My latest video project, which I’m extremely proud and excited about, is my band’s music video! Making this video feels long overdue, as I had wanted to direct a music video for my band (The Family of Man) for a while but never had a song and concept come together. After creating our third album “The Way” it finally happened. The video is for our single “Bittersweet Relief” which is a song that Wilfred wrote for the especially collaborative album.
We always create our albums deep in the woods on week long retreats from the city life (you can read more about that HERE), so it only felt appropriate for it to be the setting of a music video. As far as the concept, I wanted it to really reflect the spirit of the band. There’s a certain magical element to the process of us getting together and making these albums. It often feels like an alternate reality. getting away from the constant buzz of the city and leaving electronics by the wayside ends up having a regressive effect on the mind to where we are able to act instinctually, freely, and childlike. It only felt natural for us to play the song on instruments that could perhaps grow from a tree trunk, or are a little larger than life.
Shortly after proposing the idea to the band, the logistics began to fall in place. With the help of two extremely talented Fellow Filmmaker Friends (FFF’s for short) Jaena Sta. Ana and Alexander Collins we were able to realize the project seamlessly…and have a great time while doing it.
Wilfred Galila (Co-Director / Bandmate / Creative Partner for Life), Jaena Sta. Ana (Producer / The Eye in the Sky / Skywalker Gangsta) and I went out to location scout near Muir Woods about a week before shooting and found some excellent locales rich with forest greens and large behemoth rocks. A week later, with Aliyah Cline (Third Bandmember / Life Long Friend / Insane Other Half) and Alexander Collins (Director of Photography / Visual Extraordinaire / Fellow Videogame Nerd) we set forth to shoot. Through tons of laughing, mediocre burgers, and an occasional rap came the music video. The entire day felt like an extension of the trip to Humboldt which made the album – and the result was a video that captured the same spontaneous energy found in the music. I couldn’t be more happy with the result. I hope you enjoy it as well. If you like it, you can download the entire album for FREE right here.
Thanks for watching! Stream the full album below.
Spontaneity is what my acoustic-folk band “The Family of Man” has always been based on, but one thing that has so far remained a constant is: we record an album every July. However, circumstances for this latest batch of songs which will make up our third album (hopefully completed in a couple months or so) were still informed by one rather spontaneous change: where we record. It was only days before we were planning to make our annual trip to Mendocino to record in that same storage container that produced the previous two albums (Inside The Box and Heads in the Sky) that we found out that circumstances at the property would not allow us to be there for the amount of time we would need. As fate would have it, however, we were able to contact another wonderful couple who lives in the Humboldt forest and has hosted us for several visits during New Years. Without a second thought we adjusted our trip to the north to go…further north.
This new space is a small plot of land down a long windy road which then becomes a windy dirt road, which then becomes a small house hidden within the forest. A small river flows right behind the main house, and much like our previous recording space, there is a smaller hut outside of the main house across the garden and past the beehives. we call it “The Honey Hut”.
This is the space the vast majority of things were recorded during our 6 day stay. using a portable recording device we would one by one spend some time in the Honey Hut adding our individual parts to a growing puzzle of songs. Getting the process started is always one of those things where you just have to throw yourself to the wind and hope it’s all going to piece together in the way we collectively heard it in our heads. After some rough first takes, and a little quality control with the recording process, things started to flow.
In a very similar way to how “Heads in the Sky” was conceived, these songs were all formed over the previous year and played for each other either in rough GarageBand demos passed digitally, or in band practices. One notable difference is that, for the first time, I wrote several songs for the record. Where both our previous albums were formed from song ideas originally from Wilfred and Aliyah , this album will be the first where all three of us contribute songs.
When I initially was writing the songs that have now been recorded for this album, I was simply writing them out of necessity and personal release. Formed out of some rather rough emotional times that went down over this previous year, I found myself needing to just have a creative release that was a bit of a faster turnaround then my other creative outlet: filmmaking. conceptualizing, writing, casting, directing, and editing a short film is often a process that takes me over a year to complete. Writing a song is something that can be completed in a matter of days, and it was what I needed. These songs were really just a form of medication for me, never really intended to be something more than a way to work out whatever it was that was driving me crazy in my own head. Through sharing them with Wilfred and Aliyah it started to become clear to myself that Family of Man songs aren’t really defined in any other way than songs that the three of us hear in our heads and actualized through the recording process. The songs I wrote became redefined as Family of Man songs.
To say I’m nervous about them being heard is an understatement. However nerves and excitement can often be close relatives.
The recording process felt far more exhausting than previous years. 2 major things had changed which influenced this: we decided to record every single instrument / vocal separately as to have the most control in the mixing process (and ultimately have the highest quality sounding album yet) AND…we had about 4 days less than we normally do to record the album. Needless to say, this is not the greatest combo. The challenge was taken on with full force however, and we would spend literally every waking hour doing something that was contributing to the album. if someone was cooking dinner, another one of us was recording a part. If one person needed to take a nap, the others recorded. In fact, on one of the rare moments all three of us decided to take a break and go to the river to relax for a bit, we still brought the recorder to document the journey…and some sound clips from that made it onto a couple moments on the album. Towards the end of the process, I was beginning to feel a deeper connection to the insanity of Jack in The Shining.
One thing we discussed as far as how we wanted this album to sound compared to the others was scope of instrumentation. We wanted to include a broader range of instruments throughout the songs and experiment more with things that we had previously only briefly tapped into. The album contains the instruments we’ve used before (guitar, percussion, flute, ukulele, piano flute, bongos, etc.) but also includes some new ones (saxophone, banjo, piano, a wider range of percussive…objects, and a moment with a choir of friends belting along with us).
