JUST CHUCK, By Kian West / by Kian West


Sitting out the front of Core Espresso one cold Saturday afternoon, I enjoyed a brief moment with Chuck, freshly woke because he was on nightclub time, and by the end of the chat so was I (Woke that is). I think you will enjoy this one.


 Okay, you're at a festival on the other side of the world, and you meet someone new, and they're like, "Chuck, what do you do?" 

How do I represent myself? Oh, well, I've kind of accidentally travelled the world and upon that I've really learnt the value of connecting with people. I've learned the value of how everybody is unique and special and individual and how we all have something really excellent to offer. And I've kind of learned how to leverage that to just keep spinning further and further and deeper and deeper into bigger and better things, you know?

So, it's like just kind of being a really sick cunt, and just like making that work for you, you know? I like to think that I'm a kind of strange out-of-the-box not so usual kind of person but that understands how to connect with what's happening and what part of me to share and what people really want to see. Not just saying I'm changing, but people want certain things and certain things make people happy and how do you make people happy? That's the goal of what I do.

That's a very politician kind of answer.

I want to get along with everyone, man. I want everybody to have a really good time.

I love that because often people confuse the question of who you are with what you do.

Yeah, it's not what we do for work that necessarily defines us. It's what we do in these interpersonal relationships that makes us who we are. How you act to another person, that's what you are. Yeah, I go press buttons and make the dance floors go crazy but how does that inform who I am? I'm a rhythmic person, you know? There's a drummer inside of me that likes the patterns and the rhythms, but I also like the patterns and the rhythms of relationships, you know?

See, the funny thing about what I do for work is that you have to be first and foremost an artist, but you also need to be an engineer, like a really, really nerdy engineer/technician that can fix strange problems and know the inner workings of systems and codes.

But also, you need to be this social being, as an interface between the DJ's, the club owners, the venue, the venue managers, the other artists, all these different things. You need to be this go-between. You need to be this person that can connect up the dots.

That's one of the reasons why being a VJ so to speak or a visual artist is so unique, is you have to wear all these different hats, and you have to wear them all very well. It's a rare kind of breed that I've discovered. I haven't met too many people out there that can really do it.

Chuck Just Grottle

So, how do you explain what a VJ is to someone? Unless you understand electronic music culture or...

In the most basic sense, I do what a DJ does but with visual elements. So, a DJ takes MP3's and songs and mixes them and creates his own art out of that. I use videos and pictures and colour and movement and that sort of thing to do that as well. 

So, it's just translating - we're all scraping to that centre. There's some glowing nugget in the centre of the universe that is this flow state, this artist's brain, and we're all - dancers express it through their bodies, you know what I mean?

You get your guitarist who can express it through their use of the scales and notes and stuff like that. DJ's are using tracks and the vibes of the tracks and how the crowd reacts to create a dance floor and do part of the dance floor and then on the decks musically as well for what you're listening to. The VJ is doing that with your eyes and visually and saying, "How does the music feel?"

There's this thing of synaesthesia. That's one of my core words. It's one of my important words of translating a feeling into another feeling, and it's, "What does the music feel like? What does the music look like?" Like, when that base hits, what is it visually that's just going to make it snap and just make it better?

Because we all know you can dance in a dark room with no lights on and that's fine, and you can dance in a room in with no music on and lights on, and that's a different experience. But when you combine the two, there's this whole soul/body interaction thing that starts happening, and the music comes alive, and memories start being made, and your brain is making connections that are long-lasting and important, and I don't want to say life-changing, but things can happen on dancefloors. I've had some experiences with dancefloors.

Chuck in the mix Grottle


Are you old enough in this scene to know when mobile phones stepped onto the dance floor?

100%. Dude, I've been DJing for nearly 20 years. I've been DJing since the year 2000 or 2001, so I've been DJing for 17 or 18 years. I've been doing visual work - actually even before that. We don't need to get into the history, but I discovered the visual stuff before I ever discovered dance music and so those two things were always growing together. 

I was a part of dance floors and stuff before there were phones everywhere. I was aware of the music connection before we were so lost in the connectivity in our hands and our pockets. It's a different sort of thing.

People reading won't be able to capture this, but your accent isn't from Newcastle.

No, it's not. I'm originally from the States. I've been here - actually about a week ago, I moved here 7 years ago.


Yeah, it's pretty good, man. It's been a really good ride.

Chuck Grottle

How did you end up in Newcastle?

Well, as soon as I could leave - I grew up in - I was raised in Chicago and then as soon as I was able to go anywhere, I escaped the cold of Chicago and...

Like, it wasn't cold enough.

Yeah, as soon as high school was done, I moved to Hawaii. Then I went to Hawaii, and I was there for the better part of 10 years and was so happy and complacent and satisfied that I thought maybe that was just the last stop. It was so good that I just didn't think I would go further.

Then through a course of events, I had an opportunity to come to Australia in kind of a long-term sense. An opportunity to kind of go and live in Australia and it really shook me out of Hawaii. I was in this Hawaii bubble. I honestly thought I might die there. 

Then I was shown this opportunity to come and move here, and I just had these long think about if that's the right move and really was turning it over. Then all of a sudden, I was like, "Wait a second, yeah, just do it."

I've never seen - the way that Newcastle functions as a community is so special. The way that artists and musicians and any sort of creative here in Newcastle - sometimes people idealise Melbourne and stuff like that, but really, Newcastle is nowhere like it. We have access - I can walk everywhere. I walk to work, I walk to the grocery store, I walk to where I want to be. All my friends are within walking distance, and if they're not, you can do a quick bike ride.

People get lost in Sydney. Nobody gets lost here and that, to me, is a very Australian thing. Our population is smaller, and we do know each other. People don't tend to get lost. We value those interpersonal connections that really knit us all together, and that’s my favourite thing about Newcastle. We all do know each other. It's hard to meet a stranger in Newcastle, a true, true stranger. 

What's personal Chuck-time?

I've been doing kick-on TV late at night, just trying to share the audio and visual side of things. Like and share on Facebook: kick-on TV.

who else in Newcastle do you think Mirage needs to know about?

Sol(omon Wilks) is really great. He's worth revisiting that guy. He's got some cool stuff cooking. He's a good unit.

That's the thing. You never know where that next epic greatness is going to come from. There's always somebody that's hiding there, that's got some cool thing. I think as a community if we can uplift and support and when there's something cool happening really give that a good push. It's got to come from the ether from somewhere around us, like who is next? Man, I don't know.

Not me. Bring it on. Who wants to learn how to do visual stuff? Who's got a creative eye? Bring it on. Come to join the team.

Hot tips with Chuck. Thank you.

Cheers, buddy. Pleasure.

Find Just Chuck on Soundcloud, Facebook and @Chuckstagram on the ‘gram.

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