Video Age on Optimism, Songwriting, and Supporting the Arts

Video Age on Optimism, Songwriting, and Supporting the Arts

Louisiana’s resident poptimists Video Age are right here to remind you that there’s mild on the finish of the tunnel. If there is a extra welcome message in 2020, I have not discovered it but.

The brainchild of Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli, the band has grown right into a four-piece since their debut album Dwelling Alone dropped in 2016. Together with the expanded lineup got here a shift in sonic gears. 2018’s Pop Remedy discovered the group heading full gale into the realm of 80s synth pop, although by no means shedding sight of including one thing new to the style.

Earlier this yr Video Age launched their newest LP, the infectious and pristine Pleasure Line. The album is their finest but, that includes skilled degree pop songwriting and plush instrumentation all through its ten tracks. It additionally occurs to accommodate my vote for the track of the summer time, in ‘Shadow On The Wall’.

Nonetheless listening to the album with regarding regularity because it dropped in August, it turned clear I needed to discuss to the band to learn the way they make their music that solely will get higher and higher with repeated listens. Here is what they needed to say. 


The title monitor on your newest album Pleasure Line appears like a welcoming into a selected world. I used to be questioning should you see the album as a complete a cohesive unit, perhaps even like an idea album?

Ross: Yeah. We do not normally set out to start with with an idea that we’re writing on. Some folks with that kind of album could have all of it of their heads earlier than they even begin choosing up an instrument. They know the idea for the report. However with us, it type of occurs a bit of extra organically. However it’s normally themed round one thing. No matter’s happening in our lives, the world, or no matter perspective we’re feeling. With this album it type of all takes place in the same world and ‘Pleasure Line’ is certainly a ‘come on in’, welcoming first monitor.

It looks as if a reoccurring focus in write-ups about Video Age is the instrumentation and sounds you utilize. Does that get annoying after some time?

Ross: It will possibly, yeah. The principle factor for me is we by no means need anybody to suppose that this gear is a should have if you wish to make music like us, that it is actually essential. As a result of on the finish of the day we’re just about simply utilizing what we acquired and no matter is purposeful and thrilling. We’re enthusiastic about gear, however you possibly can’t let it get in the way in which of creating issues. So we attempt to not concentrate on it an excessive amount of so I believe there are some occasions it appears like an excessive amount of of a focus.

Yeah, for certain. From my perspective the main target in your sound actually distracts out of your songwriting, which I’ve to say is de facto nice.

Ray: Oh, thanks for saying that, that is so good of you to say.

So I wish to speak about songwriting. Your course of, and many others.

Ross: Completely. Nicely we each write songs for the band.

Ray: Yeah, for this album I introduced in songs and Ross introduced in songs. After which we recorded them and produced them collectively. For me, I get up [laughs], I do it within the morning, solely within the morning. Like, drink a tonne of espresso after which simply go, and attempt to do it on daily basis. Everyone has their distinction processes. Some folks do it at night time, you realize. I am enjoying them on acoustic guitar, simply type of like Ray Davies mentioned, you must be capable of play pop track on acoustic guitar. So then it is type of all in my head after which I deliver it to Ross and it turns into a tangible Video Age factor. I am actually grateful and so fortunate to play in a band and collaborate and write songs with these folks.

Ross: We do issues type of in another way, Ray and I. I believe we praise one another in that manner. The best way I song-write, it at all times type of modifications, I do not suppose I’ve discovered some type of system that at all times works for me, however recently particularly I am beginning with extra of a vibe. I am going to simply be enjoying round with a synth or one thing and begin developing with chords and concepts and it type of comes collectively. Ray is extra pocket book and a pen and an acoustic guitar, and the entire track just about comes collectively earlier than he is even recorded something. Plenty of occasions for me I am making demos as I am writing and piecing collectively components that I like. The songs type of come about in an exploratory manner, with sounds as a part of the writing.

Yeah I needed to ask what comes first, the instrumentation and sounds or the songwriting, however I assume it is each?

Ross: Yeah. For Ray it is the songwriting, for me it is type of each on the similar time lots of the time.

Additionally I consider Ray you sing extra on this album than earlier ones? Was that one thing you needed to get into?

Ray: Extra, yeah. I at all times needed to sing the falsetto [laughs]. I am at all times singing in falsetto for enjoyable and I actually love singing however I additionally actually love Ross’ voice. So lots of songs I am going to attempt to sing however it’s like ‘alright we’re going with Ross on this one.’ However that does not imply I nonetheless cant throw in a pleasant enjoyable falsetto. As a result of this album simply occurred to lend itself to having the ability to try this. So it was enjoyable to sing extra on the album.