The songs all occupy their own land in many ways. “Hero’s Journey” has a psychedelic western feel, “Twin Sized Bed” alternates between backcountry twang and a foot stomping folk-march, and “The Way” is an expansive gospel-infused sing-a-long.
I’m incredibly excited to release this album so you can hear what we’ve heard for the previous months. I’m currently mixing the album (which is becoming a much longer process then our previous albums due to how this was recorded) and hope to get things to a point where we can announce a release date as soon as possible. We will be releasing a bunch of behind the scenes videos from the trip through our Facebook leading up to the release, as well as all the announcements concerning the album like track list, album art, release date, and more. “Like” us on Facebook for all the updates.
UPDATE: The album is now out! you can download / stream the entire thing all for FREE below:
It’s certainly a tradition to watch Fireworks on 4th of July, but for my acoustic freak folk band “The Family of Man” it seems to be a growing tradition to record an album in the Mendocino forest. The organic nature of how the band formed has become something that has paved the way for how we deal with writing and recording music – and has informed me personally of the importance of spontaneity in art.
It was last year that the band formed simply by deciding to bring some musical instruments up to my close family friend Chris Campbell’s property where he lives with his longtime girlfriend / partner in all things weird – Blake More. The property is just an acre, but loaded with inspiration and history (Check out tons of pictures HERE). They’ve converted what used to be a tool shed into a small home painted from floor to ceiling in loud colors complete with a cozy deck, a rustic feel, and complete with 2 flush toilets and plenty of hot water for their outdoor shower (for those skeptical of the sophistication of these lovable hippies). Among the property you’re sure to spot a retro full-size school bus which has been gutted of its seats and converted into a living space complete with a couch, fridge, stove, fireplace, cabinets, and a full size bed. Another testament to creative use of space the entire property evokes. Parked next to it is Blake More’s biodiesel art car, and near that is a small trailer painted a loud pink with a painted on black picket fence which is Blake’s walk-in closet. Further down the road is what can only really be described as a “Space Pod” – which you can sleep in, and at night will glow with its glow in the dark stars stuck to the inside. Finally, there is a giant shipping container parked at the top of their short road. Inside hold Chris’ drum kit (he’s in a couple local bands) and is nicely sound-proofed with carpet on the walls. Needless to say, the property is unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Throughout our 10 day stay last year – we constantly found musical inspiration and would quickly meet in the shipping container with a small digital recorder and work out the structure of a song – only to record a live take all together huddled around a well placed mic / recorder. It was unclear at the time if these were gonna be demos, just for fun, or simply a way to remember ideas, but the process continued day after day – to the point that we often would spend nearly the entire day inside – only to step out for food breaks. The songs we’re being written quickly with a focus on capturing the original energy from which they spawned. by the end of day 5 (when Aliyah had to leave to head back to civilization) Wilfred and I continued to patch some things up, mix the album, sort through the tons and tons of takes we had made, and finish a couple overdubs for the only track that would contain any overdubs – “For You“. We came out with 31 minutes of music and decided this was indeed an album. It was Family of Man’s first album which we decided to appropriately title “Inside The Box” referring to where it was all recorded.
You can listen and download our entire first album FREE below:
The spontaneity of the recordings is of course immediately apparent. several tracks were formed just from leaving the mic on during some late night jam sessions and later creating a structure by splicing things together on the laptop. Others were one time takes of songs we had only briefly planned out. And some were hammered out by simply doing takes over and over until we got one we were satisfied with. The common thread was these songs were never to be over-analyzed or too thought out. The motto became “just record it”.
Over the course of the last year – Wilfred and Aliyah would sprinkle my email inbox with acoustic songs they had crafted. The songs were rough GarageBand recorded demos that we would all share some brief thoughts on, and hope to one day record. Flash forward to just the beginning of this month, it was again time to go to Mendocino for our now annual trip. After 5 days of relaxing, we spent 5 days non-stop recording.
This currently untitled (but don’t be surprised if it ends up being called “Heads In The Sky” *hint hint*) album was a new approach of recording for us. Perhaps much more traditionally, we recorded base tracks that consisted of one but sometimes 2 or 3 elements of the song – and worked off that with overdubs much like how a more traditional in-studio album would be. Still using the same recorder in the same shipping container box with the same mindset – but these new techniques actually provided us with a way to offer a higher quality recording and a more well-mixed album.
Currently I’m still in the process of mixing the album, but in it’s current state it undoubtedly sounds like “The Family of Man” – just an evolved form. Perhaps the best way I can describe it is to use the words Wilfred used – it sounds like a old 50′s jukebox album dipped in acid. This batch of songs sound timeless in their arrangements and melodies but with a psychedelic edge that keeps things feeling fresh. Some draw from prohibition era music of the 20′s, while others from the doo-wop sounds of the 50′s. Formed primarily in our heads and through emails beforehand provided us with the ability to have a concrete feel of where these songs could go during the recording of them. Many took off to places we had not expected, while others stuck closely with their GarageBand demo counterparts. You will still find a couple of tracks on the album that are simply one live take with little to no overdubs, but fans of the first album I think will be in for a treat with the higher fidelity recordings contained on this album.
I know I speak for Wilfred and Aliyah when I say we cannot wait to release this album. It’s an exciting thing to be able to record an album and release it a month later – so the wait will not be long. If you want to keep up with all the announcements (title, tracklist, cover art, release date, etc.) as well as a short series of behind the scenes videos we took during recording – make sure to follow us on Facebook HERE!