Once upon a time I moved to Austin and made a music video with a bunch of talented musicians, dancers, and video peeps. It was kind of awesome, stretched me beyond all get out, and is very near and dear to my heart. This blog is about how it all happened through amazing synchronistic events.
When I moved to Austin I wanted to pursue my dreams of dancing, singing/rapping and making music videos. I never really thought I was that good but I thought, what the hell why not try it out and see if it works.
I was telling certain people that I was a rapper even though I sucked at it because I wanted others to believe in me, but I also wanted to believe in myself. LOL. Have you ever done anything like that? Fake it till you make it? Yeah I’m seriously laughing at myself right meow.
One day I was riding in a truck on my way out to the lake when my friend Pavi said to everyone, “Hey you know Trinidad’s a rapper?”
And of course everyone looks at me and says spit out a rhyme. Flushed, feeling under pressure, and actually pretty high from the hit I just took I opened my mouth and out came the lyrics to the chorus of Set Us Free:
Over the hills
And through the woods
Down to Austin
Into the Hood
We party Everyday
It’s our own way
We help each other
Cuz you’re my brother
We know one another
It’s all the same mother
I couldn’t believe it just came out of my mouth. I had been posting on Facebook about doing a remake of the music video Hideaway by Kiesza. Sam Monreal had posted it on his feed and I loved the video because it made me think of the dance community of Austin. I love our dance community and we have so many talented dancers. So, instead of doing a remake of lip synching Hideaway, Pavi convinced me to make my own song. This began the journey of making Set Us Free.
When I had moved to Austin, my goal was to put positive messages out in the world through art, music or any means possible. Austin is full of people wanting to change the world for the better. When I started posting and asking people to be a part of this project everyone came together because we all believed in putting out a good message that would help people to be positive. We also wanted to show how free Austin was to express herself. Austin’s tag line is “keep Austin weird” and we pride ourselves on being a city full of unique human beings. This music video shows the individuality of a variety of people – we’re all weird and we don’t give a fuck what any one thinks of us. This is who we are and we are Austin. That was the heart behind this project and it was huge labor of love.
I had started out this project with tons of ideas. I wanted a scene of Ishani, Pavi and I pulling up in a pedicab. I wanted a live spray painting to be happening in the background to promote the spray artists of Austin; I was working with SPRATX to make it happen. I also wanted fire dancers and complete choregraphed dances. None of these fell through, but I still got to talk with a lot of talented people and I became friends with tons of people through all the networking.
I made a post that I was looking for someone to make beats for a song I created and tons of people responded. I told all my customers that went through my lines at Starbucks and Whole Foods, I told all the people I worked with, I told EVERYONE. I talked to my friends and coworkers Colton Fergurson and Mateo Nolan of Secret Levels and they had a guy that worked on beats. We met up and there were a couple of beats I liked but it changed the way the song sounded and I was okay with that. Then that person was unavailable to work with us because of some family issues.
I wasn’t worried because several people were sending me samples of the beats they had created. I ended up meeting Kiel Hames and Michael Hogan through a customer that went through my line at Whole Foods. They had a production company that made music and film. At the end of our meeting they decided they wanted to help make the music and the video but referred me to their friend Seamless aka Jinx Mcgee who made beats. I met up with Jinx and he made the beat track that went behind the vocals in a day or two. Everything was moving like clock work.
I had written out a rap for the song, but I only had the first and second verse. The track that Seamless made had 3 verses so I needed to chop chop. I kept telling people at Whole Foods that I was making a rap song and someone told me that Wil Fitts was a rapper. He worked in the food department. I went straight over to him and asked him if he was a rapper and we met up for lunch. I told him about the project and realized I was never supposed to write the 3rd verse — it was always meant to be for Wil. I sent him a copy of the track and told him to write something up about his experience of being in Austin.
As I was gathering up the vocals for the chorus, Michael Hogan was trying to teach me how to have cadence because I was lacking. He ended up writing up the first verse of the song just to show me how to rap and it helped me tremendously. I decided I liked his rap so much we kept it as the first verse. So Michael rapped the the 1st verse, I did the second, and Wil closed out with the 3rd.
The first person I asked to sing on the project was Jackie Tey who was one of my first roommates when I moved to Austin. I always believed she was an incredible singer and we would sing together on my piano whenever she learned a new song to sing. I loved those moments with her. She ended up being the main vocal for the chorus.
I met Christopher John Edwards at a party. He told me he was a musician and I told him about the project. When it was time to record the vocals he brought Tara J Lewis and they both knocked it out of the ballpark with their vocal ranges.
I asked my talented and beautiful friend Ishani Ishaya to sing and dance in the video. She also helped me to rewrite some of the chorus. Ishani was the person who introduced me to the burner community. My first experience at Flipside, which is the Austin regional burn festival, changed my life forever and motivated me to create this video. I will forever be grateful to this goddess for showing me the light of such an amazing music and dance tribe.
The power vocals are by Paisley Moore. I met her randomly at a hangout where she was in band practice with mutual friends. She was one of the vocals of the band and she sang me one of her opera pieces and blew me away. We had already recorded the vocals but I loved her voice so much that I asked her to sing on the project. She ended up being the power vocals in the background of the song.
The song was finished within a month. Next on the list was finding the dancers to dance in the music video.
