Drake AV Club: Mike Reynolds

Posted by Jen McNeely, August 05, 2016

Drake AV is a collective for emerging video artists. We've already introduced you to Chloe Brouitt, and now want to invite you into the weird and wonderful mind of AV club member, Mike Reynolds. "Staying up late with the right kind of people is a good idea," says Mike, who enjoys surfing online, but prefers "bonding" with physical media.

Getting inside his head is a wild trip that may inspire you to go reexamine your collection of dusty VHS tapes, or take a razor and splice them up.

What made you apply to the Drake AV program?

Years ago I played a few shows in the Underground that were well received. At that time I was performing booze fuelled marathons of live video cutting, consisting of contorted closeups of the Ultimate Warrior from WWF and the floating head of Zardoz. The music was always great and the crowd was responsive. Those nights were personal victories.

I joined Drake AV because I'm learning to value my work in different ways. For a long time I've been the party boy that makes weird video stuff. But it's always been just that: "Weird video stuff". I could probably be a bit more eloquent when describing something I'm really passionate about.

Also my studio space was really isolated. I managed to get a lot done, but there wasn't a community to speak of. It's really nice to be part of a monster squad. Everyone in at Drake AV seems really eager to collaborate and work on new ideas.

What, in your opinion, makes a good video?

Something that is truly good is something I can watch on repeat. I love revisiting something and discovering another angle. Symmetry is big for me as well. But I'm a moth to the flame, man. I'm the kind of guy who likes big blinkly lights and loud noises. I like almost everything. It's a curse.

Aesthetics aside, the videos that stand out are the ones that are well thought out from front to back. It's obvious when people throw filters around in an attempt to make things more interesting. Remember that Beyonce video a while back? Where someone decided make the screen all wiggly and put a "PLAY >" in the corner? We've all developed a pretty great bullshit filter for this. All disciplines of film should fear and respect their audience's instinct. Everybody can smell it.

What inspires your work?

Digging for tapes. Like recently I found one called The Rapture: A priest and his wife give you in empirical breakdown of how to avoid getting your soul sucked out of your body as you sleep. A friend of mind recently donated a Sea Doo promotional VHS from '92 that helps you find the right Freedom Machine for You. I get off on watching someone's mom's bootleg of Beetlejuice to find that spot where she forgot to pause the recording for the commercials.

Sure you can find a lot of this stuff online, but I get a real bond with the physical media.

I feel like a portly Indiana Jones telling people what belongs in a museum. It's a weird thing working with nostalgia. If you dig deep enough you start messing with things that lie in people's memories. That's where I'm trying to go.

It’s not all humour though. I had a pretty big breakthrough on a documentary this summer. We were working with a woman with early onset alzheimer’s. I was projecting her home videos around her house, trying to image map her memories into the space where they happened. I had a moment there.

Who are your favourite filmmakers? Or artists that have left a great impression on you?

Peter Suschitzky for cinematography. Nobody can deny John Carpenter as a director or musician. I’m pretty sure we’ll discover that Alejandro Jodorowsky is some kind of trans-dimensional anomaly. Astron 6 are some local film dudes who make some pretty hilarious and violent schlock. The team who made Turbo Kid seem pretty awesome.

I’ve always looked up to Jimmy Joe Roche and Anthony Francisco Schepperd. Much Music’s Electric Circus era is a well I keep returning to. I’ve got reverence for personalities like Tom Green. Anyone who released straight-to-video content in the 90’s has my ear. I love TV Carnage, instagram accounts like SlurpTV and sites like Lunchmeat VHS.

What in Toronto fuels your creativity?

Coffee with weirdos at Mercury Espresso or The Sidekick. Working local shows like Feast in the East or just jamming at Hitch or Handlebar. There’s a few places have been real supporters over the years.

Staying up late with the right kind of people is a good idea.

Can you share with us a recent lesson you learned? Be it educational /technical or more of an overall life lesson

I can oversimplify this and say “DO THE THING”. Expand your comfort zone! If you’re afraid of doing something, there’s probably a reason. Do the gigs that are scary.

What show are you currently obsessed with? Or have been obsessed with lately?

I can’t put down a comic called Space Riders. Any music by Todd Terje. Old Toronto era drum ’n bass. Stranger Things.

What pop culture shows/characters shaped your childhood/youth?

Russell Oliver. Very Roger from The New VR. Lucas from The Wizard, Teddy Ruxpin with the tape deck, Mad Martigan, Fraggle Rock. I should stop now.

What can we expect to see from you airing on Drake TV?

100% analog psychedelic oceanic travel at 60fps. Probably someone trying to teach you to juggle your hat.

I’m planning a pretty stylish lifestyle piece on parties held in the Underground.

Summertime goals?

I’ve got a music video coming out soon for Germaphobes’ “Like a Ballet”. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Thrift Shop Dead Drop is a project of mine that’s coming to a close. It involves stashing secret VHS mixtapes in thrift stores around the world.

My wife and I are opening a bar in the east end. Broadview and Gerrard. It’s called Farside. I’m currently in the back room trying not to inhale any more of the varnish. We should be open in the next few weeks. Almost everything is DIY and there’s going to be a big focus on video art and art in general. There’s talks of life drawing, synthwave nights and good beer. It should be a lot of fun once I open the door and get some people in here.

Be sure to follow Mike on Instagram on one or all three of his accounts: href@damn.aykroyd @thrift.shop.dead.drop @farsideTO.

Meet Dill in Mike's creepy video entitled "Married Girls", or cliff dive with Mike in his dreamlike/haunting Campocalypse.

Have we intrigued you? More info on Drake AV collective here.

Posted in: People

Tags: Drake Art  Drake AV  Drake TV  Mike Reynolds  profile  video art