If you had taken take a wrong turn on the sprawling set of Chicago post-punk band Ganser’s latest music videos, you may have accidentally crashed into a wall. Indeed, rather than filming outdoors or using a green screen backdrop, the band tried an LED volume backdrop – essentially a range of high-resolution screens that can respond realistically to the movement of the camera, like in a video game. It’s the same technology Disney+ uses to The Mandalorian.
“When you think about the cost of building a complete set versus just being able to make one with this LED backdrop, it will have a benefit for people who couldn’t afford it,” says the co-singer Nadia Garofalo, who works in the film industry.
Alicia Gaines, the band’s bassist and fellow lead vocalist, was impressed with how the volume setup allowed virtual production supervisor Andy Jarosz to create a dynamic environment for filming: “Andy was adding trees and changing the on-the-fly lighting.” She adds, “I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of really fantastic music videos to come, especially from artists way bigger than us.”
For the disco-punk propellant “People Watching”, Ganser conceptualized a clip in which Garofalo lies in a hole while his bandmates bury him alive. The group took a short trip to the cornfields outside of Chicago during the winter to film exterior shots. Later, they decorated Resolution Studios with fake snow and corn stalks to match the backdrop. “It’s kind of nice to be like, ‘OK, we’re shooting it in the cold winter, but we don’t have to go out and dig a hole in the ground and be outside for 10 hours'” , says Garofalo. . “Rescuing crews from the elements is cool too.”
The ambitious foursome filmed it all during a marathon weekend shoot. “I was shot from the waist down,” Gaines recalled of the burial scene, “so I would bury Nadia in fake dirt and watch the monitor to one side, checking her lip-sync. This was our hardest video to make.
For “What Me Worry?”, a more resonant experimental track that will appear alongside “People Watching” on Ganser’s upcoming album Nothing you do matters EP they reversed the action, this time with Gaines escaping from the grave. They also removed the camera to reveal the LED volume setup, proudly showing off the prestige of their magic trick. “It makes everything so much more possible,” says Garofalo. “Even with smaller budgets where we can’t afford to shoot on these big sites or build these crazy worlds.”
The band’s adventurous nature also resonates in the music of Nothing you do matters, which they cut with Angus Andrew of Liars, who encouraged them to embrace experimentalism and play with vintage synthesizers. “It’s weird that the material everyone knows best from us is pre-pandemic stuff, and it feels like centuries and centuries,” Gaines says. “Having Angus in a room, for example, conducting while we were singing and really pushing us to go beyond where we were before was a joy.”
The band enjoyed trying out a few new ideas that will set them on the path to their next feature film, post 2020s. Just look at this sky. “We want to be very safe,” Gaines says.
For now, the opening of the Nothing you do matters the material informed the title of the release. “I think it’s a really positive headline and I hope people get it,” Gaines said.
“It’s almost like happy nihilism,” adds Garofalo. “It’s not the idea that ‘It doesn’t matter, so don’t do it.’ It’s like, ‘It doesn’t matter, so just do what you want to do.'”