In regards to the track buildings, they’re actually tight and for lack of a greater time period very well thought out. Are there a number of variations and do they undergo lots of modifying? As a result of I observed the Pop Remedy demos are literally fairly much like what ended up on the album.

Ross: It relies upon. Some tunes are completely different than others. A few of them we find yourself utilizing the demo. As a result of we do wish to demo issues, lots of the time I am making demos as I am writing a track. Even ‘Pleasure Line’ the title monitor is technically the second demo. I had an instrumental demo that was on a cassette tape and it was too messed as much as work with anymore so I re-recorded it on the pc to complete the track and that ended up being the model you hear on the report. However normally, particularly Ray’s songs as a result of he’ll include chords and melodies and vocals so there’s lots of room to attempt various things with the preparations, so yeah there’s undoubtedly lots of room for demoing. Some songs we’ve got three completely different variations by the top of it.

So then how do you cease? I might think about it will get difficult whenever you’re utilizing so many sounds, how do you resolve on the completed product?

Ross: Often it is once we each agree that it is carried out, you realize? We’re on the identical web page.

Ray: We’re tremendous fortunate. I swear that is true, we simply agree. If we’re each on the identical web page and each say sure, then that is it. I am not saying that one among us says ‘that is it’ and the opposite says ‘no it isn’t’. We each say ‘no this is not it,’ ‘no this is not it’, ‘sure, that is it.’ We each agree, it simply type of works out that manner. which has been nice and is why we have been so fortunate.

Ross: And our bandmates Nick and Duncan play a giant half. Additionally on Pop Remedy, however an excellent larger half on the brand new album. Serving to us prepare issues and the manufacturing stuff too, making all these selections on how issues are going to sound and the vibe of the monitor. So yeah, type of simply once we all really feel prefer it’s proper.

I needed to cowl the event over the three albums. I learn that Ross you have been dealing with the manufacturing predominantly originally. Is that also the case?

Ross: I assume you can say that is nonetheless the case however at this level it’s much more collaborative. I have been recording for a very long time. For different folks across the metropolis and for my very own initiatives, engineering and producing for folks in order that’s one thing I do in any case. The primary album was simply me and Ray and I spent lots of time alone and we spent lots of time collectively on that one. However Pop Remedy, Nick and Duncan performed on it however it was principally simply me and Ray once more.

I assume I spend lots of hours on it as a result of I am the one mixing it and placing the ending touches. And lots of the time whenever you’re the mixer and the co-songwriter and the performer, all of it blends collectively. So lots of time after I’m mixing we’ll suppose ‘yeah it is just about there, I believe it will work within the combine’ after which I am going to find yourself including extra stuff through the mixing. So I do have the type of last touches typically, however once more it does come again to me and Ray feeling good about it, so it’s extremely a lot collaborative. At this level all 4 of us are serving to with the manufacturing stuff.

Ray: For this album to achieve the climax we took off two weeks in Ross’ home. So identical to how we recorded Pop Remedy, however we had two weeks all 4 of us to make this album, whereas Pop Remedy was scattered over 4 months or so. This was we’re all displaying up at ten am and we’re leaving at six pm. And we had snacks and low and stuff and we have been simply recording for 5 days one week after which 5 days the opposite. So we did all of it collectively which was so, so enjoyable. I actually had a good time.

The distinction between album one and two is fairly evident, however what would you say is the distinction sonically and within the recording course of and thought course of between two and three?

Ray: Extra surprises [laughs] as a result of we did not know. We have been simply considering ‘let’s make an album’ after which we made one.

Ross: We have been simply attempting to shock ourselves and do one thing new. Total we discovered one thing on Pop Remedy that labored for the entire album. For that one we have been actually attempting to present it some glue that held the entire thing collectively, production-wise and simply the vibe of the album. With this one we have been constructing on that however in a manner the place we have been simply taking that to a brand new degree, probably not understanding what that meant on the time, however simply getting right into a room to do it collectively.

The opposite factor that will get focussed on in write-ups about your band alongside along with your sound is the constructive vitality and optimistic outlook in your lyrics. Whereas I do suppose your message is overarchingly constructive, I believe a standard thread is not only overt optimism however extra actively attempting to be optimistic within the face of adversity, which I believe could be very completely different and once more has extra depth to it than I believe you get credit score for.

Ray: I agree! That’s so cool, thanks for saying that. I have not been in a position to put my finger on it however that basically hits the nail on the top of what we attempt for, I believe.

