While covering Ultra Music Festival in Miami last weekend, we had the opportunity to catch up with Vello Virkhaus, the founder of V Squared Labs (http://vsquaredlabs.com/project/ultra-worldwide/) and official VJ of Ultra since it’s inception. Mr. Virkhaus was recently named #35 on Rolling Stone’s list of the top 50 people in EDM to date. What followed was a candid discussion about his past, present, and future projects, along with some of the more intimate details of how the amazing visual production at Ultra comes about.
TMN: Vello thank you so much for coming and speaking with us at The Music Ninja. Our readers are really interested to hear about what you’re doing and where you’re at. So first of all, how’d the show go today?
Vello: Everything is running really smoothly and it’s great to see the vortex come to life. I happen to love vortexes, they’re a personal favorite.
TMN: Now what do you mean by Vortex exactly?
Vello: As a visual artist, this stage. The designer who created it made it in kind of a radial array that recedes in space, so it has an effect that’s like a tunnel almost, which we call a vortex, or wormhole, which has a lot of movement. So it’s a really complicated surface and it’s awesome to see it mapped out. I’m really proud of our team this year. On an engineering and deployment level, we’re pretty small scale for a large festival like this, which has been good. We have more room in front of us, which is nice.
TMN: How did V Squared get started up?
Vello: I guess my first big entertainment project was with Korn in California. So Korn got me in to doing more concert visuals for rock bands…EDM actually lead to Korn, and then Korn went back to EDM so we’ve all been spinning in strange circles with people like J Devil coming out with his whole, evil-self, dubstep thing and being progressive. So it’s a nice circle. So we started there and it’s been growing slowly every year.
TMN: You have an art background correct? You went to Kansas City for a while I think?
Vello: One year there, and then I had my little rebellion, and then I moved to Chicago and went to the art institute there. So yeah I did my tenure, climbed the pole to my bachelors and then went in to post-production.
TMN: You had some other projects prior to V Squared as well?
Vello: Well, we really started in Ultra with Rabbit in the Moon. They were our first collaborators, and that brought me to Florida. And through Rabbit in the Moon, and Dave, and all the original people who were in this scene, they brought me to Ultra and brought OVT, our first company, in to do visuals. It’s been a cool growing process. So, from the beach to here, on the yacht, is like a time warp almost.