Alex Niedt - Don't Forget To Tip Your Bartender
Alex Niedt underscores a common piece of advice at the bar – don't forget to tip your bartender – with this video sharply produced and edited by equally talented Zac Eubank. Niedt's vocal style and chill pop meets electro-club sound is perfectly complemented by Eubank's video, shot at The Monaco (formerly Mint) in Martini Corner. The director uses quick cuts and a split screen that transforms a familiar scene into a video that mirrors the message of the lyrics.
Niedt, who wrote, produced, and mixed the track, takes a common phrase and builds a song around it as an incisive snapshot of a club experience. Regarding his presence in the local music scene, Alex Niedt says: “I’ve grown up in Kansas City, and I’ve made music in my home studio for almost a decade, developing from an indie style with mostly acoustic instrumentation to a largely electronic pop style that I enjoy as something out of my comfort zone and something much more in line with the music I listen to nowadays.”
Niedt and Eubank discuss the music and work behind the video shoot.
Present: What inspired this single?
Alex Niedt: I was inspired by watching people go out to clubs, spend a bunch of money, get too drunk or take drugs in the bathroom, and lose all self control, often ending up crying in a corner over something insignificant. The inspiration to actually make it a single came from Zac wanting to shoot a video for the song after hearing it.
Present: Vocally and musically, are there any significant influences you care to cite?
Neidt: Usually, I'd say yes. But this song and the elements of the music and vocals really came out of nowhere for me...random sounds I hadn't used before. So maybe it’s cool because I can’t cite a specific influence? The only thing that comes to mind is thinking the melody in the verses was something Ian Curtis of Joy Division might have done, but I wasn't thinking about that as I wrote, because I really don't even listen to Joy Division any more.
Present: How did you approach the making of this video in terms of the structure, the interweaving and cutting of imagery?
Zac Eubank: Alex and I spent a lot of time talking about the aesthetic we wanted for the video far before we ever started shooting. Alex and I have worked together numerous times in the past and we generally have a good sense of what the other wants and is capable of. To put it simply, we wanted the video to feel like a mix of David Lynch and Hype Williams. The actual splitting of the screen idea came as a solution to a problem after writing out a shot list. I like the idea of the chorus being only slightly changed each time and the club world in the verses to carry the story. Well, we had too much story. I thought the song’s modern feeling as well as Hype Williams-inspired visuals would aid the split screen approach, allowing me to show multiple figures at one time as well as driving home the idea that all of these women are aspiring to be exactly the same with no real defining personality traits.
Niedt: We chose the setting and collaborated on the idea. I sent him a detailed description, shot for shot of what I had in my head, and he revised it with his more knowledgeable input on the technical side of things, in addition to creative input, of course. We basically shared the same vision for the video, which was great. I wanted a half David Lynch, half Hype Williams video...the dark strangeness of Lynch, and the slick modernity of Hype Williams. Zac and I both love Lynch, and I showed Zac a couple of Hype Williams videos that particularly inspired me. We shot for the same aesthetic as my music right now...dark atmosphere and content with slick production. The most memorable moment from shooting was someone accidentally snorting the Alka Seltzer used as fake cocaine!
Present: Does the music itself help shape the way you shoot and edit for a video? Or do you begin with an idea in mind and construct around that?
Eubank: It’s all about the music. I love doing music videos for the challenge of coming up with something new and different each time. As a filmmaker, I am trying to broaden my knowledge so there is not a style I would not take on. Usually at least a month is spent meeting with the musician and talking out ideas. I prefer to have them send me a transcript of the song and what they see visually before I start chiming in with my own visual take on the music. I am currently working with The Phantom in developing a music video that is similar in style to Alex's but also much different.
Present: What challenges did you have with lighting and staging since much of the video was shot in The Monaco with subdued lighting or at night?
Eubank: Because we where using a Canon 5d MKII, low light was not much of an issue. I did have two constant softboxes and a couple spot lights floating around, but for the high contrast look of the video I decided to stick with one direction lighting with maybe just a little highlight on the characters. Lighting was not near as much a challenge as getting unpaid extras that have been drinking all night to do what you ask them to do.
Present; How was Gnarly Enterprises involved with this project?
Eubank: Those guys helped move the lights around and get props ready for me, basically handled the crew aspects on this shoot.
Present: What are you listening to lately?
Niedt: Listening to The Dream’s new singles and anticipating his new album. Waiting for Diddy’s new album, as he's going pretty left-field in his genre. I pay attention to any release produced by Danja, and pay pretty close attention to Bangladesh right now. Waiting for Tank and Sun Kil Moon’s new albums, too.
Present: Do you have more material in progress? Plans to release an EP or full-length? Other projects?
Niedt: I'll be releasing another extended single. It's a cover of Tim Buckley's "Song To The Siren" made famous by This Mortal Coil's cover. More of a promo item, since it's not something fit for radio or club play. After that, I'd love to make a solid EP before doing an album, but who knows? When I try to make a single, I end up wanting to put four songs on it. So an EP could easily turn into an album. I'll also be producing some hip hop tracks for other artists.
Present: What else would you like to share about this project, your body of video work, or your work ethic and ambitions?
Eubank: I am really happy with this project and the support Alex and his fan base have provided. It was a challenging but also very rewarding experience to work with such a little budget and confined time restraints. We plan on doing everything we can to get this video on TV and spread across the country. This is what I am sure is to be the first of many large projects to come out between the two of us. You can see the rest of my work as well as the rest of my business ventures at www.arent-we-clever.com
Present: Alex, what else should people know about you and your music?
Niedt: I love it, can't live without it, and thank everyone who supports it from the bottom of my heart!
Directed/Shot/Edited by Zac Eubank. Special thanks to; The Monaco, Gnarly Enterprises
Zac Eubank - arent-we-clever.com
Alex Niedt - www.myspace.com/alexniedt