We Are S.M.E

[SME MEETS] Dynamo *Exclusive Interview* by wearesme

Dynamo is arguably the best close-up magician around, having performed to some of the biggest stars in the world. He has performed for the likes of Tinie Tempah, Paris Hilton, Example, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg and of course SME!

Dynamo, born Steve Frayne, grew up on Bradford’s Delph Hill Estate, one of the most violent and deprived estates in the north of England. He first learned magic from his grandfather and developed it during trips to New Orleans.

As word spread about his magic tricks he soon found himself performing on the celebrity circuit for stars like Paris Hilton and Busta Rhymes. He released an independent DVD called ‘Underground Magic’ featuring celebrities such as Coldplay, Gwenyth Paltrow and Snoop Dogg. The DVD generated considerable press in the UK and lead to appearances on shows such as Richard & Judy and a Channel 4 special ‘Dynamo’s Estate Of Mind’.

He followed up ‘Underground Magic’ with the release of the DVD called ‘Concrete Playground’ and his popularity only continues to grow. Most recently Dynamo worked with Panasonic on a promotional campaign for the TA1 Camera, which saw him performing for a host of musicians and DJ’s; all of which he documented using the Panasonic camera.

This week SME were delighted to have the chance to sit down and have a bit of a chat with Dynamo about the year gone by, the year ahead and his taste in music.

You’ve had a pretty hectic year. Were you busy working over Christmas and NYE or did you have time to head back home and put the cards away for a bit?

I had all 5 days off. I headed back home on the 23rd until the 28th and spent most of my time with my niece and nephew, they are both about 1 years old. When you are doing magic to one year olds, they don’t really know what’s going on, but they can follow tricks. Magic can impress anyone no matter how old they are.

I remember my grandad used to do stuff which I’m not sure if you would even call it magic or just bar stunts, but he used to use it down the pub to get free drinks and all that. He used to absolutely amaze me, he still amazes me to this day and that’s purely because of his charisma and his character, he’s so in touch with what’s going on around him.

Is he where you got your inspiration to start using magic then?

Yeah kind of. He was the person that supported me when I decided to take it on as a career. He showed me the first ever tricks that I used to do and it wasn’t to perform, as such, it was to get me out of trouble at school. People used to pick on me, they used to pick me up and put me in wheely bins and he showed me a technique to take away their strength so that they couldn’t pick me up and put me in the bin – it was more of a survival tactic. So from the things he was showing me and from what I was going out there and doing, I got a taste for it. I used to have a sort of urban legend/myth going around my local area that I had some crazy powers.

By the time I got to college I pretty much ended up paying for it through doing private gigs and shows, stuff like that. I was inundated with more work through my magic then what I was actually working towards at college. When I left, I travelled to America with my grandma who’s got 19 award winning golden retriever dogs. We used to travel around doing dogs shows and every town that we went to she would get me bookings at the dog show after parties and stuff like that. It’s not as glamorous as the stuff I do now but back then it’s how I earnt my stripes.

Now another year has passed and you’ve further established yourself as the best up-close magician around; what did you focus on to achieve this and what was your highlight of 2010?

Yeah, that’s what I’ve been trying to do. Towards the back end of last year I was focused on the Dynamo TV collaboration that I was doing with Panasonic so I was doing a lot of work on that. We filmed the last episode with Ian Brown and the winner of the competition that we ran, it ended up being the 7th most popular video on Youtube on Christmas day.
At the start of the year my videos were getting a lot of views on Youtube and by the end of the year I wanted to pass that 1million view mark, which I did on the Dynamo TV account and my own personal account at the end of November. So the master plan has kind of fallen together now.

It’s a weird thing. My highlight of 2010 was when I was in Abu Dhabi at the Formula one at the Yasalam Festival and they took me and all the other artists out for a meal at Cipriani’s. Im good friends with Richard Branson’s son, Sam, but I hadn’t met his dad before and they ended up in Cipriani’s when we were there. After we had all finished our meals Sam came over to our table and asked me to go and show his dad some tricks, I wasn’t going to say no! So, I went over to their table and bearing in mind this is a packed restaurant, after I had performed some stuff for him, Richard Branson got out of his seat and started bowing down to me and says “get your camera phone out”, so I got it out and gave it to Sam and Richard literally stayed there bowing on the floor, so I’ve got a picture of Richard Branson bowing down to the king of magic!

It’s my photo of the year for definite! It’s one of those things where, I get reactions off people all the time but he had to physically stand up out of his seat and move chairs out of the way to bow down to me. It was quite surreal.

Our personal highlight of yours was the private show we were invited to at Juju for Dynamo TV and our favourite episode of the Panasonic collaboration was the one with Tinie Tempah. What was your favourite episode of the project?

Actually, the trick I did in that episode with the sunglasses on the front of the album cover (below) is my favourite piece of magic that I done last year. It was the perfect piece of magic for the perfect setting because everyone knows that Tinie has always got his sunglasses on, so you rarely get to see his eyes. So that’s probably my favourite episode too.

And what was it like being on stage with Tinie Tempah?

You know what, it was a bit of a blur. I remember running on there and Tinie sort of got me I a head lock, you know when someone puts their arm around you and everyone is jumping around, so I was in a headlock with Tinie for most of it and he was just singing lyrics into my ear. It was just a bit of an adrenaline rush really. It was one of his better shows too because the momentum of that tour picked up so fast, the last six months or so of his life has gone from doing underground stuff to doing stuff worldwide. He just seemed to pass that tipping point so easily.

Tinie seems like a really nice bloke; have you kept in touch since the show?

