We’ve all seen those cheesy music videos where the band is rockin’ out in the studio, the singer walks in and starts belting, and the producer behind the glass gives the big thumbs-up because they’re recording an instant classic in one take (We’re looking at you, Eddie Murphy).
Of course, the reality of recording is a little different—and that’s exactly what John Vanderslice set out to capture in the clip for “How The West Was Won” from his new album, Dagger Beach. If anyone knows about studio life, it’s Vanderslice, who founded San Francisco’s resolutely analog Tiny Telephone Studio in 1997, and video director Jake Wachtel, who’s recorded there, too.
“I wanted to make a performance video that was more like a documentary of recording at Tiny Telephone,” said Vanderslice on his website. “Jake kept everything naturalistic and loose. I love the musicians and engineers who work at the studio and just wanted show them at work, doing the heavy lifting on records, obsessing about their craft, eating delicious tacos, and having a blast doing it.”
Wachtel captured the studio’s vibe well, noting, “Its chock full of incredibly beautiful analog gear and there’s a palpable sense of family among all the engineers who work there. So the idea of the music video was to try to capture the vibe of this specific place and family, and also to give a little glimpse into all the crazy behind the scenes work that goes into making a record—hooking innumerable cables into the patch bay, fixing the synth right before the session started, swabbing the tape machine with a Q-Tip, trekking out into the mission district to refuel with abundant burritos, hanging out in the control room and dissecting the philosophical underpinnings of Karate Kid (see if you can catch drummer Jason Slota’s wax-on moment). All of these tactile, physical moments from the recording session are there when you listen to a piece of music, folded into the fabric of the recording. We wanted to give these moments their due.”