INTERVIEW BY SYLVIE BARNETT:
I recently had the chance to catch up with Bay Area based indie rock band Lender in support of the release their music video for “Take Your Time.” The highly dance centric music video featuring performance troupe Concept o4 has gained recognition from countless film festivals. Using time and motion as a vehicle, the music video attempts to examine how navigating spaces and obstacles together can strengthen any partnership. The song itself is a steady ethereal groove, which constantly grows in instrumentation and complexity. “Take Your Time” was featured on Lender’s last EP release Dad Rock for Moms. Read this interview to find out more about what makes Lender unique and discover more about the concept behind the music video for “Take Your Time.”
Can you please give me a little bit of background about Lender and how you first started the band?
We all grew up together, as far back as first grade. So we were friends before we were a band. A couple of us started learning how to play music together in middle school. So there was no definitive beginning but the band really came together in high school and has gone through many variations since. We officially became Lender in 2014 but the current trio (Jono Clay, Max Gustafson, Greg Moye) is coming up on two years.
What does your band mean name and where did it come from?
Growing up in Marin, we were constantly exploring nature. The Marin Headlands was a particularly special spot for us in high school. The name stems from a play on words from those times and we’ll leave the origin at that. Since becoming Lender, we’ve continued finding more meaning in the name. Now that we’re a trio, we often feature guest musicians, so there is a lot of lending and borrowing going on. We also leave you with high interest.
How do you describe your sound?
Our most recent description is post-indie psych Americana funk rock. So basically, we don’t know. There’s no doubt we’re heavily influenced by classic rock and early jam bands, but our personal tastes and influences are very eclectic. Recently we’ve been bringing in more modern influences, which you’ll definitely hear in our next release. We’ll never be satisfied sticking to one genre.
How did you come up with the concept for “Take Your Time”?
As for the song, it came together quite quickly. When I started writing it, the first words I instinctively mumbled out ended up being the final lyrics, which influenced the repetitive nature and mellow feel of the song. We were trying to play with the illusiveness of “time” and gradually layer the instrumentation so there is no definite beginning or end.
As for the video, we knew we wanted something ethereal to capture the mood of the song. Beyond that, all concept credit goes to the directors Natasha Adorlee Johnson (Dancer with ODC Dance) and Max Sachar (Feature Film Animation Manager at Pixar). We were introduced to Natasha, knowing she was an amazing dancer and had seen clips of some experimental videos she had done for her company Concept o4. So we were confident she would create something great. It was a surprise bonus bringing in someone from Pixar and the final product exceeded our expectations.
What was it like shooting the music video for “Take Your Time”?
For us, it was easy. We just stood and clapped for a few minutes here and there. As for the rest of the crew, it was a treat watching them work. Not only were Natasha and Max directing, but Max was also operating the camera, and Natasha was the choreographer and principle dancer in the video.
We only had one day to shoot and capture this complex single-shot video. It was an extremely cold day (by Bay Area standards) in a grungy parking garage. These dancers are used to performing in the most prestigious theaters in the world and here they were doing take after take on dirty cement. Their ballet shoes were trashed by the end of the day. Max was using a heavy handheld Steadicam with no other support and must have visited a chiropractor afterwards.
Another impressive aspect was that everything had to be planned knowing the video would ultimately be in reverse. So Natasha had to choreograph the dance with that in mind and she didn’t even have a chance to see the space before shooting. They also couldn’t perform to the song playing forwards because the choreography wouldn’t match up. So they were actually performing to the song playing in reverse. Natasha added audio cues to the reversed track so they knew where they were. It was incredible watching it all come together.
“Take Your Time” has been receiving a lot of attention from the film festival circuit. Can you please share some additional details about that?
We had no intention of submitting to film festivals. This is our first music video and we just figured we’d release it online and hopefully get some more exposure. But the unique collaboration with Max and Natasha was something we could not have anticipated and it turned into much more than a music video. So Max submitted to the film festival circuit, not really expecting much of it.
We were blown away by all the festivals the music video was accepted into, especially the Mill Valley Film Festival. Mill Valley is our hometown. It’s now even won several awards, including Best Screendance Short at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival.
We also traveled to Austin for the Austin Music Video Awards and Boulder for the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema. It’s been a whirlwind.
What inspires you?
We are inspired by our love of music. We started playing music for ourselves and that will always be good enough for us. But if we can share it with other people, all the better.
How do you push yourself further as a band? What do you hope to accomplish in 2018?
We do this because we love it, so we’re not trying to force too much. But like with any progress, we have to set goals and keep challenging ourselves. We’d love to get to a point where we have the means to start pushing boundaries and mixing more mediums. Take Your Time was a great start. We have all sorts of other ideas in case there are any angel investors reading this.
For 2018, we’re focusing on new recordings and plan to hit the road.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Do what makes you happy.