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
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
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

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Carlton Senior Appointments: Sr Wealth Manager - San Francisco - Inv AdvisoryFirm

$125 - $175 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Senior Wealth Manager – In...

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum