Monday, October 29, 2012

about dynamo

“Absolutely stunning” Will Smith
“The greatest magic I’ve ever seen” Chris Martin (Coldplay)

On Saturday 25th June 2011, crowds gathered on the banks of the River Thames as an extraordinary feat unfolded. A man in a red jacket was seemingly ‘walking on water’, striding out across the great river under the iconic backdrop of the Houses of Parliament. As pictures emerged, the news travelled fast with initial coverage across the British mainstream media and later, pickup as far afield as China, Australia and South Africa. 

This had been one of the biggest and most audacious illusions in history, on a par with David Copperfield’s vanishing of the Statue of Liberty and Houdini’s great escapes… but this wasn’t the work of one of Vegas’s elite It had been performed by a young magician from a tough part of Bradford who went by the name of Dynamo. 

Tipped as the most exciting British magician to emerge in decades, Dynamo had stunned audiences and celebrities around the world with his genre-bending cocktail of large-scale illusions, incredible sleight of hand and innovative street magic. 

The 28 year-old’s list of celebrity fans now reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the Hollywood elite. Will Smith, Diddy, Jay Z, Coldplay, Russell Brand, Gwyneth Paltrow, The Black Eyed Peas and Paris Hilton are just a few of the names who’ve raved about his unique talent. 

Dynamo stunned Tinie Tempah by pulling a chain through his own neck and amazed US celebrity power couple Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore by eating a piece of string and pulling it down the length of his torso. Billionaire Richard Branson physically bowed down to him after watching one of his performances and Lindsay Lohan was left speechless after he levitated her from a chair. 

Growing up on the rundown Delph Hill housing estate in Bradford with a father who spent large periods of time away in prison, Dynamo (real name Steven Frayne) suffered with a debilitating form of Crohn’s disease as a youngster. Having been introduced to magic by his Granddad, the young Steven Frayne developed his skills as a means to fend off the bullies who teased him about his disease, quickly gaining a reputation as a unique talent within his local community with his incredible sleight of hand. 

Many years later Steven appeared at the New York Hilton during Houdini’s centenary celebrations where he performed in front of his peers, including acclaimed magicians Aaron Fisher and David Blaine. After a stunning display someone in the audience shouted “this kid’s a f***ing DYNAMO!” . The name stuck and a new era in magic was born. 

From an early age, Dynamo was inspired by the impact of hip-hop culture. He was strongly influenced by local breakdancers who fused together a variety of styles and MC’s who promoted themselves through the use of the mix-tape circuit in order to create something new. Steven planned to modernise the magic scene by combining his skills with elements from the urban dance scene. 

In 2004, after moving to London, Dynamo set out to fulfill stage one of his plan; the creation of the first ever magic ‘mix-tape’. Along with a small team he filmed his performances on the streets of London and backstage at events, where he managed to blag his way in front of the stars by impressing doormen and tour managers along the way. 

Although it was filmed on a cheap hand held camera, the results were better than he could have imagined. Within a year, he had footage with the likes of Ian Brown, Mike Skinner, Lil’ Jon and Snoop to name but a few. 

Dynamo was fast becoming the hottest performer on the party circuit. His appearances included backstage magic at the Coldplay tour at Crystal Palace, the Gorillaz shows at the Harlem Apollo in New York and a performance on stage at the TED conference in California on the same bill as Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) and ex-US Vice President, Al Gore. 

2007 started with a bang. Actor Will Smith presented Dynamo with an award on behalf of the Prince’s Trust for his success after receiving a start-up loan from the charity. During his acceptance speech, Dynamo started to choke on a polo mint and without warning pulled a chain through his neck with the Polo attached. The audience were amazed, including Will Smith, who gave Dynamo a glowing endorsement, proclaiming “that man just pulled a lifesaver out of his neck! You scared my son with your magic tricks but that was absolutely stunning!” 

The year continued as successfully as it had started, with a guest appearance on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and a performance on MTV’s EMA’s where he amazed the likes of The Foo Fighters, Nelly Furtado and Joss Stone in front of a worldwide audience of 1.5 billion people. 

In 2008, Dynamo appeared on the catwalk for Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief and flew to LA to shoot an episode of Snoop Dogg’s hit show ‘Fatherhood’. He amazed guests at a private dinner for Jay-Z and performed at his friend Lewis Hamilton’s birthday party. Then, in 2010, he participated in Sport Relief on BBC 1 where he turned signed lottery tickets into cash in front of an astounded Robbie Williams and Davina McCall. 

His debut TV series ‘Dynamo: Magician Impossible’ was broadcast on Sky Channel Watch on the 7th July 2011 and quickly broke all viewing records with over 1m viewers tuning in to the first episode in a slot which normally only commands an audience of 100K, total viewings now exceed 18 million. Series 2 starts 5th July 2012.

The enigmatic street magician is back for another series

The enigmatic street magician is back for another series. Here, he tells TVChoicemore about the show and how he's coping with fame and success… 
What’s new for this second series?
The element of surprise is all gone now because people know who I am, so it’s about how I get around that, and how do I still keep people surprised and entertained. How do I keep that hunger? In music, some people put out a first album which is amazing, and then a second one which is not so good. This is that tough second album for me, and it’s about showing people there’s more to me then meets the eye. The first series was just the tip of the iceberg. In this second series I think you’re really going to see me come into my own.

Has fame affected you?
You can find out in the show. It’s almost a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to go from zero to hero. You see how it can get to me and how I deal with it. You also see me coming to terms with my grandpa [who taught Dynamo his first tricks] passing. I did feel like the magic had died with him, and I didn’t want to perform for while.

Is it a comfort that your grandpa got to see you make it?
Yes. Without him, that first series would never have happened. Obviously, the second series is dedicated to him. I think, hopefully, he’s got Sky or Virgin in heaven and he can watch it.

How have you reflected on your success?
Dynamo, Dynamo
It’s been a crazy year to be honest, but I always had the belief that the show would do well. However, I didn’t think we could hit the kind of numbers we got first time around. I thought maybe it would get a gradual cult following, but it’s kind of skipped a few stages! There’s a lot of pressure on for series two.

One of the tricks in the show last year was great fun, because you made a coin ‘appear’ on a man’s shoulder — but watching it at home, we could all see you put it there when you first met him!
It’s funny the amount of tweets I got with people saying, ‘Oh I know how you do that coin trick’. I purposely left that in, because sometimes it just about sharing something with the viewers at home.

Did you get into this to be famous?
No, I never really had a desire to be famous. There are lots of sides to fame that I don’t really like. I think England’s one of those countries where we’ve kind of fallen into this thing where fame has become an occupation. But I remember back in the day that you were famous because of a talent, because you’d done something great. You ask kids at school what they want to do when they’re older and they all want to be famous — but not for something in particular. I think it’s slightly wrong.

I don’t think we nurture young talent in the right way here. If you think of America, they really push it — maybe sometimes they push it a little bit too hard. But think of someone like Justin Bieber. Regardless of whether he’s for little girls or whatever age group he’s aimed at, he’s one talented individual. He can play most instruments, he’s got a voice, he’s got a look and he knows how to play the game. I don’t care what people think about him, from being in the industry and having a taste of fame, I know it takes a strong individual to deal with all the trials and tribulations that come with it. His schedule must be ridiculous, and he manages to hold it together and make it look like he’s having a good time as well. I like to see real talent get recognised and I’ve never had a desire to be famous. I just want to make a great show.