Clubland hails the video star

Rachelle Thackray meets a 20-year-old who is dancing his way to success

MULTIMEDIA ENTREPRENEUR Robin Weallans is, like his near-namesake Robin Williams, a performer with both talent and appeal. When in Russia, he attracts fan-mail. And in Indonesia, the bouncers at Jakarta's largest club were so impressed with his video projections that they left their posts and sneaked into his show, a move for which they were sacked en masse.

Mr Weallans - a shaggy-headed 20-year-old, whose mischievous exterior conceals a frantic, hard-headed talent - chuckles as he recalls: "I had to sign all their T-shirts."

Why all the attention? It could be the result of stubborn hard work reaping success from crushing financial failure. It could also be his eye for a blossoming market. But underpinning all this is a combination of technical wizardry and an ability to keep a young, sophisticated and discerning crowd of clubbers happy.

Advertisers targeting the 16-24 consumer goldmine have only just begun to realise the throbbing potential of the clubbing industry. But Mr Weallans is only too well aware of it. He now employs eight staff, mostly British teenagers, to run his ventures abroad, including several large clubs in Ibiza.

He is amused by his success. "I had two friends I'd known for ages, and I was at a party just before A-level results time. I said to these lads: 'Why don't we just do video?' And we did."

In his early teens, he used a family Omega computer to create cartoon characters. When he was given a camcorder, something "clicked", he says. He was already assiduously collecting images and video clips. But it was a failed career as a pop guitarist that sparked his current success.

"I was in this band, and I'd always thought bands were very boring live. We had a drummer who was a much better juggler than a musician, and would insist on juggling halfway through the set. You can see why it didn't take off."

Coming back from a recording session, Mr Weallans stopped off at a U2 concert in Cardiff, and was hooked by the potential he saw in multimedia. "There were awesome displays of video," he recalls. "They had a link to Sarajevo, and then they tried to call up Margaret Thatcher. It blew my mind."

He had already applied to the Prince's Trust for money to buy a projector, and the next step was to convince a bank to give him pounds 40,000 for a Glastonbury gig he had wangled. "I was 19, with no credit history, and I was a new kid on the block, with only one small screen. [Glastonbury] was the biggest tent in Britain. It was like going to an Odeon cinema and saying you had a lovely big TV, were they interested?" He pulled it off at the eleventh hour, creating a cult mix with clips from Thunderbirds.

But the work did not flood in and he still had a big debt to pay. Fortunately, a Ministry of Sound scout spotted him and invited him on tour. Working around the world with the club taught him some valuable lessons. "It was the first time I had to be branded. They are very protective about how they portray their name, and the rules are different. It was pretty intimidating. But they're good at backing people from nowhere."

In a small market - he reckons there are less than a dozen serious competitors - he is already building global networks. "The industry's a bit volatile, and a lot of the time you're dealing with people on the end of a phone. It's not like selling insurance. The whole idea is that you make videos which complement the music. The human body doesn't just have ears; it has eyes. It's a complete experience. Most other people record their stuff, but in my case, it's all live."

Mr Weallans is keenly aware of the possibilities for his art; on the internet, in clubs abroad, and in advertising and sponsorship.So far, he has done well, but it remains to be seen whether he can create a sustainable advantage by thinking strategically. All the signs are that he will. "You learn not to think small," he says. "Also, I've learned not to give up by any means. That's where most people go wrong."

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

Technical Support Analyst (C++, Windows, Linux, Perl, Graduate)

£30000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global leader in trading platforms and e...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice