As a visual marketing firm, Small Creatures looks to partner with artists, businesses and organizations which contribute something unique and valuable to their respective community. One part of this focused effort is a specialized music + visual partnership, a.k.a. the Sponsored Artist Program.
As a part of the Sponsored Artist Program, Small Creatures collaborates over the course of several months with an artist or band to develop a comprehensive set of visually branded materials. For the third iteration of the program, Small Creatures is proud to announce its partnership with Charlotte-based musical outfit Bless These Sounds Under The City. To mark the event, Small Creatures’ Creative Director Will Davis and BTSUTC’s Albert Strawn and Derrick Hines discussed the collaboration.
Albert – The relationship between BTSUTC and Small Creatures began when Derrick and I were at the Ancient Cities listening party for their latest album “Supermoon Blackout”. I was talking to Stephen Warwick and he told me I should get in touch with Will Davis from Small Creatures to work on a music video because he thought we would make a great team. I applied Stephen’s advice and reached out to Will the next day. We met up soon after at Will’s house and everything felt fun and comfortable and it still does. Stephen was completely right. Thank you Stephen.
Will – After our initial contact, Albert and Derrick met with Tracy (Small Creatures’ editor) and I to discuss potential music video routes. After getting a sense of what they were hoping to accomplish with the new album and connecting with the music, we began developing a visual strategy for BTSUTC. As things progressed, we realized tiers of corresponding projects were needed to fully accomplish our collective vision. Small Creatures has a Sponsored Artist Program where we work with bands we believe are making unique contributions to music and BTSUTC was a perfect fit in this regard. Our past artists (Ancient Cities and Longshoreman) yielded some great work, so we’re excited to be able to share the first results of our collaboration.
(L to R) Small Creatures DP Erik Murphy and Dir. William S. Davis, BTSUTC’s Derrick Hines and Albert Strawn
Albert – At the time, I had recently figured out the glockenspiel could be played with a bow and wanted to put it in a song. I overheard Derrick writing and playing piano in the other room and I felt inspired and decided to join him and started trying out the bow on the glockenspiel. It was the first song we wrote together and it was one of those songs that came together immediately.
Derrick – Albert and I had both started to come out on the other side of a deep depression when I started playing with those chords and beat. When Albert came in the room with a bow and glockenspiel I knew we both had to sing. I scribbled a few phrases and Albert started singing an impromptu thing: we both agreed we should just repeat everything like a loop and weave both of our separate parts together. If you think about it hard enough you can see how the song mirrors what happens when you’re depressed: you feel isolated and alone in your feelings, then you start to crave isolation because no one else ‘gets it’, but once you are shown you’re not alone (the two individual phrases weave together to form harmonies) you start to move through it (which is mirrored in the music). The piano represents the thickness of the emotions while the glockenspiel serves as the reminder of the light present in us all. The drum is the undercurrent of will and survival muscle memory that keeps you moving forward, no matter how slowly, even in dark times. I don’t think we would have put it together so seamlessly if we had set out to do it. It happened because we both needed to express and share those things at the same time. That happens a lot with us.
Will – Listening to the song and the band’s music in general while searching for a visual language to use, a dark, magical mood kept emerging. We shot with a camera that only recognizes ultraviolet light. This felt perfect given the intimate nature of the song, like we were able to creep not only into a secret world, but that we could see into their skin alongside the song. To achieve this, we built a constellation of light around the band with some dark textures as well and Erik (Small Creatures’ DP) sculpted his movements based around the music and performances until a version was crafted we were collectively happy with.
Will – Small Creatures is going through an exciting transition into a visual marketing firm. We’re about to launch our new site with offerings to artists, businesses and organizations which
Derrick – We’ve got some more collaborations with a Small Creatures in the works (that’s all I’m saying about it) and the possibility of some remixes being cooked up. We’ll continue to do select live shows but are going to focus on getting our visual representation caught up with the musical releases.