Ross: Positively.

Ray: We have been at all times cautious of, you realize, dwelling on adversity as a result of we did not wish to get too slowed down. You already know some bands try this they usually can actually make it work however we felt like we weren’t going to have the ability to make that fly. And a buddy of ours was like ‘if you are going to make drum machine 80s dance music… [laughs] what did he say, what did Andrew say?

Ross: I do not know if that completely applies right here [laughs] however he mentioned ‘if it isn’t funky and dancey then it is identical to unhappy man -‘

Ray: Oh yeah, that does not actually apply –

Ross: That does not actually apply right here.

Ray: That is extra concerning the music, however I am simply bringing that up as a result of individuals are speaking concerning the positivity of it, the music is constructive.

Ross: I believe you nailed it. As a result of the issues that make you wish to write songs are sometimes issues that you just’re attempting to determine or are troubling you in a roundabout way. However yeah, it is simply how we’re as folks, we attempt to be constructive, so that you’re engaged on one thing in your life or attempting to determine one thing, some wrestle or feat and on the finish of all of it you type of wish to wrap all of it up and say ‘however I believe I acquired it, I believe I can deal with it’ [laughs].

Ray: Yeah, undoubtedly.


And these are fairly unsure occasions and I believe individuals are actually connecting with that message which made me take into consideration the position of music and the humanities normally. These sectors are dealing with cuts and hard choices today and I used to be questioning when you’ve got ideas on the position of arts in society as a result of I really feel prefer it’s fairly underneath assault proper now.

Ross: That means, like underneath assault in that we’re all struggling to maintain doing what we’re doing?

Yeah as a result of we have misplaced a lot cash as a society, we’re choosing and selecting what we name important. And I believe music, and the humanities typically, are getting left behind.

Ross: If something I have been listening to extra music for the reason that pandemic hit. As a result of it’s therapeutic and a minimum of the stuff that I have been drawn to just lately has been placing my thoughts comfy a bit of bit and serving to me relieve some nervousness so I can strategy the world and my life from a extra centred place. 

It is at all times been laborious making a dwelling enjoying music, it is by no means been a straightforward factor to do and it is even tougher now with out having the ability to play reside reveals. That is the place greater than half of the cash our band brings in is from, enjoying reveals. So it is extra essential now than ever that we determine easy methods to receives a commission extra pretty from streaming. It is simply extra evident now, the issues in the way in which artists receives a commission. Till artists are handled extra pretty financially it simply makes it tougher for folks with out privilege to have the ability to make artwork. It is extra essential than ever that the music business figures out methods to pay artists.

Did you see what Daniel Ek mentioned about artists needing to place out extra music? Ideas?

Ross: Ooph. It is simply humorous. It is simply… a disconnect. And it is placing all of it on the artists’ again and never considering the entire image of what being a musician now’s. It is already a full time job the place you are on social media and also you’re anticipated to show components of your self which are actually private on a regular basis and have interaction always. After which he is saying, ‘yeah that factor you simply did that took you two years to make that nice album, you are going to must have one other a type of prepared in six months.’

Ray: Yeah, it would not even make sense. And did you see what David Crosby mentioned?


No,
I do not suppose I noticed his response.

Ray: I imply I simply heard this via another person, not I am undecided if he really mentioned this [laughs] however what they advised me he mentioned in response to that was, ‘you grasping little shit’ [laughs].


That does sound like one thing David Crosby would say.

Ross: Have you learnt Lower Worms?

No.

Ross: He is a very nice songwriter, musician. He went on a Twitter rant about it that went a bit of viral. Simply speaking about what I used to be bearing on, that how there’s such a strain to be genuine, all the pieces’s purported to be as extremely genuine as attainable, it is purported to be a chunk of your soul and you are purported to do it ten occasions extra usually?! It is only a loopy demand. On the finish of the day we’re all simply attempting to make music we care about, track. Which takes a while and vitality.

Ray: And, you realize, we’re going as quick as we will too. The entire thing is I might like to do it on a regular basis, so that is what I attempt to do. I am unable to max it out. I am unable to make a automotive go quicker than it may go, you realize?

Ross: That is level.

I have been considering, you know the way when Napster got here out everybody was speaking concerning the demise of the album? That simply does not appeared to have occurred. I assume it is as a result of an album is such an satisfying and digestible piece of artwork. However folks speak about perhaps placing out a track per week or month or one thing as a substitute of an entire assortment. Have you ever ever considered switching up codecs or something like that?

