Who Am I ?
1: Who am I?
Who is Brendan Sullivan/DJVh1? No one of great significance.
2: What do you do and what project are you currently working on?
Actually, I’m not sure what the rule is on talking about it, but my literary agent just got a first offer on TEXTS, DRUGS & ROCKNROLL. It’s my nonfiction manuscript about a shy kid from Connecticut in Lenscrafters glasses who moves downtown thinking he’s going to discover the next great rockband. To be honest: he was a bit sexist. He thought he’d pick four boys with great hair and stick them in a room until they wrote the perfect song that made him less lonely. Then the lead singer’s girlfriend got pregnant and they moved to Pennsylvania. Instead, I started DJ’ing and putting together parties with my friends in the Lower East Side and eventually started working in pop music.
Really? Yeah, but I finished writing that in November. It really bothers me when you follow someone on Twitter and their profile reads like, “model, actress, photographer, motorcycle mechanic.” I come from a very hard working family and I respect other people’s professions and you’d never see someone’s twitter say, “Executive Chef, building inspector, marine biologist.” Having said that I had a really productive month. I DJ’d on “The Kings of the Club III ” mixtape series, RockPaperPhoto Gallery just bought a series of my prints, I wrote the cover story of a British iPad magazine about Andy Samberg (he’s so nice!), I got back from a killer tour in Europe, I have a scene in “How to Make it in America” and today I found out that the French Magazine L’Optimum just bought my story about drunk dialing. Last month I placed second at The Moth and I’m in talks about developing a miniseries. These really aren’t different things to me. I’m a storyteller. (That’s why they call me Vh1.)
3: Where are you from and where are you going?
I’m from Connecticut! My parents are awesome. Not interested in getting anywhere, at least not on purpose. As my 1994 sixth-grade yearbook quote says, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.”
4: Who is your biggest hero?
That’s easy; my big brother Jay Sullivan. We literally don’t have a single thing in common. He’s a big tattooed M.C. who runs a landscaping crew and has two gorgeous children with his wonderful wife (who coached me through every break up since I was fourteen). Having kids and a family is a challenge you have to face every day. What are my challenges? The club I’m DJ’ing at only gave me two hotels rooms? Literally, I was in Switzerland last month and the club didn’t have the bottle of Jack Daniels that goes on my rider and I thought, “Well, this tour is ruined!” But even when I have real life problems, I can call my brother up in the studio and we’ll talk about motorcycles for two hours and I hang up feeling like a million bucks.
5: What book is your bible?
Moby Dick. Herman Melville was actually a really popular writer when he started out. He was the first person to write about cannibals and face tattoos and living in the wild. He wrote another book about whales of the same length the year before and then he sat down for a full year and read the entire bible and the complete works of Shakespeare then he wrote a gajillian page masterpiece about the sea. I have a sperm-whale tattoo on my arm (like Ishmael!) and for a brief and ill-advised period of time, I read the Cetology chapter to figure out what kind of whale my girlfriend would be.
6: What are some things you love? And some things you hate?
Love: I love everything! My friends joke that I have this Disney-outlook on life, but it keeps me happy. The first time I played Winter Music Conference in Miami in 2008, I was like road-boyfriend trying to get all the back up dancers’ luggage and costumes to the hotel. Our singer was stuck in meetings. Everyone crashed out and complained because we had two shows and then we had to fly to Los Angeles to shoot the video three hours after the last one and I was like, “Are you kidding me? Why sleep in our rooms when there’s a topless beach in front of our hotel and interscope gave us each fifty bucks for food? Do you know how far that goes at Johnny Rockets? Ohmygod, milkshakes and fries!”
Hate: Whoa. Uhm. Nothing whatsoever. I’m a happy little Disney Pr– Okay I’ll confess. Meeting with publishers is like one long, unending J-Date. You spend the whole time being like, “How can you possibly want to know anything more about me after 610 pages?” It’s exactly like dating. Peter Piper Publishers isn’t interested in you and never even returns your calls until someone at Pickled Pack of Papers is into you. It’s cute. But like I said, I have a lot of respect for hard work and dicking around over an expense-account dinner has nothing to do with writing. I come at it like music. I call my manuscript my “demo.” Writers are such pussies so everyone tip-toes around you. I want them to know that I work hard and do the best I possibly can on my own. But there’s a difference between The Vanilla Tapes and London Calling.
7: What is your raison d’être?
I’m just along for the ride.
8: What is your favorite color?
There’s this place in Vieques where the dinoflagellates in the water spark when you touch them. If you canoe out into the bay in the middle of the night you leave a wake of electric blue. And when you dive in the water you look electric like the birth of a superhero.
9: Who is your favorite comic book superhero?
It will always be Batman. Every other great hero was put upon or some kind of freak. Batman was just a rich white guy with a sick car who lived in a big house in Connecticut.
10: What is your favorite NYC hot spot?
Whenever I’m in need of a breather or I’m with someone and I want to get away, I take the Vespa up to the 79th Street Boat Basin.
11: What turns you on?
Momentum with short, well-timed bursts of acceleration.
12: What would the last question of this questionnaire be if you were the one asking?
Q: Where are you going to go from here?
A: I don’t know just where I’m going, but I’m gonna try for the Kingdom if I can. I’m not in it to become the biggest DJ in the Lower East Side or the best magazine-feature-writer or the funniest guy at the dinner party. Comedians and short-story writers and DJs and producers always have this thing where they have a daily struggle to beat out some other kid. Then instead of doing the hard work or getting practiced or going to another rehearsal, they’re crying at home with a bottle of Old Crowe because some blogger said something snippy. And I don’t want to do that. What a waste.
One day Brendan Sullivan was standing on the corner of Ludlow and Rivington in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He was in the middle of telling a story when the singer of Death of Fashion walked by and said, “Don’t believe a word he says. He’s a story teller–that’s why we call him VH1.” Thoreau said, “Our only true names are nicknames.”
Overseen by Jillian Mercado
Questions by PMc Magazine
Edited by Meaghan Coffey
Photography by Brendan Sullivan
Design by Jillian Mercado
Contact Jillian Mercado if you’re interested in becoming a “Who Am I?”
Brendan Sullivan, 2011, Photography by Brendan Sullivan