Self-described as a mix of cyberpunk, 16-bit and classical, Joe Greathouse brings you on an experimental nostalgia trip as VCR5. Greathouse is the guru of DIY music. With inspiration coming from old video games and films, Greathouse produces and performs from a stack of old VCRs and videocassette tapes rewired to work as instruments. His recent DVD release, Rainbow Selection—in part with the album—is packaged with an instruction manual that explains how users can hook their ER-1 up to their DVD player to sample any one of the 28 VCR5 songs.
Greathouse has played in metal bands and was a percussionist in high school, but he now performs electronic music/cyberpunk, involving visual and audial elements. Part of the nerdcore subculture, VCR5 upcycles samples from old videocassette movies: “An old cassette tape, the longer it’s survived, the better,” he says. Additionally, VCR5 offers simstim—simulated stimuli—transmitting both the visual and sonic vestiges of a videocassette in a reimagined amalgam of intersecting sensory properties.
“That’s the whole idea: You take a VHS tape, but you reintroduce this modern element and approach it in a unique way,” Greathouse says. “It makes it almost magic or occult—almost like a new relevance or a new frame of reference into the whole piece.”
From experimenting with nontraditional instruments—like hooking up microphones to a coffee grinder and drum machines—to rudimentary circuit-bending, VCR5 has grown into a full-on, improvisational experience wherein no two performances are the same. Greathouse compares his practice in VCR5 to mixing records. Now, he has culled about 30 different samples from different movies into VCR5’s latest release, Rainbow Selection. What’s more, the DVD component of the release provides an interactive experience in which users can learn how to mix video samples on their own.
Thanks for listening to SLUG Mag Soundwaves.
- This podcast was created by SLUG Magazine and produced by Angela H. Brown and Secily Saunders
- Associate Producers: Alexander Ortega, Joshua Joye, John Ford, Kathy Zhou
- Executive Producer: Angela H. Brown
- Background music by VCR5
- Soundwaves logo and art design by Nicholas Dowd
- Technical design by Kate Colgan
- Photo courtesy of VCR5
SLUG Magazine’s mission is to provide an honest journalistic alternative to mainstream coverage of arts, music, events and lifestyle. SLUG adds value to lifestyle through community engagement. Available in print and digitally on SLUGmag.com.