"Emphasis" Music Video (& how it was made)

When my good friend, Bob Davidson and I talked about doing a music video together, we both went away and thought through the 36 songs of "Yearbook" and came to the same conclusion: "Emphasis" would be a good fit for a video.

Bob, the director of this video, put together a fantastic team of people to make this possible. Production was handled by Wonderkind Studios: Brian MacDonald, who did incredible job as director of photography, while Jose Rivera edited the final video with precision. It was produced by the inspired folks at Rule29.

Although we discussed several different concepts for the video, we decided on a couple key elements right off the bat - we wanted the performance portion to be filmed at Electrical Audio Studio in Chicago (Side note: all 3 of my previous records were recorded at this gorgeous studio) - the exposed brick, gorgeous wood work and amazing selection of instruments were an immediate selling point.

Another aspect Bob and I both agreed on right away, was to film this in a very close-up, intimate fashion. Macro style as much as possible throughout. For a simple song that tackles such large questions about life, we loved the idea of filming this with limited perspective. In the grand scheme of life, we are perhaps much to close to the world and all of its mystery, to fully understand it. Like standing an inch away from a Georges Seurat painting. So the macro-style filming felt right for this little song about big questions.

We thought some of the outside-of-the-studio footage would be great to tie into various specific lyrics throughout - the first idea being to film bees in their hive, correlating to the first lyric of the song. We all liked this idea enough that Bob and his incredible team arranged to visit and film at a local Bee Keeper's Farm last Fall. Filming bees is no minor task, mind you. The team suited up in full on bee-suit attire and filmed quite a bit of these incredible creature's world.

With film, you never quite know what you have, and if what you have will fit together until you begin the editing process. Shortly after filming all of the planned shots, the team put together a rough edit. The footage all looked absolutely fantastic, but Bob and I felt that the two elements of the video (performance and static shots) weren't quite fitting like the glove we had imagined. So, being the incredibly dedicated team that they are, we decided to shift gears. Bob and I bounced some new ideas off of each other to replace the bees and other static shots, when Bob told me he had a random idea - perhaps we could film a small narrative, maybe of a little kid? I loved the idea and after a bit more brainstorming back and fourth, we landed on the idea of a little boy piecing a puzzle together. And that felt like the perfect visual representation of what this song is about.

bob and i piecing the puzzle shot togetherThe absolutely adorable little boy in the video is Phineas Davidson, the director's amazing 5 year-old son! He did SUCH a fantastic job on this video... took direction like a trained pro (as long as he received mini snack breaks every 20 minutes or so, of course... :)

Oh by the way, I've had a few folks ask if the little boy is meant to be me, i a flash-back or something... the answer is: nope. Phineas is far cuter kid than I ever was. ;)

The jigsaw puzzle was ordered entirely custom from a puzzle-making company in Wisconsin - so it is the only one exactly like it in existence. Neat! The puzzle came right when I was leaving for a trip to California, so my amazing manager was left all to herself to put this puzzle together. It was 200+ pieces, which isn't all that many, BUT due to the nature of the image on it, it's essentially like having to piece together 200+ blank pieces together, because the map colors are very monochromatic. But she did a great job and finished up right in the nick of time to film.

The lovely cellist performing with me, is Melissa Bach. Melissa did such a lovely job playing cello on the recording of this song, that I had to have her be part of the video as well. She's a truly gifted musician from Chicago and I always love working with her! (She was the cellist on my "Storyboards" album as well)

melissa bachI'm very proud of how this video turned out - and cannot thank the team enough for their hard, incredible work! If you or someone you know is in need of incredible creative assistance (video and otherwise!) be sure to check out Rule29 and Wonderkind Studios!

Thanks for reading!! I hope you enjoy the video...

... and here's a great behind-the-scenes video created by Brian MacDonald!

and if you missed it a while back, here's a link to the "how it was made" blog post about writing and recording the song, "emphasis."