The key to continued success for any DJ lies within constant evolution. What were once just two turntables and a mic became two CDs and eventually one laptop. However, Video DJ Chris Landry is now spearheading the latest movement in deejaying, combining audio and visual into one experience.
Chris Landry started spinning in 1988. Raised on a healthy diet of Punk and Hip-Hop, Landry first began as a multi-instrumentalist in Punk and Rock bands. His knack for percussions and strings led to the desire of combining those sounds. “To me listening to the Dead Kennedys was almost the same as listening to NWA or Boogie Down Productions,” he says, “angry and aggressive with something to say.” Deejaying became a natural extension of that desire to blend sounds.
While getting started on the club circuit, Landry was dividing his time as a music industry executive. As A&R for Profile Records and Funkmaster Flex’s Franchise Records, Landry eventually started his own company Sure Shot Recordings. At Sure Shot, Landry was responsible for the release of some of Hip-Hop’s biggest acts like Talib Kweli, Ghostface Killah, Rakim, Freeway, and more. Slowly but surely, the cataclysmic changes in the music industry led to Landry pursuing deejaying full time. “The record business is dead,” he explains. “You can’t make money selling music anymore.”
Already having a heavy hand in deejaying, Chris saw a technological shift in turntablism about three years ago. Incorporating a video element enhanced the club experience tremendously. He began video deejaying, which adds video to any spinning occurring on the 1s and 2s.
“When I started video deejaying 3-4 years ago, I thought everyone was going to start doing it. Not that many people did,” Landry admists. “A lot of deejays are stuck in their ways because video deejaying is a lot more work. Buying and downloading your own videos is a lot harder, editing your videos is a lot harder. It’s more intricate, takes more effort. He continues, “It adds a lot more to the atmosphere and a lot more excitement to any room. When another DJ goes on after me I can feel the energy of the room slip.”
Video deejaying doesn’t just mean playing a music video. In many cases for House and Electro music, videos don’t even exist. That’s where the creation comes into play. “We like to have special videos that the people in the club haven’t seen on TV or YouTube,” Landry says. “We’ll take a popular song and take a video and make it more exciting and interesting.”
VJ Chris Landry has delivered his futuristic style of spinning to clubs across the country. A resident DJ at New York City’s famed Webster Hall, Landry spins Thursday nights and often in the 2000-person Grand Ballroom. His monthly residencies at Providence’s (RI) View Lounge and New Haven’s (CT) Alchemy also witness Landry’s new school approach to turntablism. In addition, Landry has performed for crowds in NYC’s 1Oak, Green House, Tammany Hall, Le Suk, Mr. West, Taj, Avalon, Butter, Snitch, and Katra. For Miami: Mynt, Love Hate, Pawn Shop, and Rok Bar, even Las Vegas’ Rok Vegas most New Years Eves with a 360-degree screen wrapping around the entire venue. When clubs are not equipped with video, Landry provides his own projection screens. “It’s the next level to deejaying,” he states. “I have been deejaying so long that I’m trying to separate myself from anyone else.” When he’s not rocking before thousands at a club, Chris Landry is the opening DJ for Guns N Roses. How’s that for diversity?
While deejaying remains a staple in nightlife, VJ Chris Landry continues to be one step ahead of the game. As he brings a heightened level of energy to the art of turntablism, he has only one goal in mind. “I aim to see people waving their hands in the air and screaming having a great time,” he states, “and keeping them all there until four in the morning.”
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