The Little Airline That Could – Our Flight on Plastic Jet Airline

studioI had the exclusive opportunity to sit in on one of Plastic Jet Airline’s live streams in their Ballard home studio. For those that aren’t familiar, Plastic Jet Airline is an online only, live streaming music venue that has hosted numerous Seattle artists. Composed of three audio and video experts, the trio uses a wide variety of gear, both modern and vintage to produce an organic and refreshing product. Matty P and Kevin Fuller were able to provide some history and hopes for the project after a late Friday night session.

NWMS: First of all I really wanted to know where the idea to do this came from?

Kevin Fuller: Uhhh, I guess that’s mine isn’t it? Me and Matty P and a couple of other friends of ours played in bands for quite awhile, since 2007. And we got to know a lot of other groups and it seems like people we thought were good groups, that we enjoyed listening to didn’t really have any venues to play. I mean, it’s not that they didn’t but they just weren’t great options. They weren’t genre specific bands and it seems like it’s hard for venues to capture what we thought was great about playing in bands was playing at house parties which is what we’re into a lot. Just a lot about banter, a lot of user presentation and a lot of musicians swapping and playing in other people’s bands. And then we thought let’s use technology and stream it.

Matty P: It was really just an idea for a couple of years and then Charles was like “hey, I’ve got the space and I’ve the technology.” And that gave us something to work on and then Matty really got to a lot of work with it.

studio 2NWMS: So this is Charles’ house?

Matty P: Mhm.

Kevin Fuller: So yeah, we talked about having house parties and having bands play. And it was about just under two years ago we started projecting and put it more into words like let’s have bands play and we’ll film it.

Matty P: We were like “let’s film it and show the whole world our little space that we love more than anything.”

I’ve been working with Charles since October of 2013. We mentioned somewhere along the way what we wanted to do and he was like “yeah, just do it here.” So our first one we found two willing bands. We set a date. Our first one, we couldn’t really figure out how to do it. We couldn’t figure out how to do multiple cameras at once. And we went everywhere. We went to Apple, we went to Target, we went to Best Buy and nobody knew how to help. Somehow we eventually found ustream and that was our platform and we kinda started figuring it out. And we went out and bought three cheap web cameras and hooked them up to my laptop and then we used Charles’ nice recording gear. And we did our first show, we didn’t even have enough bandwidth to put it out there. Our internet signal wasn’t even that good, so the first show wasn’t even broadcast, it was just recorded. We tried to broadcast but it shut down every 30 seconds.

But we still did it with three really cheap webcams and we did it downstairs. And then the next one we did it down here, we still used the three webcam situation. Then we got Charles to figure out the necessary technology to go from the camera to the computer. And then every week we just started doing everything a little bit better.

Kevin Fuller: And those first few shows it was just people playing in front of webcams. But those cameras really made all of the difference. I remember the first show that we did, that we used the good cameras. It was Sam Russell, our third show. I remember I was home  in Oklahoma and I was watching it live, just jumping up and down with excitement. I remember the close ups on his face and how good it looked.

And Sam Russell, he’s a really emphatic singer, he’s got so much character. He sweats and spits and it just looked great.

studio 3NWMS: Why do you guys film in black and white?

Kevin Fuller: Makes it look better.

Matty P: That was Charles’ idea. The first two we did were color and Charles mentioned he wanted to do it in black and white.

Kevin Fuller: Luckily we saw a couple shows like that and I wouldn’t have wanted to have it any other way. I thought we were unique that we were the only show to do that but then I discovered there’s another show in Portland that uses very similar camera angles. And they were very good, they were probably a little more professional than us. Not sure if they’re still going. I forget their name, something that’s evocative of Portland.

NWMS: You guys do two shows a week?

Matty P: Lately! Lately it’s been like that. Originally it was do one a month for a year. And we did that in February of this year. And now bands started reaching out to us and I was like “screw it!” I’m off this time of day. I think at our peak it was about two a month. Now we’re peaking because we’re doing a lot.

NWMS: What would you say your turnover is? As far as uploading to youtube.

Matty P: Average is about a week. Sometimes that night, it maybe takes an hour or so. I’ve gotta work tomorrow morning and I edited videos from Tuesday already today. So yeah, it usually takes a week. But you can watch the video in its entirety on ustream. The editing is just to make it look nice.

NWMS: Anything else for the good of the order?

Matty P: We want beer sponsors. Rainier. Mainly for the bands to drink, just to be donated to the cause. As well as lump sums of cash. We drink a ton of Rainier so that would be awesome.

Or whiskey. If we could get Jameson.

Kevin Fuller: I guess one of the main things that presses me is that every band that comes in here likes the video because they don’t have very good videos of themselves. And there’s a reason for that, video is a really tricky little knot to solve. And we’ve solved it and we can actually make them look good. And to me that’s one of our biggest accomplishments. We’ve put a lot of time and money into this. And Charles, he’s put in a ton of time.

Matty P: We want Amazon TV to buy us out. Or syndicate us. We’ll do this for Amazon, Youtube, Netflix. We’ll “Wayne’s World” it. Beer sponsors. I’d prefer the Wayne’s World approach. Party on!


Check out the Plastic Jet Airline channel on Youtube HERE

Alex Stanilla

Alex Stanilla is a writer from Lebanon, Pennsylvania now residing in Seattle, WA. He enjoys cats, pasta, live music, coffee and donuts and trying to write about all of those things. You can catch him at a show or the bar or the bar at the show where he'll somehow find a way to compare whatever band is playing to Elliott Smith. Find him on Twitter at @Kanga_rooBoy

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