It’s hard to go deep.
When you’re a band just hoping to capture a modicum of attention from a largely apathetic audience, it’s tempting to just go for the lowest common denominator. Make your video look fun and effortless. Put bright colors in the thumbnail. Load up the YouTube description with SEO terms.
Putting together a video that speaks on a difficult topic can cost you your audience, but it can also make a bigger impact than any surface-level interaction. As we saw with Meridian Incident’s powerful videologue on childhood abuse, these videos leave lasting impressions, and as we’ll see again from The Oktopous, that message is more worthwhile than just delivering a good time.
Young Ciph -- “All I Need” (PREMIERE)
Minneapolis rapper Young Ciph is the rare double threat that spits and directs. There’s a lot of power in an artist who’s able to control his aesthetic on the mic and behind the lens, and Ciph’s newest video, “All I Need,” is a perfectly styled statement for the impressionistic battle rapper’s recent album Picasskiat.
As the album title suggests, Ciph’s lyrics come in strokes of street poetry. “All I Need” may be a supremely understated glimpse at the inner-city lifestyle that prompted his art, but there’s a seething menace in both the audio and visual -- something that could maybe only be accomplished because the rapper and director are the same person.
See More Perspective -- “(...And the Planet Imagined the Ballad of) See More Eye Jack”
Admittedly, this is a weird one, but if you’re a fan of a certain bygone Cartoon Network sleeper series, it’s just what you’ve been waiting for. Minneapolis rapper/poet See More Perspective so loved the American anime Samurai Jack that when the show announced it’d return for a fifth and final season after a 13-year hiatus, he immediately and excitedly dedicated an EP to the event.
The EP is titled See More Eye Jack, and it’s led by the wacky video for “(...And the Planet Imagined the Ballad of) See More Eye Jack.” Track producer Nye cuts together archival footage, the two elements melding into a seamless piece. At times, Jack actually seems to be rapping See More’s bars, with the villainous Aku taking on the voice of real-life villainous superbeing Donald Trump.
Safety Ranger -- “Future Days”
Ashley Gold and Benjamin Kelly became Safety Ranger when the pair teamed up for an NPR Tiny Desk contest submission, and though they’ve built out their folksy pop band into a full outfit, they’ve maintained the intimate, bespoke milieu they began with. In “Future Days,” their newest video, the band plays through a window of yarn, barely rising above a whisper.
“Future Days” comes from a four-song audio/visual EP titled Forward, which will release in weekly increments. “Future Days” is the first installation, dropping April 4, and the second edition will debut tomorrow. The album is the band’s introduction to the local indie scene, but Gold and Kelly, who teaches at McNally Smith, have already come a long way, sowing their seeds with this gorgeously edited glimpse into their world.
The Oktopous -- “Perpetrator” (LIVE)
Childhood sexual abuse has the power to ruin lives, and The Oktopous is looking to correct that power balance with their bluesy revenge song “Perpetrator.” Opening with a rash of headlines showing the proliferation of pedophilia worldwide, the video immediately primes the viewer for the song’s harsh realities. The lyrics, which are superimposed over footage of the band playing at the Riot Room shot by Chris Neilson, hold no ambiguities.
Singer/guitarist Timothy O'Neal’s object in the song may appear to be violence, but as the song’s credits reveal, the ultimate goal of “Perpetrator” is awareness. The video closes with a couple of heart-sinking statistics, followed by a call to action for parents to protect their children. The Oktopous will play Palmer’s on April 13.
Zach Spirov -- “Ocean”
The ocean might be 1,500 miles from us in either direction, but funk-fusion artist Zach Spirov makes it feel inches away in the cinematic video for his new song “Ocean.” Over B-roll of crashing waves and soaring birds, Spirov coos in big, digitally enhanced chants that sound like Enya trapped in a bit compressor.
The song comes from the aptly titled Bird Island EP, scheduled to debut this summer. From the looks of it, the young world-music impresario has his sights set on soundtracking many sunbathing sessions and beachball volleys in the Twin Cities this summer. The lakes might not be quite as refreshing as the ocean, but Spriov’s faraway tropical vibes can help bridge the gap.
Dream of seeing your video appear in Local Frames? Email writer Jerard Fagerberg at [email protected]