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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
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

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?