behind the scenes

Brahms Lullaby

Our latest music video features our take on Brahms’ beloved lullaby, “Wiegenlied, Op. 49, No. 4” (from our album “Mother”), inspired by the hypnotic oscillations of a crib mobile. Some of our earliest musical memories were of our mothers singing the tune, and we’ve lovingly crafted this short film in their honor while aiming to capture the shift between wakefulness and dreamland.

We filmed the macro footage of the crystals ourselves, though it was more challenging than expected given the precision required by macro photography. We spent hours keeping the crystals fingerprint-free, spinning consistently without excessive sway, and free of unwanted reflections. We’re adding “crystal wranglers” to our resumes.

We shot most of the macro hand footage at the Tippet Rise Art Center with the fantastic Emily Rund. Like the crystals, there was little room for error. Emily was great at picking up the choreography of our hands and nailing the camera’s focus… which wasn’t easy given that all six of our hands—and a camera!—were situated in one spot. (Only a few mild bruises here and there… 😅)

In the end, we got just the shots we were after and added a few new skills to our video-making repertoire.

Want to play along? Pick up our arrangement of “Lullaby,” on sale now until Mother’s Day.

The Night... The Love...

Lights... Camera... ACTION.

You’ve asked for more behind-the-scenes stories, so here you go! Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re revisiting the second movement from Rachmaninoff's Suite No. 1. "The Night... The Love..." paints an evocative picture of a passionate nocturnal tryst. We absolutely adore this piece, as do our mothers: they personally requested the suite for our recent Mother album, claiming it as one of their favorite works that we perform.

During the early planning stages of video-making, we allow our imaginations to run wild, and this time was no exception; we browsed countless locations in the quest for a beautiful and unusual setting. For this video, we decided to keep it simple and selected a stark studio, the darkness only to be illuminated by glowing bulbs.

(Throughout the planning process, our minds kept wandering to our New Music • New Video composition competition; we're currently looking forward to sharing the video-making experience with the winner of our competition, Edgar Ordóñez!)

When the time came to shoot, we realized our "simple" concept involved some major challenges. Hanging the lights was super difficult despite drawing up a detailed lighting plan. We had dozens of light strings hanging from hooks and nails, taped this way and that, plugged in all over the studio. The slightest bump or breeze would send the lights swaying precariously at inopportune times and we found ourselves constantly tangled in the lights. And at one point only half of them were working! 😅

As frustrating as the lights could be, the shoot was a blast overall and the effect mirrored what we envisioned: two lovers draped in an ethereal blanket of stars. We had a fantastic experience with Cherry Soda Studios in Eagle Rock, CA, and STEINWAY & SONS Los Angeles were amazing, assisting so generously with the gorgeous pianos.

We're very happy with how the video turned out, and we hope you enjoy it, too. Let us know what you think in the comments below and on social media!

🎥 Loving the process 🎬

The New Music • New Video composition competition is underway and our imaginations are in full gear. Playing through your submissions so far has been nothing short of inspiring. We're so eager to see what you come up with next! As a reminder, the deadline for submissions is September 1, 2018, so get your composing engines running and let us see what you can do. 

In addition to learning and performing the winning submission, we're excited to create the music video with the input of the winning composer. Our music videos, which started as a fun side project over a decade ago, have become an integral part of our creative expression as artists. From the very beginning, our videos have been completely self-produced, something a lot of viewers don't seem to notice. We initially didn’t have the funds to hire a professional film crew, so we thought we might as well go ahead and make music videos on our own. To this day, we jointly contribute to the vision/concept, narrative, production, and filming. Greg assembles the footage using Adobe Premiere and After Effects, and we refine and finalize the video together. At this point, we're practically a full-blown production company, and we're looking forward to sharing our skills and resources with an up-and-coming composer.

Watch our 5-minute excerpt from "Chronicles of the Rite" below to get a taste of our approach to filmmaking:

Rest in peace, oh beautiful, sad organ

Today, we take a moment to honor the antique Clough & Warren organ that played a significant role in our Rite of Spring music film — and in many peoples' lives over the past 135 years.

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I found the organ on Craigslist exactly a year ago. The owners, who were totally charming and helpful, had cared for the instrument for several generations and were looking to de-clutter. No judgements on them: while the instrument, built in 1878, was something of a family heirloom and an example of impeccable craftsmanship, it was a bit of an eyesore... a gothic monstrosity... the Debbie Downer of furniture items. It's so creepy, in fact, that they advertised the organ on Craigslist as the perfect addition to a haunted house!

They were so taken with our videos that they generously offered us the instrument for a price we couldn't refuse, even though we had no idea how we would incorporate the instrument into a future video. 

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Greg with the original owners of the instrument. October 2012.

The organ quickly made its way into the conception of our Rite of Spring film, after we had decided upon the themes of materialism, gluttony, and sacrifice — as a symbol of the first two, and something that could serve as, well... a sacrifice. The organ first makes its way into the film in Episode 6 (the "Introduction to Part II"), stark and alone in the middle of the desert. Throughout the film, and especially throughout the video shoots, the instrument took an enormous beating: we covered it in paint, red wine, bugs, bubbles, and sweat. In the end, we managed to bring our original vision to life: we sacrificially destroy the instrument in a baptism of flames and water. Watch for the dramatic sacrifice in the final episode. We literally pushed the organ into the ocean, then hauled it back out and set it on fire. :-)

(The organ got its comeuppance when it tore off my large toenail while filming in the massive waves of water.)

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We grew fond of the organ after working with it for nearly a year. We'll show some footage of us playing it — really playing it — when we release the behind-the-scenes video. For now, suffice it to say that while the complete and utter destruction of a beautiful, 135-year-old organ was sad (tear-inducing, even), we did it for the music. We went to these extreme lengths because we ultimately had no other choice: we had to stay true to the colossal scope and vision of the music. In the end, while the instrument will no longer play its reedy tune, it will live on forever in our visual realization of Stravinsky's cacophonous and apocalyptic score.