I specifically remember the first time I heard Megson.
It was early 2014 and I was staying in the Holiday Inn, Farnborough. I’d been ‘living’ in that hotel Monday to Friday for three months while I worked on a project in Aldershot and was already thoroughly ‘over’ being in the Holiday Inn. Unbeknown to me at the time I’d still be there for another year after that. Only people who have had to stay in a hotel for extended periods understand the desperation of having long ago exhausted every single option on the food menu and every available topic of conversation with the hotel’s barman (compounded by the fact he spoke little English and I spoke no Greek whatsoever…)
The silver lining was that I spent a lot of time listening to music. I was listening to some folky artist on Spotify one evening (can’t remember exactly who) and through the fans also like feature I landed on Megson. The track I heard was The Longshot. I remember playing it on repeat for the rest of the evening and thinking it was one of the cleverest pieces of songwriting I’d ever heard (I still think that now). I spent months after that repeatedly listening to the rest of the Megson catalogue on Spotify and have been a fan ever since…
Roll forward four years and I’m standing in Stu and Debs’ kitchen, about to film a video for the title track from their new album ‘Contradicshun’ and having a slightly weird moment; how did I end up standing in my favourite band’s kitchen?! I decided to stop thinking about it and get on with the job in hand, just in case I started acting like some nutcase fan!
Anyway, it’s not like I haven’t worked with Stu and Debs before. I’m fortunate to have photographed them a few times (their last two albums have featured artwork based on images taken from those shoots). I also filmed a documentary with them for the release of their last album ‘Good Times Will Come Again’:
Last last year, Stu sent me a draft mix of the new album and asked what I thought about tracks for a video. Once I’d got over the fact that (once again) I was getting to hear the new Megson album before it was anywhere near being released, I replied to Stu saying I was drawn to Contradicshun, the title track:
“Because it’s rhythmically driving, it lends itself to visuals. Length wise its a good video/single length as well. I’m visualising footage of you guys performing, but then when we edit it together, we break the screen up so that there are always multiple frames in view. So two thirds of the screen could be you performing while the other third is a close-up on an instrument playing. Then we could switch to say, the screen split in half with the bottom half containing you guys performing and the top-half with a close-up of you doing something mundane like washing up or something. So these frames would appearing and disappearing. The effect would be that there’s always multiple things going on so it creates tension for the viewer in regards to where they’re supposed to be looking…”
Somehow Stu seemed to make sense of my garbled explanation and sent back links to a couple of reference youtube videos he’d found; one was footage from a Beatles concert where the screen was split into two with both sides playing the same footage but with one very slightly delayed. I think it was actually a technique being used to avoid copyright detection on youtube(!) but I agreed that it did look cool. We later used that effect in the Contradicshun video during some of the mandolin clips….
Putting the video together, we were going for something that would look slightly abstract. In keeping with that, we deliberately wanted to frame everything quite tightly so it would create this intense and claustrophobic feeling; that also lent itself to filming in the house as filling the frame meant we didn’t have to show much background.
Talking of filming in the house, Megson have these two crazy little dogs that were belting around throughout the filming. In one clip where Stu and Debs are sitting in front of a curtain, I was watching them singing through the viewfinder and I could see the curtain moving behind them where the dogs were running around!
The only other visual feature of the video worth noting was the high-key look. That was basically down to Stu and Debs’ kitchen being white rather than something I’d specifically planned, but I kind of liked it! I played on that in post using some kind of bleached technicolour-like grade that I came up with just messing with curves…
The video got released middle of January. I’m really pleased with it; in the main it’s pretty much how I’d originally visualised it and looks completely different to other stuff I’ve made.
Plus, Megson are in it 🙂
You can hang out with Megson too; they’re on tour!
31 JAN MALDON, MAC Theatre Maldon Essex
01 FEB THAMES DITTON, The Ram Club
02 FEB WHITCHURCH, The Talbot Theatre
06 FEB LONDON, Kings Place (Album Launch Party)
07 FEB UPWOOD, Upwood Village Hall
21 FEB MANCHESTER, Band On The Wall
22 FEB KENDAL, Brewery Arts
23 FEB BARNSLEY, The Civic
08 MAR CHESTERFIELD, Library Theatre
21 MAR SALISBURY, Arts Centre
22 MAR LINGFIELD, VSS Club
11 APR SADBERGE, Darlington, Village Hall
12 APR HEBDEN BRIDGE, Wadsworth Com. Centre
13 APR GATESHEAD, The Sage
14 APR SALTAIRE, The Live Room
26 APR ALVESTON, St Helens Church
27 APR BROMGSGROVE, Burcot Village Hall
10 MAY DORCHESTER, Arts Centre