I can’t say enough how great Street Chant are– as a band, as people, as artists. I, for one have been waiting for these two songs to be released since hearing them live months ago. And now these two videos (comprising a double A-side 7″ available via Arch Hill soon) enhance the potency of the songs even more.
Directed by Levi Beamish & Produced by Adam Thompson
Street Chant are Emily Littler, Billie Holliday, and Alex Brown. We spoke this afternoon about the process of making the two videos.
STV: When did you make the vids and how long did they take? Were the directors friends?
EL: Both took less than a month I think, or maybe around a month and a half from talk to the directors about our concepts to completion. The directors weren’t friends, I still don’t even think they have met – we had a premiere party but one of them had work so couldn’t come.
STV: The two videos have a totally different aesthetic– sleek and polished digital video and VHS analog. Can you talk about the experience of the tapings? Did they feel different when you were making them?
EL: New Zealand has an arts funding scheme where bands can send demos in and get money to make videos and songs, and we got one of them for Frail Girls (even though it was recorded in the same way as Salad Daze). When we decided to release the both at once it was pretty clear one was more commercial, plus we liked the idea of doing Salad as VHS (even went an bought a VHS camera and intended on doing it ourselves, but it didnt work properly), so anyway we decided to put all the money into Frail Girls.
Its shot in a big white professional studio and there was camera people, lighting people, a massive lighting rig, make up artists etc etc. So it did seem like kind of a big deal compared to what we were used to. We shot it over one long day, after they had been there the day before setting everything up. It was a really long day and my cavegirl costume was held together by safety pins and it kept falling off.
With Salad Daze it was completely different, we went into a big warehouse above the studio we record at and just filmed with Damian who used to be my flatmate. He had a big table full of gear and we had a basic concept and idea for the feel. We bought heaps of props from the supermarket, and I convinced Alex we should have some red cask wine as a prop. I ended up getting quite drunk and in some of shots I have quite bad red wine mouth.
Then Alex and I had found this brand new suburb, sort of like something out of Poltergeist which we thought might be good for the second half of the song – which seemed to have a creepy but sunny feel. So we hired a generator and went down there for the day where Damian used a lot less gear, and the gear he did have started breaking. He got one head of one of the machines to start working and we did it really quick. Alex and him drove around with the generator in the back seat of Alexs car to try and get some hip hop type neighbourhood moving shots, and the car filled up with smoke, they were both green when they came back from that shot.
Both were quite different to make but didn’t seem it, I guess New Zealand is so small that even when you do stuff in a studio its always people doing favours and you know most people there.
STV: Why didn’t the VHS work for you guys? Did you give the director the footage?
EL: It was just a crappy VHS player and we bought a really shitty usb converter and when we tried to convert some shots after testing it out, we realised we were kind of in a bit over our heads – since we wanted the videos to be done so soon. So I knew Damian and called him and asked him if we could borrow one of his cameras, he said he would rather be involved since the cameras were on their last legs and all require special tricks to get them to work, and I remembered another video he had done and I really liked it so he just became the director then and there, it was a bit of a relief. His cameras were all broken and stuff, but I think thats what gives them their own uniqueness especially with the colouring. Its a bit different to just the standard VHS look I think. But then he put it all through a desk as well after so thats probably it too, I don’t really know enough about VHS.
STV: Appropriately, it sounds like Salad Daze was a more Salad Days in spirit. Sounds like that one was more fun. I love those kinds of projects. But they both look great, congrats! I gotta get one of those 7″s I remember being so bummed that I couldn’t hear those songs after hearing you play them live. Both of them have been in my head for months!
EL: It was a bit more relaxed because there was no studio deadline, or people being paid by the hour etc, but Frail Girls felt almost similarly DIY just because the director and everyone were all so young, it was like “how did we get all this gear and studio and make up people?!”