Interview by Monika Deviat
On March 23, 2012, Calgary’s Atomis held a video release party for their track “Maelström”. The instrumental act, comprised of guitarist/vocalist Matthew James McLaughlin, drummer Nathan Navetto, guitarist Taylor Johnson and bassist Bryan Buss, sold out the intimate venue they chose for the event. The Village Brewery, a very unique choice for a venue and a new addition to Calgary, was discovered by drummer and beer connoisseur Nathan Navetto. Attendees mingled with the band and were able to look into the actually brewery as they sampled the Village Blonde ale and the Village Blacksmith. The Village Brewery also features art by local artists and on the night of video release, Navetto, who is also a graphic designer, had some of his work for sale.
Before the first viewing of the video, Canadian director and film-maker Doug Cook gave an introductory speech about the making of the video and working with Atomis. They created a video that perfectly complimented the band’s music and fans asked to watch it a second time (and then even a third time before the venue closed). Cook has been working with many Calgary metal bands lately, such as Divinity, Orphan Hammer and the Unravelling. He has also worked on some videos that may be a little more well known around the globe including “Breaking the Broken” by Control Denied, “Prolong the Agony” by Morta Skuld and the upcoming video for Death’s “Pull the Plug”.
The concept for the video may seem simple but the imagery is complex and surreal. The music and the unique concept are a brilliant mix of artistic talent between the musicians and the film-maker. Metal-rules is pleased to be the first to feature the new video online (check it out below). We also caught up with Navetto after the video release party to chat about the video.
Why did you choose “Maelström” as the song to create a music video for?
"Maelström" is the first studio recording we chose to release online due to its use of dynamics. We felt that it represents many aspects of our music all in one concise song. We also chose to give it away for free. Naturally, the video followed.
Did the band have much say in the creative process?
Each person played a key role in developing and executing ideas during the making of "Maelström". Doug Cook is very expressive and is always more than willing to experiment with new ideas, which is why we were so drawn to him in the beginning. The masks were created by one of our band members before the second day of shooting. The concept was centered around water and we all did not want the video to focus on us as much as it did the colors and the mood. The masks were created to obscure band members and to also tie in with the theme of water and the depths of the ocean.
Besides being filmed for the band shots, were you involved in any other parts of the making of the video?
No, definitely not. We, as artists ourselves, did not wish to intervene. After the ideas were discussed, we trusted in Cook’s ability to do his thing and surprise us each time he crawled out of his dark, dank studio with more footage.
What is your favorite aspect of the video?
All of us like to center our writing around the idea of the listener subjectivity. We enjoy hearing peoples’ personal interpretations of a song. This is where we felt the video could also represent that. The use of inkblots and oil in water relates to a long-running fascination with the Rorschach test. Cook’s use of colors and movement of the ink really help generate emotion. The darkness of the video really helps to evoke a feeling of being submerged, which we were quite excited about.
How did you find the venue for the video release party?
I was aware of Village Brewery’s collaborations with other local artists when the idea was proposed to host an event for the video’s release. I contacted the owner, Jim Button and met with him right away to discuss the potential of having the event at Village Brewery. We are all heavily into beer; mostly Belgian and craft beers from all over the world. Being that we are huge beer enthusiasts, we were all very excited to be able to invite fans and the music community to such an amazing venue.
What does the music video give the band?
More than anything, the video gives Atomis the chance to be expressed visually, as well as musically. Obviously there is a promotional aspect which will help launch the band forward as well, but the main point to creating a video with Doug Cook was simple: to create art. "Maelström" is a long song, and to have a visual story coincide is only doing the song more justice. We hope to see it spread online and to be featured on various websites and YouTube channels.
Doug Cook seems to be the videographer of choice for many Calgary metal bands. Why did you choose him for your video?
We all really connected with his energy and his positive approach was refreshing. We knew that he was the right fit as soon as we walked away from our first meeting together.
Did the evening turn out as you expected?
We sold out tickets within two days and over a month before the video release party. The event was definitely a success in our minds. But more importantly, it was peoples’ reaction to the video that was even more encouraging, to say the least. To see people tear up or hear them say that they "had chills" was incredible. We always strive to capture a particular emotion or even peculiar energy in each and every one of our songs. Dozens of people came up to us afterward and to hear them describe what they felt during the screening was very surprising.
Do you think it’s worth it for local bands to invest in music videos?
We feel that the state of the industry is changing so much that it is hard to foresee. We felt that again, it was about creating an art piece more than a marketable or sell-able product. Along with that, what is naturally going to happen is people are going to see a video and if they like it, share it with their friends. This video and song have the potential to go viral. We feel videos are worth investing in because they also show that a band is willing to invest in their music and they can potentially take your song places that it may not go without a video. More than anything though, be creative.
Do you have any advice for bands in creating a video?
Like anything, try not to rush it. If you are able to really enjoy the process and always be prepared before filming, shooting a video can be a very satisfying creative experience.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
We have an album in pre-production right now. The upcoming album is a concept record, mostly instrumental and will include a plethora of strings, synthesizers and organs. It’s heavy and aggressive in many parts and soft and spacious in others.