Every time we get a new song or video from Kerry Beyer it is just plain weird. Not the videos themselves, but the fact that these acoustic accomplishments are coming out of one of Houston's best and most acclaimed horror film directors. Oh well, a man's got to have layers.
His newest outing is a cover of the Beatles' "Across the Universe," and normally it's the kind of thing we'd skip here in the music video column. In addition to being a cover, which loses you points unless you do something over-the-top and ridiculous like Terrance Zdunich did with "Istanbul," it's more ore less just Beyer singing the song over a variety of special effects. The plethora of music videos that are little more than fun with filters has made finding subjects to write about a bit of a task. Even with these knocks against it this videos excels.
First, it must be said that Beyer's rendition of the song itself is masterful; fully doing justice to an iconic Lennon tune that showcases some of the best lyric writing of the entire Beatles catalog. Second, unlike the forced low-fi perspective you see a lot of indie bands using rather unoriginally in their vids Beyer shot the whole thing in beautiful, clear as a bell HD. Where another band would've made the whole thing look like you were watching a concert with sun spots in your corneas, Beyer carefully crafts his effects with stark lines and fractal patterns that keep order in the chaos... not unlike the universe itself.
It took only fifteen minutes to film himself singing the song in front of a green screen, but it was four full days of FX editing, and that effort really shows in the finished product. Maybe if more people put more thought into image manipulation in their music videos we'd be kinder to the style. So far only Beyer and Still Corners have had the chops to win high marks, and frankly Still Corners skidded by due to a massive crush we have on Tessa Murray.
The world doesn't necessarily need any more Beatles covers, but it doesn't necessarily need a lot of things that make it a lot brighter place. Beyer's little single is one of those things. Check it out below.
We sat down with Beyer to pick his brain on the execution of "Across the Universe." Click on over to page 2 for the interview.
Rocks Off: Why this particular Beatles tune? What's its specific meaning for you?
Kerry Beyer: It's this meditative kind of song about making peace with your place in the universe and being okay with all the shit that goes on around you. Empowering in a way - that no matter what, "nothing is going to change my world." At least that's my take on it.
RO: You've up your production values a bit, but you still seem a bit reluctant to unleash the full force of your filmmaking skills. Will we see you do so in the future?
KB: I know... I am reluctant in a way, for a couple of reasons. I've got such a great team behind me when I make a film, and I don't want to abuse their support. I know how valuable people's time is... and let's face it, there's no money in making a music video. There's no money in independent film, but at least it's a journey we can all go on with film festivals, reviews, awards, etc.
If I'm going to gain any kind of traction, it's going to be from creating consistent content on a regular schedule. So it's a balance of time vs. production value.
RO: People are going to say it looks like an acid trip. Comments?
KB: Yes, very much so... I wanted it to feel like an acid trip, stream of consciousness type thing to give it that throwback feel.
RO: A lot of musicians build nice followings with covers on YouTube. Do you worry that stuff like this will overshadow your originals?
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KB: That's always a concern, but if nobody finds my music, it's like a tree falling in the woods. With a cover, a Beatles fan might stumble across it and give my originals a listen and like them, and possibly become a fan.
I learned a big lesson promoting my feature film Spirit Camp - it takes a lot of money to swim in the same pool as the major studios. They have an endless amount of money, and can run national media campaigns and fully saturate the market. I tried that for a little while... I ran national print ads, and online, etc... and you run out of money real quick. Where as the big boys have ongoing media relationships and can leverage ad buys... you, as and independent, can't.
They key for us independents is to piggy back off the enormous marketing the majors have done. Covers do just that.