From Witnessing Knife Fights to Producing Krewella’s Get Wet Tour, Vello Talks About His Rise to EDM Stardom
Much like all artists, Vello Virkhaus is no stranger to struggle and adversity. The CEO of V Squared Labs himself found grinding through life’s gauntlet and rose from the ashes in the EDM scene as the authority behind such colossal events as Ultra Music Festival Worldwide, Coachella, The Skrillex Cell and Krewella’s Get Wet Tour. Much like a diamond, he began his career as an unformed piece of coal struggling to find his form and notoriety. Along his journey, Vello endured many precarious events that shaped this humble human being into the man he is today. EDMSouthFlorida.com sat down and spoke with this modern-day Houdini to discuss the origins of his beginnings and how he began his career in the visual arts.
Genius is smelted together with muses in many forms. Music and installation art were Vello’s muses.
I started my career revolving around classic rock and evolved over to punk rock. In college at the Art Institute of Chicago, I started to listen to early electronic like Future Sounds of London, Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers. I was always the guy first in-line at the record store looking for the newest sound.
“I started my career revolving around classic rock and evolved over to punk rock. In college at the Art Institute of Chicago, I started to listen to early electronic like Future Sounds of London, Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers.I w
After leaving college, Vello’s journey to the City of Angels lead him to a crowded loft and enough wild moments to make Farrelly brothers blush.
After cashing in one of my retirement funds 13 years ago, some friends and I moved from Chicago to a pint-sized loft Downtown Los Angeles. After witnessing a violent knife fight in front our apartment, we pushed open the door to our loft and fucking beach sand poured out. The loft was previously used by a production company to recreate a fucking desert scene! There was paint splattered all over the walls and paint rags all over the sink. I think I slept in a bed on the floor. It was quite the adventure.
Just as Edison didn’t work alone, and Vello explains that there are more moving parts making his machine tick than just his motor. While Vello is the brain that makes the heart beat, he recognizes all the moving pieces that is V Squared Labs.
The Skrillex Cell from Production Club on Vimeo.
Like the Krewella project, we started having meetings in February and we’ve been working for the past seven months. It took seven weeks straight weeks of design work and developed an al carte menu of five different concepts for the artist. We narrowed it down to one specific design and begun working for another seven straight weeks (17-hour days) where 7 people worked on the welding, machine cutting, and fabrication of the Crystal Volcano. Meanwhile, we had another team of programmers, designers, mappers and architects developing the software and molding the LED design with the set design. So we were doing the lighting, the production and the video at the same time which was quite the challenge. Finally, all those moving parts come together at the rehearsal space where we work together and get to see the finished product. This is the most fulfilling part of the whole process, and it’s such a great thing. Krewella doesn’t really know what they’re going to do when they are done with the set. It’s going to go into storage and maybe we’ll inherit a crystal. If they are very successful on the business side, we’ll probably adapt the design to their future projects*.
Making of The Krewella Volcano from V Squared Labs Inc. on Vimeo.
One life lesson that Vello brings to the table that he comes to terms with is that his work doesn’t always satisfy his patrons, but he learns to deal with the outcome and learn and grow from the experience.
I’ve learned to love to work with the artists in the electronic community, and I have found appreciation for their aesthetics and their creativity. Not everyone is easy to work with. Hip-hop is my least favorite genre to work because everything is last minute. The expectations are very high and when things are last minute those are the hardest jobs to do because you just can’t put enough bodies on it. Some people don’t know what they want and not everyone is going to like your work but shit happens!
Vello leaks future projects and upcoming events that will be keep the minds of the EDM fan stimulated and craving more.
On the horizon, we have a Halloween show in New York with Laidback Luke. I am really excited for the show because he is one of my favorite artists right now. We are going to be at Hard Day of the Dead and Escape Wonderland rocking those shows. Last year we didn’t get to the design the stages, but we did all the VJing for the production. Another new thing that nobody has seen yet that is being released at the Amsterdam Dance Festival is the Don Diablo Hexagon component which has an interactive component.
Infected Mushroom Army of Mushrooms Live Show from V Squared Labs Inc. on Vimeo.