Urgh! Has it really been this long since we’ve cobbled together a “video jukebox” offering for your eyes and ears to enjoy in unison? We’d love to feign surprise and blush on cue but, considering that we already incriminated ourselves in the refreshed quest to round up Champaign-Urbana’s creative output from the past few months, we simply can’t be surprised about missing the boat. So, dearest local music fans, here is the first entry of a handful expressing the variety in today’s scene on both sides of the camera lens! Expect the brand new and slightly viewed to appear side by side…
First is a “day after the party” scenario set to “Aquamarine,” a track by Champaign quintet Withershins from their album Mt. Fuji in Blue released last August by Heirship Records/Mud Records. A slightly disheveled young woman (Ashley Haley) wakes up in the apartment loft aftermath of said party and makes a mad dash downstairs to her getaway vehicle without those all-important keys. On her round trip to reclaim said keys, she flashes back to the festivities including a live set by the group – Isaac Arms, Luke Bergkoetter, Bryce Robert Hays, Colin Larson, and Neil Yeager – before she can exhale a sigh of relief. (We’re presuming some or all of this was shot at The Velvet Elvis, Arms’ short-lived guerilla concert space in downtown Champaign. And, no, we’re still not giving out the location on a public forum.) Immediate and uncertain as is our protagonist, buzzing with a hangover and spurned by a phone conversation gone sour, AQUAMARINE the video was produced by C-U videographer Chris Smith of TwoBrainz Photography with an assist from the fellows behind Urbana Basement Sessions.
Wandering virtually through both the TwoBrainz Web site and Vimeo account, we encountered external links to the prolific hip-hop collective TheGr8Thinkaz, members of which include Smith and fellow video wizard Michael Williams, Jr., a.k.a. FlyShotzFresh, performers Jay Moses, JEFFdaMC, and Sky, and producers Rokmore and H.Kal-El. Another member of the family, charismatic rapper Klevah “Ninja” Knox, recently dropped her sophomore full-length album Golden and has followed it with a steady stream of related videos. Two recent ones we share here: LOST LOVE, a concise piece filmed by TwoBrainz with track production by Rokmore, and BASTARDS, an iPhone collage assembled by Animol Filmz with audio production by Eric Surreal. Certainly a case of contrasting aesthetics on super-low budgets, the slick in-studio feel of LOST LOVE and organic street-level exteriors in BASTARDS equally compliment their respective sound tracks, a constant being the straight-up presence of Klevah and her lyrical flow.
Students of media can have equal fun comparing the portable device vs. DSLR production values of BASTARDS and AQUAMARINE and how each uses editing and verité-style camera work to reflect the women at their center. As you analyze, dissect, or merely view this trio, we’ll be on the lookout for more!
~ Jason Pankoke
p.s. “A film company of hundreds of film makers in Champaign, IL.” Way to dream big, Animol Filmz!