Eye Can Groove

What does a South African living in Australia do in his spare time? The DJ with the given name of Nick Bertke, but just known as Pogo, has for the past four years done something that other DJ’s haven’t—he has been mixing and scratching with not just music, but also with images. As Lewis Carroll put it to Alice in her Wonderland, worrying about going around crazy people: “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat, “We’re all mad here.” Forgive Pogo if his grin resembles the Cheshire, for all of the studio protests (like those of Sony Pictures) over his use of images (his song “Bangarang” samples Spielberg) resulted in a YouTube user insurrection, where so many uploads finally prompted a hault to the attempts to pull his video-electronic-trip-hop trax.

Best known for his Disney Alice in Wonderland video/song “Alice”—which sounds less like Jefferson Airplane’s Alice take and more like Radiohead swallowed Bjork (which could happen given the right set of circumstances—a swan outfit, a stadium concert and some Dogma filmmakers spectating). The experience of watching “Alice” is a bit like a greatest hits version of the film—the lush animation, the beautiful characters and the old Disney charm all come rushing back, with newly anointed Alice singing like some Japanese anime character. It’s a sample of a clip of a loop, and you end up coming back to it because, well, it’s really good music (and music will save us all).

Pogo is pushing and pulling at the boundaries of video art, music and animation. It was only a matter of time before the remix came to movies and long gone are the days of watching Pink Floyd matched up to the Wizard of Oz—today’s electronica scene wants something a lot less mellow and with a lot more bass. Pogo delivers, and does it in his own Napster-like dugout (www.pogomix.net).

The artist focuses primarily on animated films and children’s movies (e.g. Snow White, Harry Potter, Toy Story). More recently, Pogo created a remix of the movie Up, titled “Upular,” in a track that captures both the soul of the film and the spirit of a true laserdisc jockey. He spent his young adult life (22 is starting to creep up there in club years) putting together mashes of dance, house, hip hop, drum and bass and soon started adding clips from musicals and PlayStation games. In high demand by ad agencies, Pogo tries to stay grounded in his core music creation identity, releasing his first remix of the real-world (called “Gardyn”) in 2010 and having scheduled a 2011 DJ tour in North America. You probably don’t need Pogo to jump at a club, but if you want to walk around with a little more bounce in your step, keep on the bleeding edges with your eyes peeled for what is poised to spring next: video mash ups leading to a future where we might have the first backhanded box office compliment: “It’s a great film, but you can’t dance to it.”

– Gabriel Leif Bellman