Self-Employed Assassins

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. 

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