For a large portion of time, music videos where a key and vital element of an artist’s output. Through the medium of video, artists where able to showcase and express their musical art in a new fashion whilst bringing their craft to new audiences and demographics. Music videos swiftly became integral and crucially vital to the promotion of a new release or to a band as a whole, with labels once supplying vast amounts of money in pursuit of a visual musical experience that would allow their artists to dominate not just the radio waves, but the screen as well.
Of course, as we all know, the once lucrative music video industry wasn’t to last. With the dawn of streaming and the age of instant gratification, television channels dedicated to presenting music videos swiftly found themselves obsolete and unprofitable. MTV, the platform that originally bought the art of the music video to the masses abandoned musical content in favour of tepid reality TV nonsense. Scuzz, the channel that once premiered new music videos from the likes of Paramore, Avenged Sevenfold and All Time Low, came to an erupt end in 2018 when it ceased broadcasting midway through Bowling For Soup’s ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’. Even Kerrang TV, the last barren bastion of alternative music on television, is on it’s last legs and is no longer directly linked to it’s magazine counterpart.
Of course, music video’s in the realm of the alternative scene are still being produced, but are no longer seen as a highly profitable or lucrative medium and are definitely not a strictly vital element of the promotion of a new release. Such content created today is forged out of passion, love, and often on shoe-string budgets. There’s still a place for the medium of the music video, but it’s relevance and it’s standing as a crucial aspect of a band’s career is forever waning. However, that’s not to say that some bands are not pumping in tremendous amount of efforts into the creation of such pursuits however. One such artist that see’s their music videos as crucial as their primary sonic output are Cardiff’s prime electro-punks Nightlives.
Those hailing from the South Wales will region will likely acknowledge their namesake with a secret knowing smile. For those outside the area, Nightlives have swiftly become a beloved presence within the Welsh alternative scene due to their violent electronic swagger, voltaic life presence and fervently infectious energy. However, one of the main reasons for their spreading fame is due to their music videos and visual output. Disregarding the typical formulations of the medium, the group have created accompanying short films for their singles, with such movies contrasting with the stereotypical conventions associated with music videos produced by artists at their level. Despite the DIY ethos of the band, such videos display a strikingly high level of production and contain cinematic set pieces that set them apart from their counterparts. It’s a fact that the group proved with the video for this year’s ‘Under The Radar’.
A viscera caked tribute to the infamous slasher flicks that gained highly publicised controversy at the end of the millennium, the music video for ‘Under The Radar’ quickly set the local scene alight, with the track being shortlisted for the category of ‘Best Music Video’ at this year’s Cardiff Music Awards. With the video, the group become known as being more than just the Welsh capital's answer to Enter Shikari. Nightlives quickly became hailed as the group who where pumping fresh live and energy into the often stale creation of DIY music video’s, with 'Under The Radar' containing a level of polish that effort that separated them from their respective contemporaries.
Even with ‘Under The Radar’ and it’s respective visual experience pushing the band to new heights and allowing the group to be experienced by a new wave of people, the band have lately outdone with themselves with the video for their latest single for ‘Ways Of Making You Talk’. A cinematic experience that simultaneously pays homage to and satirizes the action and ludicrosity of espionage films, ‘Ways Of Making You Talk’ is a 10 minute short film that see’s Nightlives double down on world building, production vales and cinematography. Even with the video still being a DIY endeavour, it was achieved with a budget, extensive storyboarding, foley, makeup artists and a vast amount of collaborative effort. With this in consideration, it's no surprise the highly explosive track and video have launched Nightlives into the spotlight of their regional scene and beyond. We recently spoke to Dafydd Taf Richards, vocalist and electronics of Nightlives, to discuss the video, it's creation, the inspirations responsible for the film and more. Watch the video for 'Ways Of Making You Talk Below'.
How Did Nightlives Start Creating Cinematic Music Videos?
"Me and Ryan James (Guitar) are massive Horror fans. In University, we used to stay up until the early hours of the morning watching every single horror film we could find on Netflix. We always talked about making our own horror film, it was an idea that we had for years, and we eventually toyed with the idea of doing a horror-themed music video. When we finished writing Under The Radar, we knew we had found the perfect opportunity to finally do it. The next few months were filled with an intense shooting schedule, and the finished product is something that we’ll always be extremely proud of. We knew that our next video had to be bigger and better, so we started building this fictional universe. It’s been so much fun to bring it all together."
In Terms Of The Video For Ways Of Making You Talk, What Were The Key Inspirations?
"Just like with Under The Radar, as soon as the song was finished we knew what the video had to be. When it drops into the beat, it’s got secret agents written all over it. Our major inspiration was obviously the James Bond movies. We threw so many cheeky 007 references into the video. Theres also a lot of inspiration from Kingsmen, John Wick, Mission Impossible and the like."
What Was The Creation Process Of Ways Of Making You Talk Like?
"We shot the video on a very low budget, but we were able to realise our ideas and create some huge cinematic sequences. We shot a car chase with drone shots, a laser trap escape, a party at a manor house with loads of extras, a fight sequence… the list goes on. We had makeup artists, on-set dialogue, foley and sound design, and for the dialogue scenes that take place outside of the song itself, we actually wrote and recorded a cinematic score based on themes and motifs from the song. It was a lot of work, and there was an intense editing process (big up to our director and editor Craig). It was all worth it in the end, and we couldn’t be happier with how it all came together."
Do You Think The Way People Consume Music Videos Has Changed Over The Past Several Years?
"Definitely. With the decline of music channels and music TV, music videos have to become more than just a means to get the song heard. For a music video to be noticed in the online world and in a climate where its so easy to just release a song via streaming planforms, a music video has to be a piece of art in itself. That’s an ethos that we’ve kept in mind while planning and making our own music videos."
Ways Of Making You Talk Is Your Second Big Cinematic Video After Under The Radar, What The Was The Recording Process Of It Like That In Comparison?
"We ran into the Radar filming process with a storyline and a few cool ideas, but for Ways of Making You Talk, we wrote a whole-ass screenplay. There were dialogue scenes, camera directions... it was pretty ambitious, and it needed a few edits (we’re still gutted the parachuting scene didn’t make the cut). All in all, we had a lot more planned out for this video, and we had already built the foundations of the shared universe in which these videos are set, which meant that we could make links between them. We hope people pick up on those links, they should become more apparent in future videos!"
What's Coming In The New Year?
"We’re already planning single three, and we’ve started writing a screenplay for the video before we’ve even finished the song! We’re hoping to also release something a little more substantial than just a single in the coming months, so we’re busy putting plans in place for that. As well as new material, we’re hoping to hit the road and bring our live show to the far reaches of the UK and maybe beyond."