Django Greenblatt-Seay has made 133 music videos, but never for any of his own bands.
That changed in mid-December when his quartet, Gramps, released a self-titled debut recording, a four-song EP that coincided with the creation of a video produced through his side project, Love Drunk.
Launched in 2011, Love Drunk is a collection of one-take music videos of various local bands created with sound recording equipment backed by from four to six camera operators. They are shot in the most unlikely of places—amid the mishmash clutter of a thrift store, on a desolate rooftop, in his own bedroom. The videos of such notables as Cursive, Icky Blossoms, and See Through Dresses are hosted on the Love Drunk website and premiere simultaneously on the Hear Nebraska site (see related story on page 48). Both organizations exist to support local bands and their fans.
“This isn’t meant to be art,” says the former member of Midwest Dilemma. “It’s about connecting. It’s about being able to get an idea who you might want to see this weekend if you’re not already familiar with the bands we shoot.”
And as for the claim of not setting out to make art? We’ll let that slide, but the videos belie what one would expect from a one-take, all-or-nothing approach to an art form that too often is given to overly glitzy productions where the music itself can seem almost an afterthought. There is nothing herky-jerky or amateurish about a Love Drunk video. The works are eminently watchable and engaging—a juxtaposition of the raw and the refined, the simple and the sublime.
Greenblatt-Seay, who by day works in video project management at Union Pacific, has slowed a pace that once had his team shooting a video nearly every week. That’s because he partnered with JJ Dreier in 2013 to create Tree Speed, a time-lapse video project that has the pair traveling to wide-open spaces all across the western states in capturing dramatic footage of night skies in some of America’s most iconic settings, including Utah’s Arches National Park and South Dakota’s Badlands National Park (where the photography accompanying this story was shot).
While Love Drunk is a decidedly social—and loud—affair, Tree Speed sessions are a serene, contemplative, Thoreau-esque communal with nature.
“I’m really bad at taking vacations,” Greenblatt-Seay says. “And when I do fit one in, it always seems that I’m trying to turn it into a video project. Instead of just enjoying myself, I’m always looking for what I’m going to film next on the trip and how I’m going to do it just right.”
This doesn’t mean that Tree Speed’s journeys are all rest and relaxation. He and Dreier may drive for as many as 18 hours straight through to a destination only to scramble to unpack, set up, and carefully calibrate their array of gear in a race against sundown and the canopy of stars (fingers crossed for a clear, cloudless night) that will follow.
“Once we’re set and the conditions are as optimal as we think they’ll get, we hit that button…and then there’s nothing…nothing to do for two hours” while the camera does its thing, Greenblatt-Seay explains.
“You feel so very small” under the vastness of the heavens, he says. “It helps me understand my place. It’s beautiful.
“And I finally get to relax,” he adds, “even if it is only a two-hour vacation.”
Visit lovedrunkstudios.com and treespeedphoto.com to see the videos.