Making a Music Video For Adam Stafford

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(Photo by Rob O’Donnell – more here if you fancy a gander.)

I don’t mean to imply that Song, by Toad Records is in any way a half-arsed, cowboy operation at all. Totally not in any way whatsoever. But, erm. Well.

Well we’ve spent the last couple of days shooting a video in our house for the next Adam Stafford single Phantom Billions (fortunately for me, Mrs. Toad vanished to Berlin within twelve hours of the circus descending) and it’s been, er, instructive. This is a pretty tiny skeleton crew working on a bare-bones budget and by comparison to everything else we do it’s like the fucking CIA swooping in and saying ‘this is above your pay grade sheriff, we’ll take it from here’. Not that they have, they’ve been lovely, but I’ve had an amusing couple of days.

It’s weird, at the moment music and video are as unified as they have ever been, really, even including the MTV era. Trailer clips for albums, embedded Facebook lyric videos which autoplay, people exclusively using YouTube to listen to actual music. It’s funny, the music video almost died out, then came back as digital DIY fever took hold, but in the last year or so it’s exploded as almost all social media feeds have started to fanatically emphasise the visual, presumably as a way of arresting your attention as much as possible.

We have most of the equipment required to make at least a passable DIY video for our releases, but not really the ideas, nor the expertise to execute anything with any real level of ability. It would show, too. I mean, we could make something reasonable enough, and we might get lucky being charming, funny or just weird, but film-making is a serious technical and creative skill and just bodging it will catch up with you in the end.

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The thing is, most of our albums are pretty DIY too, the main difference being that we are actually starting to know what we are doing with the limited tools at our disposal. And we are starting with excellent material too: the ideas and the musicianship are all in place already. Still, most of the albums we’ve ever released on this label were made by a team of, what, maybe half a dozen people at most, including the band themselves.

So it’s a bit odd to be faced with a team of film crew who are all actual, proper professionals, with production meetings, planning, equipment (admittedly mostly borrowed, because SbT is a cheap-as-fuck label) and just generally what appears to be an idea, a team, a plan, and the skills and experience to execute it. When I think of the cack-handed trial-and-error approach with which we started the label, and which still permeates almost everything we do to this day, it’s a bit surreal and kind of funny to think that this one video is being done better and more professionally than pretty much anything we have ever been involved with.

It’s almost shameful really, all these competent people working hard on a shoestring budget in the service of an album made by four people and released on a label run by one. Ah well, if you knock together a good website these days you can fool a lot of people I guess!

I don’t really have much clue what they’ve up to, either. I figured fuck it, they seem to know what they’re doing. And from the still above it looks pretty ace already.

Adam’s new album Taser Revelations is out on the 14th March on vinyl and CD (pre-order here), his album launch show is at Summerhall on the 11th March, and the vinyl looks approximately this pretty. In fact, it looks almost exactly this pretty:

AS-TR 01

And here’s the first single, Atheist Money:

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