Friday, 4 February 2011

Face to Face with Adam Buxton

The last thing I would want to do is cause genuine injury to anyone at Shots but their interview with Adam has slipped behind a subscription wall so I'm just popping it in here until such time as I get my dainty wrists slapped. 

Face to Face with... Adam Buxton

25 January 2011

Radio DJ, filmmaker and one half of award-winning comedy duo Adam & Joe, Adam Buxton began the new year with very little prospects but to continue sticking his fingers in pies. One of these pies is BUG, his bi-monthly show held at London's BFI Southbank which sees him presenting creative YouTube video picks with hilarious comments left by the online community. Here, he tells us about the idea behind the show, how he was "instrumental" in saving BBC 6 Music, and his unique delivery.
Tell us a bit about BUG and why you started it...

I was asked to host BUG by David Knight and Phil Tidy who set it up along with Chris Blakeston and Louise Stephens from Ballistic Events. They'd seen me host a couple of Antenna shows as my media twat character Ken Korda and said they were going to try to carry on the good work that Vez and Jordan had started with Antenna at the BFI, but wanted to know if I'd be up for doing it as myself. I try to stay away from straight presenting jobs but thought it was worth a go. 

I loved Antenna and the idea of being regularly involved with a new music video showcase was too tempting to pass up. Also whereas as Antenna was very pure about keeping it just about the music videos I've been able to wedge a few other odds and ends into BUG, like the odd net nugget, insane YouTube comments and the occasional video of my own to give the show more of a comedy angle on top of all the amazing creativity in the videos.

How effective is YouTube as a means of communication/entertainment?

Thoroughly. It's about as pure a realisation of the creative and democratic potential of the internet as I can think of, though as with everything else online, it's easy to be engulfed by the shite and you need to know where to look for the good stuff. That's why I'm so excited about doing a BUG playlist on a regular basis. If people pick up on it I think they'll enjoy it as much or more than any comparable TV show I can think of. Plus you can skip anything you've seen before or don't like.

What was it like writing the lyrics for Changes?

I think you're referring to my version of Changes that I did in support of BBC 6 Music last year, because of course David Bowie wrote the original lyrics for Changes you know. When I was writing my hilarious and caustic 6 Music protest version I went into kind of a trance. My eyes began to change colour, my hair started to look like a blonde lavatory brush and my packet grew considerably, the three signs that you are channelling the spirit of Bowie as the Goblin King. It was a very spiritual moment and instrumental in saving 6 Music I believe.

What's your favourite music video at the moment and why? - Good song, clever special effects, cool guys. The perfect music vid.

You've got quite a unique delivery on the channel, how does it differ from radio and which do you prefer?

When you say 'unique delivery' I'm assuming you're talking about my links for the BUG playlist on YouTube. I must say the phrase 'unique delivery' sounds suspiciously like a euphemism for 'rubbish' but I'm sure you mean 'charming and brilliant' so thanks, that's very nice of you. Well, the radio is great because you're not quite so self conscious but BUG is by nature a very visual show and the chance to bring our favourite elements of the live experience to YouTube is what the playlist is all about. 

I hope we'll do more and get better at doing them but in principle I think it's a format that suits BUG perfectly. People have talked about us doing a TV show but getting music on TV is a tough nut to crack and the glory of the YouTube playlist is that you get to make something quickly and cheaply with no interference from anyone else, then put it out immediately for whoever wants to see it. In my experience that just isn't possible on TV.

Would you agree that you're an innovative performer who embraces technology?

I would agree yes, although a fuller and more accurate description of me would be: an innovative, dazzling and supernaturally gifted performer, juggler and pastry chef who embraces not only technology but losers, hurt animals, men who aren't good at sport and women of all kinds.

Tell us about the biggest thing that's ever bugged you...

There was a big guy conducting a loud mobile phone conversation on the seat opposite me on the train the other day. It's hardly an original gripe, but as a regular train passenger it's something that continues to be the thing that bugs me most on a regular basis.

What's been inspiring Adam Buxton recently?

I saw a film called World's Greatest Dad the other day. It stars Robin Williams and is directed by Bobcat Goldthwaite who was the guy in the Police Academy films who spoke oddly and looked like the Tasmanian devil. Doesn't sound promising, does it? But it was a peach. Robin Williams is a loserish teacher and single father who aspires to being admired as a great writer but isn't much kop.

His teenage son is incredibly loathsome and one day dies when a bout of masturbatory auto asphyxiation goes wrong. Somehow the tone of the film is kept just right and it all manages to be both very funny, moving and not at all as bleak as I feared it might be. It inspired me to become friends with Bobcat Goldthwaite and avoid dangerous wanking practises.

What are your hopes for BUG's future?

I hope we can continue to reach a wider audience by travelling to sexy and exciting foreign destinations. We've been to Amsterdam a couple of times and we had a wonderful time doing a show for the Vimeo festival last year in New York, which the audience seemed to love so I really hope we might get back there again but it would be great to do BUG in LA, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Tokyo - anywhere that excitement and sexuality are foremost in the population's priorities. 

In the meantime, apart from our regular BFI nights we've got shows lined up in some of the sexiest and most exciting places in the UK. Leicester in February, Manchester in May, Edinburgh in August for the festival and I'm sure we'll do a few festivals over the summer too.

What does 2011 hold for you?

I try to make it a rule to begin every new year with absolutely no prospects whatsoever. Actually it's not so much a rule as just the way things seem to work out, but as long as I have fingers I will continue to stick them into pies. BUG is my tastiest and most reliable pie in which one finger is always stuck, but I'm hoping to have some more 6 Music radio pie, either on my own or hopefully with Joe later in the year. 

I always have a few fingers stuck in TV-shaped pies but they have a habit of getting stuck and sometimes bitten off by the creatures beneath the crust. OK, that's enough of that metaphor. Apart from all that I continue to do the odd live show where I show my videos and sing some of my ludicrous songs. The Adam & Joe Song Wars Volume 2 album is out so I'm expecting quite a lot of fame and wealth to come my way because of that. 

I heard a rumour that Prince is headlining Glastonbury this year, but I'm hoping the Eavises will come to their senses and give me and Joe a call and we can step in to provide them with a properly memorable headline act for a change. Also I'm going to try to get back on Twitter and join in rather than being grumpy and taking the piss out of it. In fact that goes for everything else in my life too. It's January though. Get back to me in December and we'll see how well I've done.

Check out the BUG music video YouTube channel at


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