First things first… I hope you’re all well and staying as safe as you possibly can during the pandemic, we are all experiencing this together. ❤️☀️
Now onto my main topic! It is with great pleasure that today I’m ‘blogging’ about my new cover video! Hooray!
In these blogs I chat about all the behind-the-scenes stuff you’d never really get to know about, unless you joined in the studio/video process with me. This way it kinda means you’re on my music team and involved in the action too… and not just involved in the final viewing bit at the end!
With this in mind, (and my storyteller cap on) here we go. (Channeling my inner J.K. Rowling! )
About a month ago, I was running at the gym… nearing the finish line, sweat beading from my face, heavy breathing, (about to pass out… ok I digress ), when this record came on the radio (‘Blinding Lights’ – The Weeknd). It helped boost me over the finish line. Certain records have a funny way of boosting your energy/mood, don’t you agree? I remember really loving the melody of the record but not understanding the lyrics fully in this upbeat energetic form. For me, the ‘singer-songwriter style’ lyrics are sung with a beautifully deep haunting message. Not a ‘get you pumped at the gym’ positive uplifting banger as the record would suggest. So, there it was. An idea, a spark, a thought, a difference in approach/opinion… whatever you want to call it. This was my first thought for creating an acoustic reinterpretation of the record.
A few weeks later with 45 mins spare space in my diary one evening, between online guitar and vocal lessons, I started creating this record in my studio.
Lets go ‘down the rabbit hole’ with maybe just one paragraph, for anyone interested in the studio process for the record. Proper musos… here we go! My studio process started with building the acoustic guitar framework to hold up the already solid vocal melody. Building the guitar picking style was great fun. Once this was complete, I took a view on how I would interpret the lyrics and melody. I made no changes to the lyrics, but made some small changes to the vocal melody, specifically for the first word of each chorus. I felt adding a four-note run instead of a long drawn out note would be more effective with the haunting style of the record I aimed to create. Have a listen yourself & see if you can hear the subtle differences.
Finding the perfect shoot location. Not dissimilar from the first part of the behind-the-scenes story, the inspiration for the video came to me during a run too. With lockdown 2.0 in full swing, I hit the icy cold streets to run instead of the nice warm gym. I often run with my buddies Stevo and/or Sam. On this particular run, we were aiming for around 3.5 miles ish. Which isn’t bad considering at the start of the year I was barely running for 1.5 mins before stopping, now to my delight (and much effort/sweat) I can run up to 4.6 miles without stopping.
So, we are running and decide to take our usual route down by the river. It’s a bitterly cold day, approx 2 degrees. My legs, fingers, ears, (you name it) were numb, it was that cold! But we simply just kept running and slowly we warmed up. The interesting product of low temperatures around water is mist. Haunting, thought-provoking mist. You see how my brain works?! In that moment of clarity I knew this was the location for my deep, thought-provoking and haunting version of the record. Immediately I said to Stevo mid-run… “we should shoot a music video here.” Steve replied “Smoke on the Water?” and after singing Smoke on the Water back to him, I exclaimed; “hell yes!”
Filming the video. The following morning with our alarms set for ‘far too bloomin’ early o’clock’ we (Steve & I) headed to the river. Prior to this there was a great deal of planning on my part and naturally an insane amount of battery charging etc, but I won’t bore you with the tech details. We accessed the river via a little restaurant/function room in Evesham called Raphael’s, Hampton Ferry. If you’re local, you’re likely to know this location well. I had the pleasure of playing a little private party there in the summer and remember having a little ride on the chain ferry for a laugh before my show. Funnily enough that same ferry’s path across the river was directly behind me in the video. So that’s where we were located.
Let’s set the scene. It’s 0 degrees outside. I think it’s not an exaggeration to say that’s quite cold. Steve usually wears shorts everywhere, even in winter (Sorry Stevo but, you know its true!!). Today he chose jeans thank goodness and rightly so! We set up the shoot, meaning stools to sit on, I worked out the shot lighting, etc., then I turn my Canon DSLR camera “ON” but… it didn’t actually power on. I tried it again, a second time, a third. But nothing! We change the battery and still nothing. It turns out the morning of the shoot is when my half-decent canon DSLR decides to give up the ghost and is no more. Typical isn’t it… the thing you want to do is not always as simple as you’d planned. But from experience I’ve learnt, that’s life… we either resolve and rise above it or… there is not going to be any music video to share with you, so what did we do? Resolve it!
This is a great place in the story to interject and say… if anyone has a Canon camera they’ve had lying in a drawer for years and want to donate it to the cause, please do feel free! I won’t say no and you would have saved me hundreds if not thousands in replacing it. Ok… now back to it!
So, how did we resolve the issue?! Well, by using my iPhone. Yep, thats right… my iPhone! If you like the quality of this video you too can shoot a similar style video on your phone. With the right know how. This is often my message to young inspiring artists, “there are no barriers between you and releasing your music.” If I can shoot this little “1 take stye video” on my iPhone 8 plus… so can you. ❤️ We shot in 4K 30FPS and on auto as a point and shoot. However, I would recommend anyone shooting like this to lock the AF (by holding the screen till a little lock icon comes up) which we didn’t do for this particular shoot (AF = auto focus).
We managed to shoot this in under 45mins which was brilliant considering how cold we were! After just a couple of test shots, we were away and onto trying to get the best “one take” we possibly could. After we successfully captured the main footage, I flew my drone over the river. The drone was exactly one metre from the water surface… (#danger!) That’s how we captured such a haunting and intimate introduction. I’ve flown the drone many times and almost every music video I use it in, it’s extremely close to danger. I’ve flown it off a boat in Barbados (extremely sketchy), over a pool in Portugal, over the sea in Croatia…the list goes on. It will be a sad day when I loose the drone but thankfully so far, the risk has been worth the reward.
After the shoot, we ducked into our favourite little Evesham based coffee house, Brew Bear for a warmmmm coffeeeeee. That was probably the single best coffee I’ve had, there’s something about the freezing winter and warming up with a coffee. Anywho, check them out if you’re ever local (as many of you already have). You won’t be disappointed.
So, with no stone left unturned… here it is! The video… have a watch! If you’ve already watched… well, watch again why don’t you?! While I’m demanding things of you, please do feel free to share this with your family and friends. If everyone who reads this shares it with one friend this cover would eventually reach more listeners than the original… how quaint would that be!
Together over 6000 people viewed the video on facebook in less than 24 hours. That’s actually mad isn’t it?! It’s astronomical in fact! To put it into perspective, that would be two large theatres worth of people. Or one large stadium full of people! It’s absolutely nuts & I love it!
I actually stayed up late the night of release and tried to respond to each and every comment. Some on the main post itself, some on people’s post shares, some private messages. If you were kind enough to send me a message of support and I didn’t manage to respond… a huge wholehearted thank you from me. It’s so nice to release music and have people resonate with it.
Can you help with my 2020/21 goal?
It is my goal to become recognised as one of the UK’s leading guitar & vocal teachers, teaching beginners through to advanced training with signed/unsigned industry professionals.
If I can help you with online guitar or vocal lessons, or anyone in your family/friendship circle; please do get in contact. Message me!