Recently at Blank GC we got to know local music maverick Greg Barnett, who earlier this year delivered an impressive 30 song suite, ‘The Flat White Album’, in homage to The Beatles’ ground breaking ‘White Album’. As previously established from chatting with Greg, the album was conceptually inspired by both the minimalist white artwork and track length of the ‘White Album’ and its diverse and trailblazing sounds, which left an indelible impression upon Greg in his youth. The album’s title also doubles as a reflection of Greg’s preferred choice of caffeinated beverage.
You can revisit our original chat with him here.
Greg wrote most of the 30 songs that constitute ‘The Flat White Album’ on his acoustic 12 string guitar (he’s also proficient on the piano) as well as producing the album himself in his home studio, where he was able to embellish numbers with additional instrumentation and orchestral flourishes.
Since its release Greg has been far from idle, following up with a new creative endeavour to deliver video clips for as many of the albums 30 tracks as possible. So far he’s up to 26, with video number 27 in the pipeline. Even more impressively, he’s achieved this in a mere six months with the total running time of the clips clocking in at 1 hour 48 minutes (and counting), which is the equivalent of a feature length film!
To gain an insight into the process, Greg took time out to fill us in on the life of a maverick video clip producer..
Do you have a favourite video clip out of the 26 you’ve produced so far to support the album?
While ‘favourite’ is not the word I would use, two videos that ‘mean’ the most to me are the climate change songs that bracket the album: ‘The C-Bomb’ (Track 1) and ‘Earthrise’ (Track 30). I was so invested that I added visual prologue/epilogues to the actual album tracks. Both videos still cause me immense sadness when I watch them.
How long, on average, did it take you to do each of them? (or is that a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question!?)
It’s a long string, made from lots of different pieces, cut and re-tied many times haha! The video project for the whole album began with some basic rules: good ‘stories’ to support the music; no misogyny; no miming/dancing; a G/PG rating; and absolutely no images of me!
While I had storylines in mind, practicality required something different. On a tiny budget I could neither afford actors nor more than two basic (but excellent) stock-image site subscriptions, one being a rarity that offered multiple clips for each film making idea. Along with a few free sites, it was simply a case of trawling images until I found things that visually clicked and then tailoring them to convey the song. Each completed video required several sessions to get to the final release version. The searching for images took two – three hours (the last 20% of images usually taking 80% of the time). The editing required four – six hours for trimming, sequencing, transitions, effects, and timing with the music. An odd mixture of creative joy mixed with utter tedium!
Which clip proved to be the most challenging?
‘Fairytale’ (Track 11) required children! My kids are almost 40, and the grand kids are still in nappies. Anything to do with kids these days is a minefield and one feels creepy just asking anyone, but a friend kindly offered to direct and film his own kids for some simple scenes! For the main story, I had the idea of using poseable dolls to produce a stop-motion product. Ordered online, the dolls were not anatomically accurate, static poses would ‘drift’, and they were quite unstable on their feet, so true stop-motion was impractical. But at least they looked good! While I had to keep changing the visual approach, I think the result is watchable, quirky, and quite different from the other videos that use slick imagery.
With 26 videos completed and the 27th on the way, the remaining three may prove impossible within my means … ‘Agincourt’ (the battle), ‘Human Stain’ (folk mythology), and ‘Down Here’ (a zillion Australiana references).
To check out the dazzling array of clips that Greg has come up with for his album, check out his Youtube channel.
To wrap your ears around ‘The Flat White Album’, together with a bunch of creative extras, (including sheet music, karaoke versions, the ‘making of’ story and those music videos), head on over to: clancys.com.au/The-Flat-White-Album/The album is also available on the majority of digital streaming platforms, including Spotify, iTunes and Google Play.