June 21, 2009
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
There''s a side to Daniel Peeples you might miss on the first pass. Quiet and unassuming, the 23-year-old comes across as a reticent teddy bear of a guy. But don''t be lulled into assumptions. Put a beat or song idea into his head, and a recording camera in his hand, and mild-mannered Daniel morphs into Dirty Presley, an out-there extrovert on a mission.
With eight homegrown music videos shot around Columbus and circulating on YouTube and MySpace, the West Point native and Columbus resident is developing his craft and venting his imagination. At a glance, Dirty Presley''s gansta-tinged persona resembles a character who may have wandered out of a Lil Wayne video. He''s got the shades, the pose, the ... basset hound?
To those who don''t know him, Daniel''s beloved pet and sidekick, Dumbo, may seem too benign a breed for his owner in full performance mode; but, then again, Dirty Presley''s music videos aren''t exactly what a couple of photographs might imply either.
This clean-cut recent college graduate holds a degree from Mississippi University for Women in fine arts with an emphasis in graphic design. He is a fan of old sitcoms and chocolate milk, and you''re as likely to catch him listening to The Coasters, Elvis or Little Richard as any rap musician these days.
Don''t judge a book
Even the origins of the Dirty Presley moniker may surprise, since there actually is nothing "dirty" about the videos.
"I really like my initials -- D.P. -- but thought, for my music, that ''Daniel Peeples'' was too plain," he explains. "So I picked Dirty Presley because I''m from what people call the ''dirty South,'' and I like Elvis. I''m known for singing Elvis songs at karaoke."
"Daniel is really quiet until you get to know him," is a common theme heard from video veterans and friends.
"I don''t think when people meet me they would expect to see the videos I do," he admits. "People tell me I''ve got a split personality. I grew up bashful and not really talking much in school, maybe that has something to do with it."
That banked creativity has, for the past year, surfaced in his self-produced videos filled with local faces. The original music often germinates from a single percussive beat he locks in on. With the aid of computer programs such as Digital Hits Factory, he builds that inspiration into tunes complete with lyrics. And while it resembles hip hop, it comes close, he says, to falling into a category known as nerd-core -- sometimes referred to as "geeksta-rap."
Daniel and his support team film using a digital camera with video capability.
"I''m about as low tech as you can get, but I try to make it the best it can be with that," he states.
His two most recent projects are the quirky "I Like my Milk with Chocolate" (Dumbo contributed barking for the track) and his latest, "I Wanna Live with the Golden Girls." The short films range from one and one-half minutes to three or four minutes and are cast with fans who, to hear them tell it, would jump at the chance to be in another.
Why the Golden Girls?
"Because I love the Golden Girls," Daniel laughs, "and I want to live with the Golden Girls -- so I wrote a song. The whole thing is to pay tribute to them."
One of the cast isn''t a "girl" at all. Columbian Michael Doughty portrays "Dorothy," the character played by the late Bea Arthur in NBC''s sitcom which ran from 1985 to 1992.
"Bea was kind of a big, tall lady, so he needed someone to fill that role," Michael says. "At first I kind of sat there and thought about it -- but then I thought, ''Why not?'' And I got to do something fun, creative and crazy."
The venerable Betty White''s sweetly spacey "Rose" is portrayed in the video by Allison Cole, 27. Holly Rutledge, 23, is Rue McClanahan''s saucy "Blanche," and Estelle Getty''s sharp-witted "Sophia" is played by Sonja Webb, 32. Cole and Rutledge are recent MUW graduates with art-related degrees and live in Columbus. Webb resides in West Point.
The crew shopped for wardrobe at the Palmer Home Thrift Store and borrowed wigs from Trendsetter Salon before setting out to film in downtown Columbus and on the steps of Jubilations Cheesecakes -- a nod to the Golden Girls'' love of the dessert.
"To me, it''s just like playing dress up," shares Webb. "I love his music, and this sounded like so much fun. Daniel is really quite talented and puts so much work and effort into it. All of my friends have been dying for a chance to be in one of his videos."
Cole adds, "I think he should go into film myself; he''s really good at photography. He uses his creativity in such a humorous sort of way."
Daniel has been heavily influenced by fellow Internet video-maker Leslie Hall; the Iowan has already earned her own Wikipedia page. He hopes what he''s learning will lead to commissions to do videos for others. He gets his first opportunity this summer, filming for a California band who came across him on MySpace.
He describes his work to date as rewarding. "It''s already helped me be better at the creative process -- at framing, organizing an event and making it come together."
The idea for the next project is percolating. It''s safe to say there will be no shortage of volunteers for casting calls.
"Whenever Daniel has a video coming up, we get really excited," comments Golden Girl Rutledge. "I would definitely be in another one; they''re so much fun."
Daniel seems almost humbled by the response. "I have people begging to be in the next video. They say, ''I''ll do whatever craziness you need." And, for Dirty Presley, that -- and a barking dog -- may be all the inspiration he needs.
Editor''s note: Dirty Presley videos can be accessed through www.youtube.com and www.myspace.com/dirtypresley.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.