Ross: Yeah. We undoubtedly grew up on and are absolutely in love with the album mannequin. That is simply how I’ve listened to music my complete life. So we have at all times been actually linked to that. And even to start with of the writing course of once we say ‘oh we have got a couple of songs, this is perhaps an EP’, by the point we get to track like 4 we simply get so enthusiastic about placing collectively a full album. However we’re beginning to speak about attempting some singles simply because at this level we won’t tour and we’re dwelling much more however perhaps we’re not able to put out one other full album, so it is a chance, we’re speaking about it.


Your album covers and music movies and such are clearly very properly thought out and also you guys undoubtedly have an aesthetic. How a lot considering has gone into your strategy to your aesthetic? Or did it simply come about naturally?

Ross: We have put lots of thought and energy into it. Thanks for saying that. We have additionally had the privilege of working with some unimaginable artists. The brand new album was a portray by our bass participant. I had by no means seen any of his work however I knew that he did that in his personal time and we have been all speaking about album cowl concepts and all of us type of had this imaginative and prescient for a kind of dwelling area that was type of similtaneously being actually acquainted and home-y but in addition otherworldly. He simply mentioned in the future ‘yeah, I am simply going to take a crack at portray it, no large deal if it does not work.’ And when he despatched it to us we have been all like ‘oh yeah, that is proper on.’ However the earlier album cowl was an artist from Louisiana who lives in New York who we knew via a pal, named Ben Hill. And he simply nailed that one. So we have had nice artists working with us.

Ray: And Felicia Douglass on the primary one. We knew from the beginning that we needed her to do it.

Then you definitely begin to consider issues like Instagram which is clearly extraordinarily visible. I do know you are lively, however I do not suppose you are tremendous lively, however I is perhaps flawed.

Ross: No, you are proper [laughs].

How a lot significance do you placed on the social media aspect of issues?

Ross: We’re type of personal folks and do not actually interact with social media that a lot in our private lives. So doing it with the band takes thought it doesn’t matter what as a result of it does not come tremendous naturally to us. So we undoubtedly put thought into it. Instagram particularly is simply so visible so we’re at all times attempting to color an even bigger image with every factor and type of have a vibe with the images.

Ray: What is the futurism, Ross, that we have been speaking about, what’s it known as?

Ross: Retrofuturism?

Ray: Yeah, retrofuturism was from the beginning a theme that we knew we needed to discover, should you needed to lump all of the vibes that we have been going for.

Are you engaged on new music?

Ross: We’re, yeah.

Something you possibly can inform us about that?

Ray: I do not know [laughs].

Ross: [laughs] We’ll see. We’re nonetheless very a lot to start with phases of recent music. So it is going to be a shock to us too at this level.

I am curious as a result of everyone seems to be so disconnected proper now, have you ever observed a distinction within the response to this album versus the one earlier than or have issues been so distracting that you have not actually been in a position to really feel it out?

Ross: Yeah that is level. Plenty of the suggestions we get and even simply impressions come from reveals and touring.

Ray: That is the way you join, you realize.

Ross: Yeah that is how we actually have these connections with the individuals who take heed to the music. However so far as all the pieces else, simply judging from what we’ve got skilled with this one, it has been nice. And we’re fortunate to be working with a brand new label, Winspear, who simply does a very nice job. So yeah, it has been good. We’re simply actually grateful to have the chance to place it out even within the state of the world, although we won’t be touring, a minimum of we will try this, which is de facto nice.

I have not had the pleasure of seeing you guys reside but however I used to be questioning what your strategy is to enjoying your music reside. Do you stick fairly near the recordings?

Ross: Kind of, however since we began this band this was one of many issues, that we have been going to concentrate on recordings earlier than the reside present as a result of we might by no means carried out that earlier than, a recording mission that may turn out to be a band. Which is not a brand new thought [laughs], however we have been simply excited –

Ray: New for us.

Ross: So once we strategy the reside stuff, we’re attempting to take a look at all of it in a brand new mild and picture it on stage. All of us actually love reside music, it is essentially the most thrilling leisure on this planet to me, so we simply by no means needed to precisely recreate the recording reside, it is acquired to be a bit of bit pumped up and have some pleasure and vitality to it that is new and distinctive. We spend little bit of time figuring it out and typically it finally ends up going full circle and it’s a lot just like the recording, however lots of time it takes on a brand new life reside.

Lastly, and really importantly Ray, how lengthy have you ever had your moustache?

Ray: Oh man. This particular one [laughs], two years I believe. However I began rising one when the band began really, when the primary report got here out, so that is the band [laughs].

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