Above: Video #26, “What Do I Do” - the official half-way point of my “One-Song-a-Week” Experiment!
This week’s music video is for the song, “What Do I Do,” from “The A.P.T. EP” – i.e. my very FIRST album!!
INSIGHT INTO A SONG:
Before I get into the song itself, let me give you some background on “The A.P.T. EP.” In short: it was a disc I made in college as a result of interest I had built in my music from some of the students around campus.
Much like I did with the “Obama Obama” song, I was known around campus for taking current songs, and changing them up for my voice message greeting. I did this over the span of 4 years, and people knew I was the guy to go to for parodies.
When I hit my senior year, I wanted to put out a whole CD of parody songs, along with a few of my own original songs as well. I bought myself a drum kit and a Pocketstudio, and, over the span of a few months, put together “The A.P.T. EP (This is ONLY a Demo)” I added the “demo” tag because I knew that, since I was sampling other people’s beats (and, in some cases, blatantly re-using them), I had to let people know it was strictly for demo purposes (just in case a big-wig record company guy ever came across it and said, “Hey… this guy used somebody else’s beats!”)
Anyway, I gave a few copies to my friends, as well as some people who didn’t know me too well but liked my music. This was 4 years ago, when I was still in college.
Since then, I’ve made other musical disc (see: “Check the Resume,” “The O-Bama Mixtape,” and “The A.P.T. LP”), and, in the hustle and bustle of life, I managed to misplace all the copies of “The A.P.T. EP” I had made all those years ago.
Then, I went back to my Mom’s house 2 weeks ago to help her pack up the house for her move. In the process of going through my things, I managed to come across two copies of “The A.P.T. EP,” still in good condition!
I was ecstatic! I went to run an errand in my Mom’s car (still don’t have one of my own yet) just so I could have an excuse to listen to the first disc I made so long ago.
Man… it’s weird to hear the first set of songs I made. I made it in 2004, so some of the references on the songs are outdated, and the songs I parodied aren’t relevant any more. As for how I sound on it, I think I was still going through my “trying to sound like Eminem” stage, as a lot of the songs and concepts I used were similar in style to what he would have done at the time.
Nevertheless, it’s still a pretty good listen, and, even in my recording infancy, there were some songs I made on there that stood out.
One of the songs is the one I chose to make a video for this week, “What Do I Do?” It’s a song where I talk about my realization that (a) girls have finally started to show interest in me, and (b) that it took so long for them to notice me that I had no idea what moves I needed to make to keep her interest.
Even though I wrote this song 4 years ago, I remember exactly how it came about. I was sitting in our school’s cafeteria one day, eating alone (which, for the record, was on PURPOSE – I like spending time alone because it allows me to think of creative things to do… like, for instance, build this website!). As I was eating, I saw this cute-looking girl sit about 4 seats to the left of me.
I’m quite an observant fellow, and I noticed that, as she was eating, she kept looking over at me. It was one of those looks that said, “I wish this guy would talk to me – he looks kind of cute!” (Note: that’s not me being vein, it’s me being observant.)
Little did she know, though, that my interaction with girls prior to her sitting down had not always gone the way I wanted them to go. There have been many times in my life where I’d try and go after a girl, only to be shot down with a “No,” or would end up in a situation where I thought a girl liked me, only to be fooled later when, after being the “friend” that was always there for her, she’d end up liking another guy instead.
Even when I finally was able to figure out if a girl was interested in me, I still didn’t know what moves I had to make to keep her interested. Of course, I know now that if a girl IS interested in you, you don’t really have to DO too much (other than respect her and spend time with her). But for the place I was at in my life at the time, I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say or think of a way to start up a conversation…
So, even though I thought she was cute and single… I did NOT make a move. I just continued to eat, staring straight ahead until she finally got up from the table, in a frustrated, “why didn’t he talk to me” type of way, and left.
After she was gone, I immediately took out my pencil and my writing journal, and started penning the words to the song. I basically wrote out what I would have liked to say to the girl about WHY I didn’t try to holler at her.
At the same time I wrote this song, though, I was still in recording mode for “The A.P.T. EP,” and knew that I wanted a sing-songy type of song, similar in vein to the song Emimen recorded for his daughter Hailey (from “The Eminem Show” – I can’t remember the song name now!). I just so happen to have downloaded a beat from soundclick.com that was perfect for this type of song – I could “harmonize” on the first two verses, then come in at the end with a rap verse that summarized the song.
Even to this day, this is one of my favorite songs that I’ve recorded. It’s an honest portrayal of where I was a that time in my life, but I’m sure the song’s sentiment is one that shy guys deal with all the time when it comes to handling the opposite sex!
Some Interesting Song Tidbits:
1. When I download other people’s beats these days, I make a note to save the beat with the name of the producer – that way, if they take the beat down, I can still contact them and ask them for beat use. 4 years ago, that wasn‘t the case – I did not produce this record, but have no idea who did. And – seeing as it was 4 years ago – I don’t even know if that person is still on the soundclick website. However, to make sure I don’t get sued, I can’t sell the song – thus, this song, along with the rest of “The A.P.T. EP,” is a FREE download!
