January 27, 2023

Derren Brown

Derren Brown likes to keep things simple (Photo: Shutterstock)

The illusionist and author, 51, talks about embracing his technical failures, screenless cameras and CDs.

How technical are you?

I like low tech and hard buttons. I have a home theater and I said, ‘Can it be big, good buttons? Like ‘on’ and ‘off’?’ I don’t need a remote control that also does the blinds and security. I hate all that. I have 1970s intercoms at home and I like the phone but I turn off notifications.

What is the most important technology in your show?

Sound. Acoustics. I could play for 3,000 people, but hearing only the first few rows feels like I’m rehearsing for 20. When the sound is just right – and the audience can hear me clearly, and I can hear the audience – it makes such a difference.

What technology do you take on tour?

I’ve been using a Kindle for 15 years. I still read good books, but I’ve embraced the ebook for touring. I don’t have the current Kindle because they have gotten really big. The fun of a Kindle is putting it in your pocket, so I still use the Oasis.

Leica M10-D camera

The Leica M10-D has no screen, so you can’t keep checking your photos (Photo: Leica)

And your favorite technology?

My camera. Fifteen years ago I splashed out on a Leica and it was awesome. I have since published a book on street photography [Meet The People With Love]. I’ve owned a few Leica cameras because they are a joy to use. My favorite is the M10-D. It’s a digital camera but there’s no screen, so that keeps you from looking all the time.

Have you ever had a technical glitch?

Anything that makes a show feel more present and not just a rehash of something that happens every night is really helpful. So I like those times when a mic picks up or the projection cuts out.

What is your most important home technology?

My coffee maker. I have a red La Marzocco Linea Mini. Like the Leica, it’s low tech that does something simple well.

A red La Marzocco Linea Mini coffee machine

Wake up and smell the simple things done right (Photo: La Marzocco)

Space invaders

Derren had a handheld version of Space Invaders as a kid (Picture: Getty Images)

Earliest technical memory?

I had a small handheld Space Invader game and an early video game called Pong. There were two joysticks attached to a plastic hub that you could connect to the TV, and you could play simple games of table tennis.

What technology would you bring back?

I develop an attachment to things that I have had for a long time. I rediscover old CDs. There is something beautiful about the experience of browsing an index.

Is there a tech involved in your tricks?

There are smart electronic gadgets that, if you are a working magician, can do amazing things. I wouldn’t use it because what happens when a thousand people stare at you and the batteries die?

Derren Brown: Showman opens tonight at the Apollo Theater in the West End, runs until March 2023, derrenbrown.co.uk

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