live videos at alex the great
end of the night live at alex the great is out now!!! thank you to everyone watching & sharing. it means the world. if you haven't seen it yet, check it out here.
i wanted to share about how we actually pulled off these live sessions for "words" and "end of the night". they were so incredibly fun to make and i got to work with some of my absolute favorite people. the videos were directed by Joey Brodnax (duh) and featured my killer band -- Boone Wallace on guitar, Wes Rodberg on drums, Cass Gephart on keys, and Connor Ehman on bass. George Seay engineered the sessions, and Boone mixed & mastered them.
the day of the shoot, a cold November morning, i arrived at Alex the Great studios in Berry Hill with an armful of clothes, a tray of McDonald's coffees, and a disposable camera in hand. it was go time!! we began the day with "words".
when i asked Joey to direct these videos, the one thing he was insistent on was that i needed to be very active in the videos. these were not going to be typical live sessions stagnant in front of a mic. so after running through the song a few times to make sure we were all comfortable with the live arrangement (a little more stripped back than we normally play it, with Cass just on a beautiful Rhodes rather than her full setup), we started to block the video.
the studio, Alex the Great, was the perfect setting for these videos. it has a fully furnished bedroom, kitchen, and living room area, all beautifully and uniquely decorated. we decided to use all of these rooms. we began in the bedroom. man, i would kill for the wallpaper in that room. i think that starting the video lying down on the bed to rocking out in a studio really helped to tell the full story of the song -- moving from despair to self-assuredness.
there were a lot of issues that we had figure out fixes for. with my movement, i couldn't wear any monitor headphones, as none of the cords were long enough. i ended up just performing with what i could hear live in the studio. my vocal mic crackled from my movement a fair amount on early takes of the video, so we taped together the mic and its cord to keep it secure. i also needed to make sure i carried enough of the cord with me to walk wherever i needed to without putting tension on the cord. boone and connor both had to figure out how to get down onto their backs and back up while still continuing to play their parts. they did so with flying colors -- even with connor losing his headphones on his way back up in the take of words we actually ended up using!
everybody just had the absolute best attitude toward the day. everyone was willing to step out of their comfort zone to make something really special. there was such a great collaborative energy in the room. when we hit the take we wanted, we all knew it.
we ordered jimmy john's for a lunch break and reset between songs.
when we came back from lunch, we prepped to hit "end of the night". i had another outfit styled for this video (shoutout Anaconda Vintage for the dope yellow collared shirt in the "words" video, and to Buffalo Exchange for the beautiful sequined jacket in "end of the night").
we worked on the arrangement of the song for a little bit, deciding to slow down the song and go for a softer, more sentimental approach. Connor switched from using a bass guitar to his Moog sub phatty. once we had the arrangement down, we walked through the blocking.
the restroom in the studio had wallpaper just as beautiful as the bedroom's. the one issue was that it was quite small, and nowhere for Joey to hide to operate the camera. so, we came up with the only possible solution -- I would operate the camera! or rather, I would be the only one in the room with the camera, turn it to the door, and voila, reveal Cass playing the Rhodes just outside the door. I then crept out of the restroom and let Joey in to allow him to get the camera off the tripod. i mazed my way out through the bedroom and around the back part of the living room to get back to the studio. it took quite a lot of practice and laying down my mic's cord to make sure I could reach everywhere I needed to get to.
somehow, it again all worked beautifully. i love how the change in energy we gave "end of the night" really helped to let the lyrics carry a little more weight. the verses are so much slower than i've ever sang them, and there's a real payoff now when we really start grooving. hearing the mix back from Boone the first time took my breath away. hope it does the same for you. :)
if you dug either of these videos, please send em along to somebody else who might! or share them on facebook / twitter / instagram / reddit / wherever! i love you!!