer and loop things, it looks like animation sometimes. I plan to mix extremely geared, highly calculated performative tapes- which will be computerized. At the same time, I like the feel of lo-tech a lot.

LORI: I totally understood the western American/Chinese fusion, not many people do… (private jokes being told here)… Do you guys have a video release coming up soon?

RICH: We are going to distribute our own compilation soon for sale off our website. We’re still working on that (as well as completing the website itself). The tape will be a compilation of our live mixes. Drop us a line at AnimalCharm@msn.com …yep.

We are also partners with filmmaker Matt McCormick. He has a few of our titles available in his Peripheral produce catalog and website: www.rodeofilmco.com. I’m working on an idea about setting up a network called “Plunderground’ where people can trade sound effects or footage to loop and use. Gathering source materials, etc. Endless possibilities.

Most importantly, we will be playing Other Cinema in san Francisco on APRIL 14th, 2001. I love performing for the San Francisco audience. When we played at this club in Seattle (911 media?) a lot of people walked out during our tape mixing. “Hot Mirror” left people confused up there.

LORI: I hope to see you perform again Rich, I hope Jim and Unu come back to rock the house next year too.

RICH: We tour a lot, there’s always something new happening. It was nice talking to you.. I’m going to go watch the band play.

LORI: (Thumbs up) Animal Charm is the greatest! Yeah!

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