Whatever happened to the music video? Like everything else, it seems, the best ones now are local. Come see reels (or discs) of WNC’s best this Wednesday at the fifth Music Video Asheville event.
Lush Life Productions, The On Corps, Sound Mind Media and Dreamspider Publicity will present Music Video Asheville on Wednesday, May 9 (that’s tomorrow!), at Cinebarre in Biltmore Square Mall. Some of the 27 groups featured include stephaniesid, Agent 23 Skidoo, Chachillie, Kovacs and the Polar Bear, Arizona, The Campaign 1984, Two People Playing Music and Ivan the Terribles.
Erin Scholze, of Dreamspider Publicity and Events, has been an organizer of MVA since it started in 2007. The motivation was simple, she says. “We wanted to show our friends’ videos on the big screen.”
That simple idea has evolved. The videos have improved, as have the awards. The event has become more gala and the audience even more involved.
“The caliber of entries has gotten so good,” says Jessica Tomasin of Echo Mountain Studios. “It’s pretty cool to see, every year, bands raising the bar by putting out better and better quality content.”
“In the past we had, and we still have, a lot of live footage submitted, but we didn’t really get a lot of the narrative-style stuff,” Scholze says. That’s changed, and more conceptual material comes in each year.
And there are awards. In the beginning, “There were, like a million awards,” jokes Stephanie Morgan of stephaniesid, who’s also been a part since the beginning. “Everyone won an award.”
Scholze laughingly recalls, “We used to give little awards for ‘best use of a tiger,’ ‘best use of the color red’ … just random things. We would put together homemade folk-art trophies as awards. Now, it’s a little more competitive and the prizes are a little bigger.” That’s an understatement, perhaps, as this year’s awards include a day of studio time at Echo Mountain and a cash prize of $500.
And the festivities are about more than prizes. Tomorrow’s showcase is a fun intersection of film and video, Morgan says. “It’s the time of year or the event to get to know the most bands and what they do in a visual medium. I always feel I really get to know the bands after this event.”
The audiences chooses the viewers’ choice, but this year, there’s added cache. The organizers have put together a panel of judges for something “a little more objective,” Scholze says.
They’re a stellar lot. “MVA is bringing in some great folks from other aspects of the music industry for the judges’ choice,” Scholze says. They include Tom Taddeo, a filmmaker who has worked on hundreds of music videos (including those for Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Dr. Dre, 2 Live Crew). Based in Charlotte, Taddeo will also be a guest speaker; Asheville-based Sean O’Connell, President and founder of both Music Allies and Creative Allies; Rex Thomson, writer, photographer and videographer with Honest Tune Magazine, founder of a festival-based reality TV series called Rex-A-Vision, based in Lexington, Kent.; Sadie, a radio DJ at 98.1 The River in Asheville; and Sam Katz, booking agent for the Asheville Music Hall and the One Stop in Asheville.
Although MVA has grown bigger, better and faster each year, it retains the grassroots ethic and charm which motivated it from the start. Its sense of community among friends prove to be a source of wealth for artists involved, proof positive that the DIY spirit of Asheville is strong, red carpet and all. Morgan upholds this as a mainstay for many she collaborates with, “I don’t think I spent more than $50 on all three of my videos combined … you band together with your friends, you work with who you have.”
For Tomasin, this giving back to ones community has been important to Echo Mountain studios since it started six years ago. “We didn’t want to seem like this studio with a big ego that nobody local could afford. We do intern training services for interns here to get some training with hands-on experience, actually run [recording] sessions. We’ll offer that to some local bands that don’t have much money or budget.”
Showing this year: stephaniesid with a video for the languid jazz-pop song “I Like It,” produced by Greensboro friends Monkeywhale Productions; first-time submitter, The Broadcast, present “Hide Yourself Away,” shaking it low with a mod-soul and basement lounge aesthetic assisted by Lush Life Productions; Underhill Rose’s “Who Brought the Sun,” set in a field near Warren Wilson College, filmed by Paul Schattel; and Foul Mouth Jerk’s “Back up on the Scene,” directed by Daniel Judson, with its full-frontal ensemble of limos, celeb cameos and … a debunked heist at Harvest Records to bring it home.
Oh, and we’d be remiss not to mention that two videos from Mountain Xpress will be shown:
Tickets are $8 advance or $10 day of and can be purchased at Harvest Records, Orbit DVD, One Stop Deli and Bar and Cinebarre. Space is limited, so advance tickets are recommended by the show’s promoters. This event is intended for adult viewers, as some videos are graphic in nature.
Amenities this year include a VIP party bus package, with beer and Champagne served on the bus, pick up/drop off at One Stop Deli and Bar (downstairs of the Asheville Music Hall on Patton Avenue, downtown). The party bus is sponsored by Asheville newcomers, New Belgium, there will be a rolling out of the red (as in that red) carpet and even paparazzi to greet artists in attendance. Naturally, Asheville organizers of this affair, present all of this with a humored bow to their native grassroots.
— Cara Cilberto is an Asheville-based freelance writer