2. I recorded this track using a 4-track recording Pocketstudio 5, which, at the time, I thought was the best machine I could by to record songs, at an “affordable” price (I think the machine costs me $250 or more). Nowadays I use a computer program called Samplitude, which can definitely record more than 4 tracks. Still, it was a pretty cool machine, and the fact that I could double up my vocals for my songs blew my mind!
3. The second verse of the song is a musical retelling of the events that happened in the cafeteria that day that inspired the song. And, like the song says, I really did go out of my way to ignore her, but only because I didn’t know what I would say to her, and therefore found it pointless to say ANYTHING to her. For all I know, we could be getting hitched today had I made a move!
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT:
I knew I wanted to shoot a video for this song… EVENTUALLY. Just not this week.
I still have two more video shoots to go for songs off “The A.P.T. LP,” and the plan was to actually shoot a video for “Hooptie” this week.
However, I DO have a life outside of making these music videos, and sometimes things have to be rearranged.
I wanted to use other people in the last two videos I have for the album because I feel they are two of the stand-out songs that will be huge “hits,” and I didn’t want to have to stifle my visions for those videos simply because time schedules by either me or the people I want in the videos were out of wack.
At the same time, though, I knew I needed a video for this week, and I already had an idea for “What Do I Do” that was simplistic, easy to shoot, and would get my point across for the song.
The video shoot itself came about by accident. I had gone to a job interview that day, and had used my brother’s car. After the interview was over, I had one simple mission: drive the car back to where my brother works so he could drive me home during his lunch break.
One problem: I got lost! I haven’t been in D.C. that long, and most places I go involve me catching the bus/train. So, even though I had been to his office a few times, it was usually with map-blasted directions, which I didn’t think to print out this particular time.
Yada yada yada, I end up getting to his office an hour later than expected. Because of this lateness, I had to sit around in the cafeteria for 2 hours while he finished up his work day. After I ate some Chinese food, read a book, and called up another place for a job interview, I got bored.
So, I walked over to the lobby of the building, where there was a desk and a chair, propped up next to a wall that had a background with wallpaper containing green leafs in its design. Being bored, I started thinking: “hmm, it would be nice if I could shoot a music video of some kind here…”
And, of course, I had my laptop and camera with me (like I always do – well, most of the time). I didn’t know how much time I had to record something, but I figured I had at least a good 30 minutes before my brother would be done with his work.
The shoot itself was very, VERY simple. The idea was to simply record myself staring into the camera pensively while the song played, not mouthing a single word until the rap part of the song comes on. This was to give viewers the idea that the song itself was actually being thought by me rather than sung by me. The look I have on my face is one of distant disbelief: for the first 2 verses I don’t blink AT ALL, and when I finally start mouthing the words of the song, it’s still like I’m in a state of “why does this keep happening every time I meet a girl.”
I shot it with the green leaf backdrop because… well, it was better than using a non-decorative wall, that’s why!
Once the video was shot, I packed up my stuff, right around the same time my brother came out of his office and was ready to go!
Some Interesting Video Tidbits:
1. After a few pre-production shots, I shot the video itself in ONE take.
2. My original goal was to try and not blink for the ENTIRE video. However, the location of the lobby where I shot this thing had a vent over it, and was blowing into my eyes the whole time. Eventually, I HAD to blink.
3. This isn’t the first video I’ve made where I use ONE shot for the whole video. However, it IS the first video I’ve made where I didn’t use any cut-away shots combined with fast camera movement. (My video for “A.P.T. (What’s My Name)” came close, but there’s a cut with the censor bar in it midway through the video.) Again, I really wanted the emotions to read off my face, and felt that using extra cuts would take away from that.
4. After the 1st minute and a half of holding that camera, my arm started to hurt. That’s why camera looks shaky at times – its not even that heavy, but it takes a LOT of effort to hold something so awkward for such a “long” time!
5. After I shot the video, my brother got mad that I used his work place as a site to make videos. He was all like, “what if someone had come out and seen you?’ and blah, blah, blah. He cares very much about what people think about him – which is all good – but sometimes, I’m just like, “I could give a flying crap about that, I have a goal to accomplish.” Besides, I wasn’t even making noise in the lobby!
6. Estimated time for editing the video: well, the editing itself only took about 30 minutes. It was the publishing that took the longest. Since there’s only one section of the video where I mouth the words to the song, I kept having to republish the darn video because, once it was done, I’d find that the mouthing of words didn’t match up to where they were being said in the song. Estimated publishing time: about an hour and a half!!!
That’s all for now! By the way: This video represents the half-way mark of my little “One-Song-a-Week” experiment. Remember the goal, people: one music video every Sunday for ONE year – only 26 more videos to go!