Anthony Natoli sent us a first music video called Solution shot entirely on his iphone. We were so impressed by the exuberant results that we asked him to share his process with Luna fans. Here is Anthony’s guest post:
Original Impulse This whole project began just as a New York winter was about to settle in and a Luna ukulele was given to me as a Christmas gift from my Aunt and Uncle. I found it incongruous to have such a beachy and summer sounding instrument making it’s introduction to me as snow was starting to fall. Not to mention I was on Long Island and not a tropical island. I thought it would be cool to write a Winter song on it so I learned a few chords and before I knew it this little riff came into being. I sent a voice note to John Secolo, my writing partner and band mate for over a decade, and we started to brainstorm ideas melodically and lyrically.
At this point music and visuals began affecting each other. We had worked on some commercials last year using story and vision boards, which I found helpful in finding sounds while considering feel and tone. I decided to make a Pinterest board, to help paint a more precise picture of the mood of the song.
The video wasn’t really something I thought of when the Ukulele riff started, but as this song was coming together I bought a new iPhone. I realized that the quality of video and photo I could get with the iPhone was really impressive, so I used the Pinterest board as a visual outline for the resulting video, and started exploring photography and video clips that conveyed the same feel.
Shooting Visual Content
It started snowing the day after I got the phone, so I took the opportunity to start a quest to capture what I saw in my head. I thought I would be shooting preliminary photography, but what wound up happening was most of that first day made it into the video. It was a magical moment where the possibility of this actually looking awesome was real. I would shoot ten seconds of footage at a time. A theme started to come together. The evolving song started to be strongly influenced by the visuals. I would ask myself questions like, “If this frozen lake could make music, what would it sound like?” Or I would look at a photo and say, “This is what I want to feel with this tambourine part.” It fueled me to wake up at 5 a.m. almost every day of January to catch sunrises. It made me take a rear wheel drive 1967 Dodge Dart out in the middle of a blizzard. The shots were taken very organically. I woke up one day and drove to Montauk, then found myself in the heart of New York City by sunset. It was really cool to push myself and inundate myself with the project. Early on in my study of photography, a couple of my friends told me that the best camera is the one you have with you, which is a lesson I took to heart.
Writing the song I laid down an idea of what certain elements could sound like and shared it with John. I believe that anything you put your attention to will grow and, because of the thousands of hours we’ve spent in the studio together, John and I have developed a symbiotic songwriting relationship. As we bounced ideas back and forth, the song wrote itself. Even though our process is generally quick and fluid, there is also a lot of attention to detail. Just as every note matters, every word matters. The riff actually started out in 6/8, but John felt it would be better for his melody to do the song in 4/4. From early on we wanted a second verse from a female perspective and had a talented singer, Sydney Sahr, in mind. I’ve been a big fan of her voice over the years since her first high school band. We reached a point where there was nothing else we could do until we had Sydney come in and record vocals. I sent her an email with pretty much everything we had up until that point hoping she would connect with the material. We were delighted when she responded immediately with a lot of enthusiasm, which really helped boost our confidence. There were many points where I was doubting the video or the song, but something kept us moving, whether it was the response from friends seeing a few shots I had thrown together or hearing the demo vocals John put down. The anticipation for its release was building.
Music Production The song was recorded completely in my home studio on Cubase software. It was very much based on great performance rather than being “perfect”. The first take was often the most authentic one so we just went with it even if it wasn’t flawless. Sydney came one afternoon and completely knocked it out of the park with her honest voice. John Nolan was actually a last minute addition to the song. When he saw the video he was blown away that it was shot completely on an iPhone. He jumped in and sang the bridge vocal and led the vocal chant. That was a really special moment. John has been an influence on me even before I met him. His band, Taking Back Sunday, was hugely influential in the scene we grew up in on Long Island so it was an honor to have him on our record.
The gang vocal was recorded at a friends coffee shop in Valley Stream called Sip This. I crashed an open mic night one evening, set up a few mics and taught the room how to sing along. Within two listens everyone got the melody and words which really surprised me. I brought the audio home, dropped it into the project file and it worked perfectly as a chorus with John’s vocal.
Video Production Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.“ ~ Goethe Sometimes there are advantages to not knowing what you’re doing. I started by placing all my clips in folders and watching them over and over again to pick my favorites and figure out how to piece them together. Then I dragged them into Adobe Premier to edit. At first it was a mess. I made a lot of mistakes, but I read an article on film making that encouraged me. It said “don’t worry about it…keep cutting,” which made me persevere until it began to take shape. So I would encourage others to do the same. Don’t be hard on yourself. Although I wasn’t sure of what I was doing at the beginning, I learned a lot along the way. There’s beauty in everything if you know where to look. Honesty carries itself. Though fear protects, one should be fearless in art. Be your own soul. And don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
All the people in the video are friends or family we know and love which lent an intimate feel to the film. Even the dogs (and cat) were beloved pets.
Many thanks to the band.
John Secolo – Lead Vocals/ Guitar
Anthony Natoli (myself)- Ukulele/Guitar/Bass
Nick Carbone – Drums
Sydney Sahr – Lead Vocals
John Nolan – Bridge Vocal
And to all the others who contributed their knowledge or words of wisdom along the way.