The producers for the song were Kanixa Rae Satori, Pavi Babai-Piroz, and me. Kanixa and Pavi both helped me to organize the dancers. Kanixa, who is an amazing healer, hoop dancer and instructor, helped me to find the hoop dancers for the video. She introduced me to Jenn Racca and Taylor Pierce. Jenn became one of my good friends and she moved out to Los Angelos to bring hooping to hollywood scene. Jenn brought Jasmine Kienne the day of the shoot. I’ve grown to know Jasmine more through her Facebook and she’s constantly posting new videos of ideas she comes up with her hoops.
I had asked Genevieve Monroig to be the belly dancer in the beginning scene. I had seen Genevieve dance many times and I knew she was an incredible dancer. Genevieve performs all over in our Austin tribe and she also serves tea at West China Tea Company.
Jesse Moon was one of the first dancers I asked to be in the video. I met him at Flipside. We spent many nights dancing our asses off at different sounds camps. He was my other roommate along with Jackie. He’s a badass on the dance floor, absolutely hilarious and quirky and he’s also an incredible writer.
I met Maya Horgan Famodu on a dance floor. I think it might of either been a club or ecstatic dance. All I know is we broke it down. She’s very talented and even started her own company called Ingressive, which I believe is a company that helps investors to connect with African entrepreneurs. Maya choreographed the dance for the chorus and she and Randi Southard were the dancers for that part.
I met Randi in several different places, but the first time we actually interacted was when Danger Brook asked me to perform with her and Randi at the Swan Dive. It was my first performance ever and I was honored to dance along two incredible dancers/performers. Randi was one of the first people I asked to be apart of the project. She’s an amazing human being, with multiple talents and she even started an event avenue at her warehouse called Indra’s Awarehouse.
I met Maestro Giovani through Facebook. Someone had tagged him in one of my posts about the music video and we met a couple times. He let us use his house for practice because he had created a dance floor. He’s an amazing isolation dancer and he also makes beats. I also met BBoy Blitz through Facebook. He let us use his dance studio, Break Austin, for dance practices.
I still needed to find a director. Michael Hogan said he would do it, but got tied up with work. I ended up meeting Samantha Schell at Starbucks. She was one of my customers. I told her about the project and she wanted to be the director. I think it was one of her first videos she directed and I was grateful to have her expertise and skill on project. She came up with concept of each scene and the flow of the video. Since this music video she has written several screenplays and has directed her own film.
I also needed a videographer and editor. I got into contact with Mattias Alegro Marasigan and Thomas Zente. Thomas let us use his camera and he was an extra in the video. I wasn’t sure what Mattias role was going to be, but on the day of the shoot he took the reigns of being the videographer and kicked ass following Samantha’s lead. He ended up editing the project. He has a deep love for film and is also a vlogger and actor.
We shot the video in November 2014 and actually we filmed it as a run through and practice shoot. I bought breakfast tacos for everyone and we filmed a bunch of takes. Since I was a pedicab driver at the time of the shoot I wanted to show it in the film so we closed out the video with JP popping a wheely on his pedicab at the end.
When we finished it we knew we wanted to refilm it, but we couldn’t get everyone’s schedules to line up after that. Multiple people started traveling the world and we decided fuck it, it’s still an awesome song and video even if it’s not the best shoot. So we collectively as group decided to release it and share it with our friends and family.
It was my first music video I had ever worked on in Austin and it was the first project out of Austin Collective Art, which was a public group that I started to work on free art projects like this one. It was my first time rapping and most likely my last time unless I get some crazy inspiration or start practicing every day – which is highly unlikely – lol. This was one of the things that I created that helped me to believe in myself again. If you’ve read any of my blogs you’ll know that I needed to believe in myself and I needed to start over.
Sometimes you just have to get out and go do shit. Because when you do amazing shit gets created.
The video was a lot of work full of sweat, talent, and love. Thank you everyone who was apart of it! I love you all!!!
Music Video Credits:
Creative Director – Trinidad De Luz
Recording Studio – Mkikel
Beats creator – Jinx McGee aka seamless
Verse 1 Rapper – Michael Hogan
Verse 2 Rapper – Trinidad De Luz
Verse 3 Rapper – Wil Fitts III
Power Vocals – Paisley StarFire
CHORUS (written by Trinidad and Ishani Ishaya) – Jackie Tey
Bridge (written by Trinidad) – Jackie Tey, Christopher John Edwards, Tara J Lewis, Ishani Ishaya
Video Director – Samantha Schell
Video Producers – Kanixa Rae Satori, Pavielle Babai-Piroz, Trindad De Luz
Videographer and editor – Mattias Alegro Marasigan
Belly dancer – Genevieve Monroig
Hoop Dancers – Jasmine Kienne, Taylor Pierce, Jenn Racca, Kanixa Rae Satori
Hip Hop dancers – Randi Southard, Maya Horgan Famodu, Jared Driscoll, Jesse Moon, Trinidad Luz
Isolation – Maestro Giovani
Pedicab drivers – Pavielle Babai-Piroz & JP
Extras – Thomas Zente & Sirius Alchemy
Special shout out to Thomas Zente for letting us borrow your camera for the shoot and Bboy Blitz for letting us use your studio (Breakdance Austin) for dance practice.