Ashley Banjo on his Tamagotchis obsession and TikTok dancing
The dancer on what makes TikTok tick, Canon vs. Sony and the joy of Retro.
What was your top gadget growing up?
Not the coolest thing but I was obsessed with Tamagotchis. There’s something still cool about retro pixellated images. I know we’ve got HD and 4K now, and that’s amazing, but retro tech is still king for me.
How smart is your house?
We’ve got Amazon Echo Dots everywhere but we’ve also got an Echo Show with a screen so when you’re cooking, or if I’ve got the baby in my hand, I can say ‘Alexa, play Cocomelon’ [a YouTube channel of nursery rhymes], and boom! I rely on Alexa a lot. She basically lives here with us.
What gadgets do you rely on every day?
Aside from the obvious phone and laptop, I’ve got a Blueair HealthProtect air purifier that really gives me peace of mind, especially during Covid. Clean air, hygiene and health are a top priority for me.
What do you make of TikTok dance trends?
I feel it’s encouraged people to be creative. Instagram is much more polished and curated but with TikTok, it’s broken down to real people being a bit silly in their front room.
Why are people more willing to let loose on TikTok?
It’s a meritocracy. If you’re funny or genuinely talented, or have something interesting to say, or do something cool, you’ll get likes. Whereas Instagram is less about discovery – you follow who you like. It’s a different vibe.
How involved do you get with stage tech?
I’m involved from the ground up and seeing the advancement in the tech has been incredible. Ten years ago, when we were asking for projection mapping, it was considered a bespoke piece of tech that would only be used in the most high-budget performances but now it’s quite easy. People projection map images on to their houses for Halloween.
What kind of tech can we expect at your next show?
In the tour we’re about to do, Connected, we’re looking to build an interactive app where the entire audience can decide the direction of the show. It’s all dependent on internet connection and wi-fi speed, though. We’re on our devices all the time so why not bring that experience into entertainment?
Are you into photography?
I’ve got a brilliant mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS R. I’m Canon over Sony, I prefer the interface of the Canon, even though Sony has incredible autofocus. I love Polaroid too, I feel there’s a trend back towards disposable cameras as well. I love that element of surprise, of not being able to tune the shot in settings.
What tech do you use in the studio when rehearsing?
We use a super wide-angle GoPro Hero 9 Black Max so we can see the entire studio. We have some brilliant speakers. We use the KRK Rokit Studio Monitors – they’re really bassy and are used to monitor music in studios. So sometimes when we’re listening to music, especially orchestral pieces, you hear extra details.
How do you listen to music?
I love the Powerbeats Pro – they come with a neat charging case and always stay connected. I don’t want to have to keep re-pairing via Bluetooth. There are better headphones for sound but connectivity is the most important.
What’s the last piece of tech you bought?
I got a new car the other day and all the cables are USB-C. I felt like the tech had shifted in front of me, looking at my old USB cable and thinking how chunky it seemed. It was like when you hold a floppy disk and you see you’re on a boundary of a technology shift. I love those moments.
Banjo has teamed up with Blueair on the launch of air purifier HealthProtect. See blueair.com.
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