WAM INTERVIEWS: We premiere The Brow’s latest vid!
WAMi award-winning electronic powerhouse The Brow (formerly Brow Horn Orchestra) are an act whose electrifying stage presence has seen them play festivals across the globe including Beerfest Asia, Pyramid Rock, Southbound and Groovin The Moo. WAM’s Jason Harris and Aarom Wilson interview The Brow’s Nicholas Owen (aka DJ NDORSE), to discuss the group’s latest film clip he’s produced, The Mantra, as we’re excited to exclusively premiere here! Ahead of their launch at Amplifier on Friday 11 March, he also discusses surprise guests of a feline nature, Perth’s post-apocalyptic transport system, shambolic nightmares, and how lessons from Evermore can actually be useful to an act’s career…
It looks like you had a lot of fun making your latest filmclip The Mantra – what was the funniest/craziest thing that happened when making it?
All the footage was filmed on 1½ meters of a remaining roll of green cloth courtesy of Spotlight, so nothing too crazy can unfold in such a limited space. However, one night after a DJ set in town I was locking up my bicycle in the garage when a neighborhood cat wandered down the alley to say hello. Being a crazy cat lady in the making, she decided to follow me into the house for a midnight inspection and after a bit of a nosy decided she was quite interested in the green screen. So I turned on the lights, hit record and now if you look very closely there is feline hiding away in one of the shots.
What kind of process was involved in the making of the film clip, including choosing the locations around Perth?
The locations were picked fairly randomly. I was coming home from a DJ set at the launch of a fringe venue Midlandia and as the train pulled into Perth station on a whim I thought it might be cool to get some footage out the window of the train passing through a tunnel into the station. That inspired the post-apocalyptic Transperth ending to the clip. Other locations were similarly filmed on a whim and courtesy of great phone technology or otherwise sourced online and manipulated with additional photoshop / video layers. The whole process was very much ‘fake it til you make it’ and the story was only realised part way through. I had to go back to the start and change characters clothing and add additional elements to try and help provide context for the later scenes. It’d surely be a shambolic nightmare for any professional videographer haha.
If you were showing a tourist around Perth, where is the first place you would take them and why?
I’d definitely advise they come during PIAF and Fringe and give them a great once over of the city between some awesome shows. A hot summer night in Perth with a million places to explore is world class. And last/least, and why? Anything with a fast food court and chain retail outlets because they’re exactly the same anywhere in the world.
Your film clips seem to have a level of uniqueness to it, what inspires your creativity, and what advice do you have for artists to get over creative blocks?
There’s a lot of love and inspiration for things like Monty Python and South Park when creating the clips. I really love the cut out collage type of style and even before I had a good grasp of motion graphics, we were still briefing production companies with similar concepts. When you’re trying to make something low budget with a focus on post production you’ve really got to be flexible and creative. There is an art to sourcing footage online and manipulating it to make it your own and I’m a big lover of sampling across music as well. It’s almost always the starting process when making Brow beats and something that always helps with creative blocks. Whether you find a tasty drum break to flip and sample or a sexy bassline to chop up and modify, the initial sounds really help you workshop ideas.
You seem quite passionate about politics. What do you feel are the main issues that the nation needs to address, and how do you see the role of artists in creating change?
Following the money trail always tends to shed light on a lot of important issues, and for me the most exciting politicians around the world have built their campaigns through grass roots crowd funding as opposed to receiving donations from big business and lobby groups. For Australia, the biggest things that concern me are our lack of investment in renewables and science, our cruel bipartisan approach to refuge policy, allowing multinationals and mining to get away with paying little to no tax, data retention laws and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As artists we have platforms (small or large) to engage passionately and help create discourse. My favourite moments with The Brow are when debates erupt on our social media. Having people discuss and debate ideas respectfully is always the best way to tackle any issues. In The Mantra clip you might notice we tip our hats to Q&A which is one of Australia’s’ great forums for doing so.
You’ve received a number of awards (including three WAMi’s) and high accolades over your career. What stands out the most and why?
Any award or recognition always means a great deal but winning best music video for our oldie Don’t You Wanna Sing Forever? (produced by Balthazar Media) followed by an on site interview with Video Hits after quite a messy WAMi awards ceremony at The Bakery remains a highlight. Especially when I got ‘confused’ and ask Dylan Lewis if he was the guy off Heartbreak High. 10/10 banter.
You’ve played a number of festivals and supported a heap of touring acts. Who/what stands out the most and why?
Tough one to answer as there have been a lot of fantastic highlights over the years. It’d have to be a three way tie with Public Enemy, Arrested Development and The Cat Empire. Chuck D watched our band’s show side of stage and now plays our music on his New York radio station (legend!) and both The Cat Empire and Arrested Development helped us load our gear into the venue / up onto stage and gave us some really lovely positive feedback after our sets. If we’re ever lucky enough to achieve half the fame of these champions, I can only hope we remain as supportive and grounded as they have. Very inspirational stuff!
Throughout your many years in the industry, what are 5 essential tips you’ve learned on how to get ahead as an act (in no particular order):
- Persistence: It’s a total cliché but sticking at it is so important. There will be lots of set backs and hurdles and how you overcome them, maketh the band.
- Be inspired: Fresh out of high school I went to see lots of live music (local, touring and festivals) and made notes on all the things that blew me away on stage, such as synths over heads (thanks Evermore) and tape delays on trombones (cheers Groove Armada).
- Be on the same page as your musical colleagues and let your act feel like a family. If you start doing long tours on the road you definitely want to roll with righteous individuals.
- Listen to other people’s ideas and feedback. This always remains a tough one for me as I’m an only child and very internal with the creative process so it’s hard to let go and share ideas. However, every single time we start workshoping beats in rehearsal everyone’s ideas will breathe new energy into the song.
- Network and be friendly. There’s no time for pretentious snobbery, get mucky and amongst it. Be front and centre for other bands and always up for a chat.
What else has the Brow got lined up for the next 12 months?
We’re still hard at work at Rada Studios with Matt Gio working towards an LP but after this single tour it’ll be rinse and repeat.
The Brow‘s ‘The Mantra’ single tour:
Friday 11 March 2016 at Amplifier Bar
Support from Marksman Lloyd, Alex Ford, Nodes, NDORSE. Early bird tickets are $10.50 each and available here.