AshevilleLocal News: Asheville and Hendersonville

MVA feasts on Midnight Snack’s stop-motion smorgasbord

Ian Ridenhour reaches out, in a poignant moment of his video “You Help Me Fall Asleep” by Kira Bursky.

By Pete Zamplas – The Asheville-based band Midnight Snack won the Music Video Asheville judge’s choice award as the overall best video for an intricate stop-motion animation.

The award was among many in the 11th annual gala, in the Diana Wortham Theatre with Prestige Subaru as title sponsor. There were 27 videos accepted into the contest, which is about half of those submitted. The event fully sold out for the first time, MVA Producer Kelly Denson noted.

Midnight Snack is an “art pop” band blending psychedelic rock, indie-dance sounds and folk. The band is in Asheville, after emerging in Boston. Members are Jack Victor on vocals and drums, Katie Richter on vocals and trumpet, Michael Johnson on guitar and synthesizers, guitarist Zack Kardon and bassist Peter Brownlee. Several are grads of Berklee College of Music near Boston.

They won and Echo Mountain Studios recording time for their self-made video of their dreamy alt-pop ballad “Magic,” from their third CD. They said it took “countless” hours to prepare for, shoot and edit the video. They noted that Johnson conceived the idea of stop-motion animation, and he and Brownlee created paper machete images of a mountain top and paper cut-outs of the five band members that were propped up on mini-stands.

The figurines and the surface they were on were moved in a series of still shots, to simulate continual motion. This includes crawling through a cave, climbing up a cliff, and changing postures while sliding far downhill.

Judge Brian Adam Smith makes films, videos of roots music, and teaches world cinema at Clemson. He knows what is behind a product that can look much simpler than it is. He told The Tribune that he and other judges were very impressed with the intricacy of Midnight Snack’s video, the time put in on it a section at a time over a year, and that the band did it themselves.

Smith is among the half-dozen celebrity judges in the music and related industries. They decided on the judge’s award, but no other awards. The video screening/selection committee decided on other awards, but not people’s choice.

People’s choice and its $500 prize went to Andrew Anderson Films’ video of hip-hop rapper TEYG in “My Life,” as it got the most audience votes on smart phones after all videos were shown a big screen. Anderson-TEYG won that popularity last year, as well, for “Unconditional.”

Their new video about reality of life in the projects was shot in Asheville’s Pisgah View Apartments, where TEYG grew up, and often with a group of youths gathered. TEYG now lists Ellenwood Ga. as his base. His brisk lyrics in “My Life” include “if you act like a ‘ho’ (whore), you get smacked like a ho.”

The best song/soundtrack honor went to Carly Taich of Asheville, for her serene “Give Me a Likeness.” Award co-presenter Michael Selverne later commented on Facebook that “Carly is a disciplined, trained and awesome musician. And a delight to work with,” when she was his session musician.

Taich is among eight finalists in the fifth annual LEAF singer-songwriter contest May 12. Two of the eight contestants are from California, another from New York.

Cinema Foundry (CF) won an award for each of its two videos in the contest. One was best cinematography on country rocker Don Clayton’s “Pray Me Over.” The main character justifiably kills an abusive man, flees, then in the end seeks redemption by getting baptized in a river.

Best editing went to CF on the fast-paced video of Secret Agent 23 Skidoo on “Mozartistic.” Skidoo (SAS23) won the Grammy a year ago for best children’s album, for Infinity Plus One. The “King of Kid Hop” raps in the video, often in a purple suit and top hat. His real name is Joel Sullivan, and he is 41. He was an avid skateboarder as a youth in Asheville. He is now based in California. He often plays as Skidoo at LEAF.

Joining him on “Mozartistic” are quick images of pianist Orion Weiss’ hands, and Asheville Symphony Orchestra and local youth musicians playing Mozart snippets reorganized as if rap record scratching. There is actual vinyl scratching, by Marley Carroll, a leading locally-based hip-hop DJ. Indigo DeSouza does backing vocals. The song was the theme of the Asheville Amadeus festival early last year.

Best visual design for telling the story in imagery and acting was awarded for “You Help Me Fall Asleep” of Ian Ridenhour. Kira Bursky made the video, as All Around Artsy. Teen alt-rock keyboardist-singer Ridenhour is its leading man and musician.

His lyrics are on suffocation yet soothing, in teen love. Bursky conveys that imbalance, and also what she said is the central theme of emotional connectivity. A zig-zagging light that looks like electric current links Ian with young co-star Lindsey Whitus. This is as they each glance glumly upward, while laying down side by side.

The couple is linked again by a leash, as he chases after her in rain along a hazy lake. Bursky thus uses degrees and shades of light to reflect mood shifts. She spotlit part of Ian’s bright red-dyed hair, and flashed energy currents onto his face. Ian’s reactions are pivotal, in the ebbs and flows. He enjoyed having most of the video filmed in his room.

Last year, Burksy’s video of Ridenhour in “Dancing Children” shared the judge’s award with Brie Capone’s “Scars.” This time, the MVA awards show opened with Ridenhour live on piano as he and Capone sang. The song is their collaboration, on his latest CD. They recorded it when sharing some of the studio time they each won. Ian, who turns 19 in June, is heading this fall to prestigious Berklee.

The MVA compilation of videos led off with Bursky’s other entree, Ryan RnB Barber’s “AVL Funk.” Illusions included Barber’s singing mouth in place of his eyes, while in contrast his actual mouth was shut.

Two of the better known and earthier lady singers in town got much applause for their videos. Leeda “Lyric” Jones did “Focus on Us.” Stephanie Morgan, with her new fully-improvisational pop-rock band Pink Mercury, presented the very abstract “Send Nobody Up,” with a brilliant array of colorful and geometric special effects.

Marisa Blake was clever as the host. Her husband, Josh Blake, is a music producer (Iamavl CEO), engineer and guitarist. He won the MVA award for the founder’s achievement award.

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