The first time I met Bravestation
“Canada has given us so many talented musicians. Neil Young…Joni Mitchell…Celine Dion…”
You could have heard a pin drop.
Fortunately I was able to remedy the situation a year later as, taking up my post as Spindle’s Canadian Correspondent in Toronto, I decided to reconnect with my fellow Torontonians, and as luck would have it they were shooting the video for their brand new single right here in the city. So I hot footed it to a top secret location in downtown Toronto, which turned out to be a cleverly disguised artist’s loft, sandwiched between the skyscrapers and the city’s sole branch of Hooter’s. I stepped in and found myself picking my way through a floor littered with bodies…
A bit about Bravestation. They are a Toronto-based ‘quirky pop tribal band’ comprising Andrew Heppner, Jeremy Rossetti, and brothers Devin and Derek Wilson. Having already released a self-produced EP in 2010 that was very well-received, the band set about broadening their horizons and set to work on their first full length album.
‘Signs of the Civilized’ was the first track that resulted from these sessions, and the group decided to use crowd-sourcing to raise funds to shoot a video. An unusual song demands an unusual video; the ‘ambient textures and spaced out guitars’ along with ‘colourful harmonies and tribal percussion’ are a long way from your standard indie band sound, and the concept for the video was the result of three month’s worth of collaboration.
Using funding website indiegogo, the band decided to reach out to their followers to make the video happen. “People are so saturated with Twitter and Facebook. We didn’t want to hassle people for money. It was more about creating awareness than anything else” says Derek.
But after two days they’d only raised $35 of their $2000 target. “At that point we thought ‘Abort! Shut it down! Refund everyone’s money!’” Derek confides. Alas there was no need to worry; in 30 days, donations topped the $2000 mark and ended up totalling $2175, mostly made up of small donations ranging from $25 to $100.
“I can’t believe how lucky we are to have people believe in what we are doing” he adds.
The idea of the tribe became the main concept for the video. As well as the band’s ‘tribal pop’ stylings, there’s something distinctly nihilistic about the dreamy, blissed-out sound and apocalyptic themes of the song. The fact that they had reached out to their tribe of followers is reflected in the cultish nature of the video; it centres on the foursome, sharply dressed in dark suits, being kidnapped and drugged before awaking at a bizarre ritualistic party.
The band’s signature colours of vibrant pink and blue, represented in sinister yet inviting looking cocktails and pills, contrast against the darkness of the suits and the conformity they represent. And with a mass-suicide/mass-murder finale reminiscent of Dynasty’s Moldavian Massacre, this video is quite a dark journey.
“Everything we do is based on rituals…this is sort of a social comment” Derek says.
Naturally $2175 doesn’t go that far – let’s just say certain props and costumes had the tags left on them so they could be returned to the store at a later date – but there was still room in the budget for a vegetable tray and lashings of gin.
I turn up towards the end of three long days of filming. Everyone’s tired but happy and very excited about the results; as Devin is heard to remark to the wardrobe girls from OTMZine, “You guys are making me look cool. I’ve never looked this cool in my life”.
As the night wears on, the direction begins to get more inspired (“Act like you’ve just got a happy meal as a kid” “Why aren’t you singing?”) and the actors begin to get more confused (“Are we fucked up in this scene?” “Shall I get slutty?” “You can’t tell me not to be sexual. I have only one gear, and that’s sexual.”).
Finally, after shooting the final shot of the party-goers dead/asleep on the floor (I reckon I spotted some people snoring) everything draws to a close ‘round midnight, and after the obligatory group photo, we all wander off into the night for a well earned pint.
At Hooter’s. But that’s another story.
You can check out the finished video below. Bravestation’s debut album Giants & Dreamers is available on July 10th, and judging by what we’ve heard so far, it’s going to be a must-have summer soundtrack.
You can also check out some behind the scenes pics, courtesy of Andrew Williamson.
Thomas Dearnley-Davison is Spindle’s Canadian Correspondent. You can follow his insane trans-Atlantic ramblings on Twitter @such_doubts