All the time that Gabriel DeSantis spent in his basement pouring over records by The Beatles, The Guess Who and Cat Stevens would end up serving him well later in life. DeSantis would eventually go on to discover Neil Young and Bob Dylan, two artists that would prove to be major catalysts in shaping his musical direction as a performer.
“My folks had their record player set up in the basement when I was a kid and I was fascinated by it,” DeSantis shares. “It was so big and foreign to the smaller, metallic gadgets taking over the market. I liked that you could hear the crackles and pops too; it was sort of comforting in a strange way.”
Performing under the name Whitebrow, DeSantis has made a haunting video for his track I Will Follow You Down, a song that shows DeSantis wearing his influences on his sleeve. He recently took the time to chat with MusicNerd.ca in regards to the making of his beautiful video.
A free download of I Will Follow You Down is available on Whitebrow’s Bandcamp site.
How did you come up with the concept for the video?
DeSantis: I had a skeleton of the video of the song completed when I started taking pictures but I was never working with a concrete storyboard to shoot from. When I started writing the song, I knew that I wanted to go in a different direction from the material that made up the first EP. The EP was very folky and at times crossed into the realm of folk-pop. I wanted to get a little darker and reconnect with the blues.
The video itself came quite out of the blue. I was fooling around with my camera and found that you can get pretty creative with stop-motion. I shot the opening sequence of the video on a whim and continued from there.
After the words were written and I had decided that stop-motion was the outlet I wanted to use, I thought it would be fitting to focus on someone trying to evade death. I had vague ideas of where I wanted the story to go but nothing was set in stone. Every day I would shoot new sequences, some that worked and some that didn’t. The whole thing loosely played off of Dante’s Inferno; I knew I wanted the goose-chase to end up in an underworld of some kind.
How many hours did it take to complete the video from coming up with the idea through completion?
DeSantis: The video is entirely stop-motion, made up of 1477 pictures. It was my first experience with stop-motion and at times it was tedious but after several cycles of trial and error I started to get a better handle of it.
The frame rate is 10 photos per second so one minute of footage is 600 pictures. Every day I would spend a few hours photographing a sequence (usually 200 to 300 photos) and then editing those photos. The editing was the most time-consuming aspect because each photo had to be edited individually.
I probably spent an average of four hours per day working on the video and the whole thing was completed in eight days.
Do you intend to continue the story seen in the video in the future?
DeSantis: I’m not really sure what I’m going to do. I left the video open-ended so there was the possibility to continue the story but I don’t want to force anything. I’ve sat through many terrible sequels and learned that it is tough to measure up to the original. If the right song comes along then I’ll do it, but only if it’s authentic.
Is making videos a worthwhile venture as far as you’re concerned?
DeSantis: Definitely. The talent pool is so dense these days, you have to do whatever you can to pull away from the pack. The power of the internet is something I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around. I look at the statistics for the video and see that it’s been watched in Indonesia, Ecuador, Ghana, all over Europe. These are places I’ve never been before. Ten years ago it was impossible to reach a global audience so rapidly. YouTube is an amazing thing in that respect.
Besides all that, I really had fun making the video. I enjoyed coming up with new ideas everyday. It was a good outlet for creativity.