The art of deejaying has, like most other art forms, revolutionized in the twenty some-odd years since the internet connected us all and computers became common household appliances. In the process, some art forms have become all but lost for good, like the mixtape or vinyl spinning; damned to a digital mimic of an endangered analog past.
Mark “Viv” Cassel is an Atlanta-based queer DJ better known by most as Vivid, and he’s spent most of this digital revolution away from his turntables. After having moved to North Carolina from Manchester, UK for college in the early 90s, Viv found a home and community with the local rave scene. While his classmates were gravitating towards Dave Matthew Band and Phish, Viv began making mixtapes containing elements of High Energy House and Vocal Trance music.
It was around this time late in college when he came out and not only found an artistic calling in the rave scene, but a community as well. Sexuality didn’t matter too much and people were free to express themselves however they wished, and Viv found comfort in that.
“We were all welcoming a bunch of rejects, who welcomed anyone in need of a safe space.”
Soon he garnered a following and instead of being merely a fan, he became one of the more notable DJs in the area. Utilizing a classic twin turntable vinyl set up, he would layer sounds on one another to create unique vibes and atmospheres for the events he’d play. It was then he moved to Atlanta with his boyfriend began touring and in 2000 released the popular mix Delicate Sounds of the Underground Vol. 2 (available on Spotify & Apple Music).
Though, the extensive touring and straining schedule wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Vivid took over Viv’s life and the traveling put a strain on him and his boyfriend. That, combined with the dwindling rave scene and disappointing homogenization of gay culture in the early 2000s led Viv to leave the scene completely.
For fifteen years, Viv kept a quiet life as an accountant, living with his partner in Atlanta. During that time, the EDM scene exploded into what it is today. With the help of laptops, MP3s, SoundCloud, and more, DJs could share their mixes and perform more easily than ever. Though, as we’ve come to learn, accessibility and tech does not equal talent. There’s no replacement for a live DJ who can read a room and compliment an event accordingly, and that’s what Vivid does best.
It wasn’t until the recent resurgence of queer culture in Atlanta fostered by a community-oriented, DIY, accepting spirit did Viv find the inspiration to bring out his turntables again.
“The queer scene reminds me of the rave days of old which were all-inclusive and built on a sense of love, community and respect,” Viv continues. “Finding queer life has given me a new lease on life and to go back out, get more involved, and do what I love doing: making people dance.”
Looking to the future, Vivid will be performing at Rock The Forest in August as well as some possible festival dates later this summer. You can find him on SoundCloud at VividUK and on Facebook under the name Viv Id.
Tyler Scruggs is a writer and musician living in Atlanta with his partner Mark. When he’s not churning out internet content, he’s paying too much for coffee and buying movie tickets week in advance. Feel free to validate him on Instagram (@Scruggernaut), Twitter (@TylerScruggs), or on Scruff (you’ll know it when you see it).