Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Music Video ("Managing The Magic" often means just getting out of the way!)

This past Tuesday, we met in Ojai with Elevate Films’ Founder and Film Director Mikki Willis, along with Patty Yu(niverse), the star of that viral video “Shit New Age Girls Say”, and her boyfriend , Elevate film director, J Quest.

Mikki is directing our first music video, which at first we decided was going to be the song, “Nobody Knows” from Ash’s upcoming solo debut album. For weeks we were unable to divine a truly inspiring concept for the video, especially on our $10k budget. So in a first meeting with the Elevate team, we switched to “All Things Are Possible”, a modern-retro, feel-good beat-driven playful song in which the vibe of the music insists we incorporate a giant rainbow swirl lollipop in the video.

We had arrived at a concept, involving children in business suits essentially self-enslaved in your typical “civilized office cubicle world”, slowly waking up to their playful joyous nature, turning into adults and then making all their actual dreams come true ... After sitting with the idea a few weeks, watching many of the production elements we wanted NOT quite coming together, and then noticing the idea itself seeming to fall flat in our bellies, we changed songs.


It happened sitting in the Elevate Estate beautiful meditation room. We played a few more songs from the new album, and Mikki fell in love with the anthemic club-style dance song, “Mother Earth Burn”. We started visioning the scene, the fire, the inner flame of the dancers lit up using post-production computer-generated graphics. We settled on that song in the space of about 15 minutes ... until I suggested just for fun we play one more of the newer songs.


Imagine walking through an Avatar forest in the dark of night (on Planet Pandora), only the world around you is completely lit up brilliant by giant magnificent fern-like plants fluorescing their radiant nature into the still night. You push your way through dense thickets of glowing silky hair-like strands of fine tree root hanging down from the canopy above, each step subtly illuminated by a faint throb of light thrown off by the pressure of your feet on the moist earth beneath you.

Imagine the glowing, twirling, chirping and humming insects and delicate plant seeds floating through the forest; night animals, breathing lightly and with fire in their eyes quietly stir just beyond the shadows. This forest night’s wondrously syncopated symphony breathes itself around your skin, a bright, soothing melody washes over the electric synapses in your brain as fascinating, deliciously-shaped harmonies penetrate you and softly take hold of your delighted heart.

That’s the song “Innocence”.

It’s one of my favorite on the new album. You can't hear it just yet as it’s still in the demo stage. I didn’t see doing much with this song initially, other than putting it on the album and getting it to James Cameron for use in the Avatar sequel.

As extraordinary as it is and as much as I love it, I don’t know how to “sell it”. It’s not a Dance song; it’s not Top 40; it’s not Adult Contemporary; it’s not Pop; it’s not R&B ... it’s completely uncategorizable. Which is part of the fun - and the frustration - of working with Ash (and before that, Here II Here).

However, it IS the song that most excites all of us working on this music video project right now, and it IS the song for which the video concept is immediately apparent to everyone involved. Once we played that song, the idea just flew out of Mikki and Patty almost simultaneously, and Ash and I both already had visions during the early stages of this song’s creation which were similar to what they were now describing.

So, there it is. “Managing the Magic” often just means getting out of the way.

Plans are great, and they’re overrated [click to read that blog post]. Look, everyone with any business sense has a plan. Everyone in this industry is trying to break through to success, and if they’re confident enough, they believe their plan will accomplish just that. But the vast majority of those brilliant plans won’t work, or if those artists do succeed, it will be because something happened that wasn’t part of their original plan.

Definitely have a plan, be clear about your goals, and be true to them as long as they feel good, but allow the path you’re walking to shift and zag and twist and turn in ways you could never have imagined. It’s even just more fun that way.

Look for “Innocence” the Music Video soon!!! Sign up for ash's newsletter at to get notified! Or subscribe to his video channel at

p.s. oh, and yesterday I had breakfast with author Don Miguel Ruiz and his wife Eva at Cafe Gratitude in Los Angeles. Sorry, I just had to get that out because it's one of the coolest sentences ever to be constructed in my brain - and actually be true!!!

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