Yeah Tinie and me have been good friends for a while now and it’s great to see what’s happened to him. The guy has worked so hard and he totally deserves it. It’s good to see, not just Tinie, but a lot of the UK acts that have been grinding for years starting to get the recognition and support that they deserve.

What sort of things do you get up to when you aren’t wowing people with your trickery?

Well with magic, it sort of becomes a 24-hour business, I’m having to work on it all the time. When I’m not performing I’m usually editing the videos. But I’m also very into music, I like live gigs and stuff like that and I spend a lot of time hanging out in studios with my friends who are up and coming or famous artists.
I’m addicted to FIFA, there’s nothing better than a day chilling in bed just playing and getting beaten by all my twitter followers online. I tell them that I won’t use magic to win so I’ve got to play fair. But, you know what, probably the best thing for me when I haven’t got work on and have some spare time is to head back to Bradford and see my family and friends because I rarely get to go up, I probably go once every three months and because they aren’t down in London they don’t get to share all of the excitement or the moments of my career. Luckily, I capture them all on film so when I do go back to Bradford, we probably spend the first few hours on my laptop watching all the videos of the past few months because I’m constantly doing things I kind of forget how much stuff I actually do, so when I go back (to Bradford) and go through it all, it’s like “wow, I captured three months worth of footage”.

You must look back on what you’ve achieved so far with pride?

Yeah definitely. Especially as 7 years ago I nearly died. I’ve got Crohn’s disease, so I’ve got problems with my bowels and I was in hospital for nearly 6 months. Before that I used to perform a lot and do magic but, I never really documented it or took it that seriously but that was kind of the moment (being in hospital) when I was like, “right when I get out, this is what I want to focus on”. When I got out of hospital, I put together a business plan and I went to the Prince’s Trust who gave me a start-up loan and I bought a laptop and a camcorder and that was when I made the first ever magic mixtape DVD, it was probably the world’s first. It featured people like Snoop Dogg, Coldplay, Ian Brown and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was just nuts. Imagine having your first mixtape and doing collaborations with all these big artists, it kind of just blew up from there, to be honest.

Your mentioned earlier that you are a huge fan of music; who would you say is your favourite artist or band?

My favourite group is Linkin Park. I love a bit of rock but I also like Hip Hop and their older stuff has a good mix of the two. Although recently I have been listening to a lot of Random Impulse, he’s kind of got the same thing going on with the UK grime and rock. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Wiz Khalifa. I guess I like quite an eclectic mix.
I love a bit of dubstep as well. But Skepta and JME are probably favourites from the UK grime scene. My top 6 would be: Skepta, JME, Sway, Dizzie Rascal, Tinie and Dappy from N-Dubz – he’s a sick MC even though most of their stuff is chart based you can still see the talent through all that.

What was the last CD you bought or downloaded?

The last CD I bought was Devlin’s album ‘Buds, Sweat and Beers’ and the last download was all of Random Impulse’s EPs. It’s funny because I remember about 5 years ago I bought a random mixtape of someone in the street, it was two CDs, one was Hip Hop and the other one was grime. The grime CD was wicked. It turned out this guy was Random Impulse. Basically, he takes an existing track, remakes the beat from scratch on his guitar and spits a 16-bar. He’s literally created his own kind of style with grime and rock and he does it in such a way that it doesn’t feel too contrived.

What would you say was your favourite album of last year?

There were a lot of good albums out last year, but Tinie Tempah’s definitely has to be up there just because it was such a good first ablum. The only problem was that by the time the album came out, a lot of the big tracks had already been rinsed, like Frisky. My favourite track on the album, though, is Wonderman. Tinie calls me the womderman so I claim that song is about me. JME’s Blam is another great album from last year and B.O.B’s album was pretty good too.

What are your plans for 2011?

I think, is going to be a good year. I have a lot of stuff planned and a lot of stuff that I can’t really talk about just yet. I’ve just signed some deals, which should see some new videos coming out soon on Youtube. Also, I’m going to be working on a few bigger things because everyone wants me to do stuff on stage, my manager gets inundated with phone calls for stuff like that. So I might have to put together a show that I can take on tour. I have to think about how I can take the essence of what I do, which is so raw and organic and put that onto a stage without alienating the audience because I like the feel that the audience is there with me, experiencing things with me. So that is something that I definitely want to think about, I have a few other projects that I am working on before which will kind of lead up to that anyway.

Sounds like another action packed year for you! Now we just have a few quick-fire questions for you to answer.

What team do you support?

Bradford City because they are my home town.

Favourite food?

Grandma’s Corn Beef Hash in Yorkshire pudding, but it has to be my grandma’s, it can’t be just any grandma.

Night out with the boys or Night in with the missus?

Night out with the boys because I don’t have a missus at the moment.

Music or Sport?


Megan Fox or Cheryl Cole?

Both. At once.

David Blaine or Derren Brown?

That’s a tough one. (after a long pause) Im going to have to say David Blaine, actually no because they are both good friends of mine. David Brown!

Nandos or KFC?


Tequila or Sambuca?

I don’t drink so neither

Sweets or Chocolate?


Take me out or blind date?

Take Me Out. No likey, no lighty!

FIFA or Pro?


Drake or J.Cole?

J. Cole

iPhone or Blackberry?


Mac or PC?


Ps3 or Xbox?

I got both but I’ve got PS3 in my bedroom so I will say that.

Finally, if you could have a super power, what would it be?

Ability to turn invisible.

Well, Dynamo, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you. We would like wish you all the best luck for the year ahead and keep doing what you are doing.

Thank you, you guys too.


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