Monday, January 15, 2007

Thick Interview: The Real Live Show

There will be a lot more hip hop content from me this year, and this is an old clip I thought I'd archive on TAN. It's an interview I did a few years ago (2004) with The Real Live Show for canadian hip hop mag Thick. Since it was an indie sort of outlet I angled towards exposing some of an indie band's process in getting their video some MTV exposure. The Real Live Show remains a must-see experience with world class musicians and performers, keep an eye out for their appearances.
(About Thick)

Please Listen to My Video
By [TAN]

There’s a Hip-Hop band rocking all the hot venues in NYC. They’ve been slowly but surely building a legion of fans. The group is The Real Live Show, and their days of anonymity may soon be over as the song ‘Shop Rocking’ is currently featured on MTV-U.

The video is animated and has a style and sound unlike anything else currently in rotation. According to Stimulus, Dionysos and Shelley Shick, the slick, ultra-stylized, innovative feature serves as a ‘calling card’ for The Real Live Show’s brand of funk and Hip-Hop flavour.

The Real Live Show core line-up: Stimulus - Vocals, Dionysos - Vocals, Tarus Mateen – Bass, Greg Hutchinson – Drums, Kim Thompson - drums, Raymond Angry – Keys, James Hurt - Keys, Thor Madsen – Guitar, Terreon Gully – Drums, Colt Seavers - Turntables

Thick: So was there any debate as to what song would be the subject for your first video?

Stimulus: No debate really. Whole process began with me meeting with some friends of mine in the business to talk about how we could collaborate on a serious project. One friend was a producer [redacted] (The Restaurant), one was a director [redacted] (Nappy Roots) , ‘Shop Rocking’ was our first joint that was mixed down and ready to go, so I presented it to them and they liked it.

Dionysos: It’s also the consensus favorite song. For the The Real Live Show our process was born out of an organic, jazz-like approach. In the beginning we couldn’t pay for musicians or studio time, so the band would play at the show and we would just drop whatever we had. But ‘Shop Rocking’ was a song Stim and I collaborated on from the start, our first song written together. We tried to sum up the struggle we were going through, and everything musically just kind of worked and translated so well. The song stuck

S: The song also features most of the musicians, as there are two types of bass, two types of keys…and musicians for each sound.

Shelley Shick: The song itself is a reflection of the overall Real Live process…it’s survival of the fittest with everything we do. We just give birth, and whatever people like wins.

T: It’s a very stylized video. How much of the direction/conception was you, and how much the director?

S: The initial idea was simply to visually demonstrate what The Real Live Show was about. Show the organic process we just discussed, and try to capture our live experience on camera. So, the plan was to basically present the musicians [and us] in different environments, within different vignettes.

We shot in April and the actual shooting was about five days. Three days for location scouting, two days for shooting…all the footage was taken in Brooklyn.

SS: It was our first time, and it was definitely a great experience. It’s just nice to do things you know are going to add serious points to your resume. We had a lot of people helping, rented a convertible CADDY…it was fun.

T: Did you and the director and producer split all the costs and production responsibilities?

S: Well, in terms of shooting, the director handled everything. We had no experience, and ultimately we did a lot of work in terms of getting the proper personnel around us so that when we were shooting we didn’t have to worry about production and direction stuff…we just had to be artists and have fun.

D: Basically at the start the producers produced a budget, explaining the process and what we needed. Very detailed, and they explained anything we didn’t know. But we financed everything. Stim actually had to work the 9-5 grind for a while to help pay the bills and get us started.

S: Yeah, waddup Ecko, good looking on the J-O!!

SS: What helped were people having enthusiasm about the project. Everyone was willing to go the extra mile, and you need that when you don’t have all the money in the world.

T: Was animation always a part of the plan?

S: Initially, it was just going to be regular film. But after final cut of raw footage, it wasn’t ready. It wasn’t grabbing me like it needed to. So we discussed the options, and the options were basically to spend a lot more money to treat the film in exotic ways. The big thing was called ‘FLASH’. It’s a film treatment that makes everything 100x more vivid. All pro videos you see on TV are treated with it, but we didn’t have the budget.

So, after some brainstorming sessions the director called some animators he knew…and it proceeded from there. Another three months after we made the call to go animation and we got the final cut. We liked it and it started getting real strong feedback from people we played it for.

T: So you have a hot video, did you just immediately say ‘let’s take it to MTV’?

S: Quddus – VJ ON TRL – has been to some of our shows, and knows us. We showed it to him, and he thought it was hot enough that he introduced us to the people who are on the review board.

D: MTV was surprisingly accessible. For a mighty music and media juggernaut you might expect some snobbery, or at least a lot of bureaucracy…but they were very cool, and we had a good amount of communication throughout the process.

T: What specifically did you have to do?

S: There’s an application you fill-out to be reviewed by the boards. It was a one-page form, very basic, primarily asking for the credits, and how often you want it played, and on what stations.

D: That was a no-brainer, of course we wanted it played 20x a day on every station.

S: We did leave off VH1…we felt they’re kind of old [laughs]

T: So just a form to get on MTV? Anything else?

S: You also had to include the video on beta SP, and a lyric sheet.

Eventually we had to submit multiple versions. After the initial copy, we had to make a clean version -- no foul language or drug references. Then after that we had to get it close captioned.

SS: And of course all these things cost money to get done and come with deadlines. After the first review, which took 2-3 weeks, they contact you and the process speeds up significantly…we had a week to resubmit the revised editions of the song. We were excited, but also feeling the pressure of getting everything done. If you plan something like this, be prepared for post-production issues and costs.

T: So after that, you were on to MTV?

S: Basically. After you get everything in they give you an initial air date and tell you where and when you’ll be in rotation. We got placed on the show ‘Freshman’, which spotlight new artists. The show is on five days a week at: 8:30am, 1:30pm, 5:30pm. It plays primarily on MTV-U, which goes to over 740 universities and colleges.

Part of the package was also space on the website, We had to build an artist page.

T: Last words?

S: The Real Live Show recently made history as the first Hip-Hop band to play at the Blue Note.

SS: …and look out for our LP, ‘Class is in Session’ distributed this fall…just in time for the back-to-school rush.

‘Shop Rocking’ on --

Check out The Real Live Show at:

The Real Live Show [website]
Thick [website]

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1/18/2007

    ...Reading in between the lines, but did you quit your day job TAN?

    Either way, keep kicking butt!

    Didn't really have a comment on this particular post except to say it's the first one in months that I skimmed. Everything else has been top notch, almost always funny and interesting, good variety of topics.


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