When MTV launched its television channel in 1981, music and images came together and changed the music industry forever. Kids were hooked – the first thing they would do at home is turn on the TV and watch music videos for hours. To celebrate the power of images, we talked to Larry Tee – one of the original Club Kids – about how MTV influenced kids of his generation and asked him to share some of his favourite music videos.
What’s your first memory of MTV?
Well, when my friend RuPaul dissed comic Milton Berle the night of the Award show saying he should be wearing a diaper. Seems he treated her bad backstage, as if she was a hooker because she did drag. Also, watching Club MTV dance show was always fun for me. I always liked artists that were visual, so MTV made music cooler for me.
How did television influenced the music world?
I was a DJ and a VJ at a new wave club then, so when the first clips came to our club, it made the music seem even more intense. When I started my own band now Explosion which included guests like RuPaul and Lady Bunny, we definitely pushed the visual and performance aspects to the front. It definitely made making music more fun for me. I was happy when artists put away their guitars and performed crazy. I always liked the crazy visual artists; the Bowles, the Queens, the B-52s. MTV pushed these artists because visuals became important.
Do you think some bands were born thanks to MTV?
When MTV stopped playing music videos and concentrated on reality TV, I think music suffered. But every once in a while, a new artist would break out from a cool video, like Lana del Rey or GRIMES. But now, I think people don’t want to support music artists. iTunes killed the video star, I think. People didn’t have to invest in buying music, so they don’t get as attached to artists anymore.
What are your 3 favourite music clips?
Perfume Genius – GRID
Rupaul – Supermodel
Anohni – Drone Bomb Me
What do you think will be the future of music videos?
The future? Vertical music clips? I already watch MTV standing on my head, so all videos are verticals now!
By Helene R. Hidalgo