Video for "67 Mustang", and how time flies when you're staring at a wall....

All day and night on a beautiful Saturday in August of 2013, my band agreed to lock themselves in a windowless room with me and perform for hours on end for a  "simple performance video" that I was going to light, direct, film, star in, and edit so that we could put some sort of video out to help promote our record, "Free As Thieves". In a perfect world, I wanted it done before our CD Release in November '13, but in reality I was going to edit it in the winter of 2014 and put it out shortly thereafter. I was doing it all by myself because I had no money, and it was supposed to be an experiment on how to light a set, and learn my video editing software better. 

And all of those things happened, the only snag in the equation was that I hadn't anticpated falling into a year long depression after my album came out. Oh, head chemicals, you are so unpredicatable! Depression is debilliatating on the best of days, but looking at yourself for hours on end as you edit a video that you shot and did everything for is like a visualization in all the lies you see in yourself and in the world, everyday. At least for me it was like that. This "simple performance video" was feeling more epic with every passing month it wasn't completed, and finishing the video was unendurable. So I stopped. For a year. 

And then I went to India. The phrase "Everything is Nothing" kept popping up in my brief time there,  and at some point after I got home I would occasionally let the idea gestate in my mind. It was a bit of a relief to consider that Everything was Nothing, since Everything had been terrorizing me for 12 months, but It turns out it's Nothing. Who knew?


So with Nothing to stop me, some gentle encouragement from my band, and knowing Steve Sherrick was going to color correct the video (the same guy who did our video for "Autumn Spills"), I finally finished the video. 

The other day a colleague asked me if I had put anything new out, and I said "yeah, we just released an album in November". And then I realized it was a year ago in November. "Time flies when you're busy", he reassured me. 

Time flies when you're staring at a wall.... 

So here's the video. Directed, shot, edited by me, color corrected by Steve Sherrick. Let's pretend like it's a year ago. 

Sarah is nominated for Best Female Vocalist at the 2014 BMA's

Sarah has been nominated for Best Female Vocalist at the 2014 Boston Music Awards. There are a ton of great bands and musicians nominated, and the Female Vocalist category is particularly rich with talent this year. Voting is now open to the public, so if you are inclined to vote, please do so!

PHOTOS: Sarah Rabdau & Self Employed Assassins @ T.T. The Bear’s Place 11.15.2013

Creating a visual identity for an album : Part Two

The first entry for this “visual identity process” can be found here.

As I mentioned in my first post I had decided that I would use this W Magazine spread with Tilda Swinton as my “spirit animal” for visual inspiration. And as I also mentioned, I had to figure out how to create this vibe on my budget (which was basically non-existent).

Over the weeks/months/years previous to this release I had made a file of photographers and designers whose work I had liked, and one person that I had consistently loved was the NY photographer, Shervin Lainez. He works with a lot of well-known and unknown musicians and his work is bold and stylized and I knew I wanted something along those lines but I was insecure about approaching him and I assumed he wouldn’t want to do it. So I contacted a few other people… and then I didn’t hear from them. Which brings me to a main point I want to make. 

CREATORS - if you want to be in business, for real, you need to respond to people ASAP. If you can’t, you need to find someone you trust that will do it for you. There is seriously nothing I can’t stand more in artistic types than late response or lack of response, especially accompanied by wishy washy-ness. Everyone has bad periods when they fall behind in correspondence, but seriously… we are a dime a dozen. Survival Of The Fittest.

So, with that being said, I contacted a few photographers and designers and I didn’t hear from anyone, or if I did, their responses were indifferent. Not reassuring. One night I was drinking a martini and decided to just contact Shervin and see what happened, expecting he wouldn’t respond at all. I think he responded within the hour. He also checked in with me a week later to see where I was at in my decision making. No one else did that.

At the same time that I had made contact with Shervin, I also saw a post that the Boston band Mellow Bravo made on their facebook page. It was pictures of each of them done in a digital collage made by a guy named Michael Crockett. For whatever reason I saw this image and I thought, “I bet we could somehow create this natural/modern/Tilda/W Magazine world I’m thinking about through digital collage”.


And so I contacted him. He responded very shortly after, probably even that day, and then we scheduled a meeting that weekend.

Sarah Rabdau and Sophia Cacciola cover "Stay" by Shakespears Sister

So, to get prepped for our CD release on Friday November 15th at TT the Bears in Cambridge, Sophia from Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling (who is also releasing a pair of singles and videos that night) suggested we cover a song and do a one take video to help with promotion. We went back and forth on possible song options when Mike (from DNFMOMD) threw out the idea of doing "Stay" by Shakespears Sister. I immediately thought this was a great idea, but Sophia didn't really know the song that well. After we pulled up the video on youtube she not only got on board, but she wanted to do a remake of the video. This was hilariously fun to do, and significantly more difficult to pull off than a one take video. Vanyaland premiered the video on Friday along with the original video for comparison




Creating a Visual Identity for an album : Part One

A friend recently asked me about my process of trying to figure out artwork and overall presentation that goes along with the album. So, if you are interested, I thought I would talk a little bit about this.

Visual presentation is incredibly important to me. I really love this process, and it can often be just as difficult and time consuming as making the actual music. We spent a year recording this album (off and on) and throughout this time I was trying to dig deep and keep my eyes open for anything that would set off an inspiration alarm. I knew I wanted to come up with an outfit for the guys that would look sharp and match the music, as well as potentially have my sister make me an outfit of some kind. What any of those things looked like, I couldn’t tell you. I was pretty certain I didn’t want anything for myself that was form fitting or low-cut. I wanted something either genderless or … shaped weirdly. I couldn’t figure it out. My general philosophy is - I’ll know it when I see it.

But what if that takes forever??? …. It was.

I had to force my hand a bit. I knew that when I thought about visuals and listened to the first song we mixed for the record, “Arcadia” (the album’s title also comes from a lyric from the song, “As you sit there wondering how this flesh could belie the mind, sharp as knives, Free As Thieves, We are all young in Arcadia”), I kept thinking about this spread in W magazine that Tilda Swinton did a few years ago that I had adored and had been obsessed with. The shoot was space-aged, but natural. The lines of her clothing were minimalist, but bold. There were these bright cherry reds and whites that popped against bleak backgrounds and made everything look alive and out-of-this-world. And Tilda is just generally out-of-this-world. Well, I thought, why not go with this? Why not use these images as an inspiration and see where this leads me? And so I did. I finally had a starting point. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a fabulous budget to go with it, so I had to try and figure out what was possible with what I had.

Here are some pictures from the W spread. You should check out the whole Tim Walker shoot though:

“I have never thought of music as a challenge — you always figure the audience is at least as smart as you are. You do this because you like it, you think what you’re making is beautiful. And if you think it’s beautiful, maybe they think it’s beautiful.” - Lou Reed.

RIP Lou.