Around The World in 80 Music Videos: Skrat, Yesterdrive and Others Join Global Music Project
Advaita, Prateek Kuhad and Parekh and Singh also onboard the Brazilian couple’s global music project
Diana Boccara and Leo Longo had a perfectly content life. Residing in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Diana was a story producer for Brazilian TV series “Águias da Cidade” for Discovery Channel, while her partner Leo worked as a director for National Geographic channel series “The Brain,” and an impressive clientele history of channels like MTV, History Channel and Globo between the two of them. But a road trip in the USA, a little musical inspiration, and a whole lot of savings was all it took for the duo to trade in their cushy jobs for more than a year of globetrotting and documenting low-profile independent bands in every country they visited.
Dubbed ‘Around the World in 80 Music Videos [henceforth ATW80],’ the global collaborative project has its roots in a “very musical trip” that Boccara and Longo embarked upon in February 2014, that stretched from “Nashville to New Orleans through the Mississippi” [as Boccara describes it] and covered all the major breeding grounds of genres like rock, jazz [New Orleans], country/folk [Nashville] and blues [Mississippi]. “When we came back to Brazil, we really had a feeling that we should keep traveling and doing something with music,” says Boccara, “but since we’re not musicians ourselves, we thought of bringing something together with music and filmmaking.” It didn’t take long for Boccara and Longo to settle upon the idea of shooting music videos for bands from across the world.
However, it took almost a year of planning, plotting and independently putting together the global project, sans sponsorship or corporate funding. “We spent six months trying to get funding and sponsors. We approached every single company you could possibly imagine – from clothing to beverages to food to hotels to air companies. But since [at the time] it was only a piece of paper, nobody believed that two people could actually travel around the world and shoot music videos with bands we didn’t know,” says Boccara.
That’s when the couple decided to go DIY – they dug up their savings, sold the apartment, the car, the bike and anything else that brought them closer to fueling their project. By December 2014, even though the gathered funds were still not enough for their mammoth mission, Boccara and Longo finally kicked off the project on home turf in Sao Paulo, shooting 10 music videos with local bands in Brazil.
It was only then that they caught the attention of corporate giants like IT company HP, vodka brand Smirnoff, European airline Swiss Air, Airbnb for their accommodation needs, and a life insurance company who, now convinced of ATW80’s potential, offered financial and logistical support. Says Boccara, “Swiss Air heard about us and they loved the project. They said, ‘We want to be the ones to take you guys as far as we can take you,’ so they gave us the tickets to fly through Europe, Russia, Egypt and now to Delhi. It was amazing that they believed in us!”
Since [at the time] it was only a piece of paper, nobody believed that two people could actually travel around the world and shoot music videos with bands we didn’t know.”
Besides corporate backing, ATW80 has also racked up a modest following within a year of taking off. The project, which currently runs online [with social media backing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram], premieres a new music video at the beginning of every week on its YouTube channel, along with a separate ‘Behind the Trip’ video that tracks the making of each video. Whether it’s the no-frills, one-take sequence that characterizes all of the music videos, or the fact that the two film-makers sit down with the bands to dissect the song’s meaning and emotion to mirror in their video storyboard, ATW80’s creations are organic in essence. Says Boccara, “Every new music video is a new challenge. It’s very important for us that we try to get together the music and the image, and that the bands feel happy, comfortable and proud of the concept that we’ve created – it has to be a perfect marriage. So we always talk to the bands, ask them what the song is about, and that’s what we try to put in to the music videos.”
And even though the filmmakers agree that most of their hosts and the bands themselves become as good as family by the end of the shoot, finding fresh talent isn’t easy; Boccara and Longo have to claw through the clutter of the Internet to discover the bands. “We don’t have contacts with anyone from any band, so we search a lot-we read magazines, music blogs, festival lineups. Leo then listens for bands that have an independent style and behavior, are musically consistent, and that are low profile but at the same time, are into the web world. That’s very important for us because our project is basically online,” says Boccara.
So far, Project ATW80 traveled to 10 countries including Portugal, France, Italy, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Egypt and Russia, and have shot 31 music videos with independent bands-such as French indie rockers Moriarty, Portugese alt rockers Capitao Fausto and English rock band We Were Promised Jetpacks, to name a few- before they headed to India just in time to catch the Diwali fervor.
Here in New Delhi, ATW80 is taking up five indie bands-Delhi-based fusion band Advaita and singer/songwriter Prateek Kuhad, Chennai garage rockers Skrat, alt-rockers Yesterdrive and the youngest of bands, Kolkata dream pop duo Parekh and Singh. Although Boccara and Longo usually limit themselves to four bands in each country, the filmmaking duo were so fascinated by the Indian “creative and intense indie scene” that they decided to include a fifth band. There were also hopes for collaborating with a sixth band – Chennai electro rockers The F16s – who later backed out due to logistical issues.
Boccara and Longo’s first project in India was a video for Yesterdrive’s latest single “Dread.” Staying true to the song’s concept of overcoming fears and having fun in the process of discovering, the one-take video sees a dancer awkwardly making his way around Delhi’s Summer House Café. Longo explained, “The song is contagious and makes us want to dance every time we listen to it. So, we created a story of a shy boy, who would never feel comfortable enough to really dance like himself in front of others. With no one around, he just gets loose, surrenders to the music and dances like there is no tomorrow.”
Most recently, they released their second Indian video with Chennai garage rock trio Skrat– built around the noble concept of standing up and fighting back–set to their raging single “Machete” off their third album The Queen.
And just like most foreigners visiting India for the first time, Boccara and Longo underestimated the country’s multicultural capacity, directly reflected in the independent music scene: “We started to research the music scene here around three months ago, and we were blown away by what we found. There are a lot of different styles and so many creative things going on. I think also India is such a big country that you can seek influence from so many other countries or within the country itself,” says Boccara.
From the Indian capital, Project ATW80 is headed to Hong Kong, followed by Seoul [South Korea] Melbourne, New Zealand, USA and then South America by September 2016. And even though Argentina marks their 80th video and their last stop, the journey is far from over. “We know that when we go back to Brazil we’re going to write a book for sure, telling the experience narrating the experiences in every single country and music video, and what it’s been for us,” explains Boccara. “We have a lot of plans and we still don’t know what we could do because we have a lot, A LOT of footage and a lot of stories to tell. We’re building a very big network of people and that’s one of the most amazing things of the project.”
Watch the video for “Machete” by Skrat as part of the ‘Around the World in 80 Videos’ project below.
Watch the video for “Dread ” by Yesterdrive as part of the ‘Around the World in 80 Videos’ project below.