Alexis, The Outer Vibe, Simien the Whale, and Avila (featuring Brie Stoner) are making a video splash in their own unusual, fiery and nationally appealing way.
Alexis, “Fantastic Magic”
Never under-estimate the visual power of a good song.
That’s certainly the case with new videos by four uber-talented West Michigan bands who know how to entertain audiences: Alexis, Simien the Whale, The Outer Vibe and Avila.
OK, one of those “videos” is actually a commercial for Victoria’s Secret that uses music from the debut EP by Avila, featuring Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Brie Stoner and Detroit’s Daniel Johnson, but you sure don’t want to miss watching this one and you probably won’t with the holiday ad blitz upon us.
And are you ready for some magic? Ka-ching!
Yup, I’m talking about the magic that is the Grand Rapids electro-pop duo Alexis, aka Matt Forbush and Dan Hurst, who’ve once again cooked up another delightfully unique and whimsical performance – this one a video for their song, “Fantastic Magic,” directed by Ryan Lieske, of the zombie film “Abed” fame. It was produced by Alexis and Familiar Productions, with discussions starting in early September.
Forbush says the “glam scenes” were shot at Wealthy Theatre, backstage shots at The Pyramid Scheme and other scenes in a friend’s basement. The band filmed once a week through November, amounting to five 10-hour days. “It was a lot of work. I’m not envious of Daniel Falicki (GR30K) and the hours and hours he spent going through footage and getting it ready these first couple weeks of December,” says Forbush. “We are thrilled with the results. A high-end, eye-catching video was the kind of thing we were missing as an up-and-coming act.”
The band, which is now on New Jersey’s Synth Records label, will use the video as a “calling card” for booking and contacts, with hopes of releasing a new album in the summer. As the promoter at the beginning of the video gushes, “Is that money I smell? Oh, that smells good! Ka-ching!”
The Outer Vibe, “Hoka Hey”
The Outer Vibe spent a long weekend in October on guitarist Nick Hosford’s uncle’s property in Cedar Springs filming the motorcycle-driven video for “Hoka Hey,” the title track of the band’s new rock/pop album. Produced by the band and Josh Sikkema, and directed by Sikkema of JSFilms, the entertaining romp involved setting some things, well, ablaze.
“It was a riot when we filmed the “ring of fire” scene at the end,” explains trumpet and keyboard player Lisa Kacos, “and the neighbors called the fire department because they thought there was a big emergency. Oops!”
As drummer Jeff Brems joked, tongue-in-cheek: “We had zero fun making it.”
(By the way, the video got financial sponsorship from Grand Rapids Harley-Davidson, Arcadia Ales, and DEFYE Clothing.) Check the video out above and visit The Outer Vibe’s website for more information about the band.
Avila, “My Favorite Things” (Victoria’s Secret commercial)
Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Brie Stoner recently teamed up with Detroit’s Daniel Johnson to create the duo Avila, which last month released a three-song EP titled, “Curtains,” features their striking, whispery rendition of the classic “My Favorite Things” (from “The Sound of Music”).
The song got picked up by Victoria’s Secret of all things for that company’s holiday marketing campaign, starting with a special last week on CBS. As Stoner put it on her Facebook page: “I am still somewhat incredulous.” This one-minute snippet is sure to get plenty of attention and become a “favorite thing” on YouTube. (For more about Avila, visit the band’s website.)
Simien the Whale, “Bend Not Break”
As for Simien the Whale, which has dabbled in its share of amusing videos, its innovative, feud-with-the-girlfriend-and-remote-control-car-race video for “Bend Not Break” was produced and directed by Kevin Budzynski and Whiskey Neat, a Grand Rapids film/video production company.
“The concept was also a desire to be unique,” says Simien the Whale’s Zach Guy. “We came to Kevin with the remote control car chase idea. Originally we envisioned a bank heist or something. We let Kevin run with it from there and he really fleshed out the concept to what you see in the video.” For more about the band and its new album, visit its website and read my recent band spotlight feature at Spins on Music.