2015 year end. DOWN AT HEEL // Fruit on Tongue by daniel davison

Here is a short collection of videos from my iPhone and GoPro taken throughout the year 2015.  From Pilsen to Prague, Idiana to Sweden.  And places in between.  The highs and the highs.  The dooms and the glooms.  Enjoy.

Bend out of shape, then bend back in.
I've brushed up on my trans-atlantic slang.  
too many days away, too many days at home.

Come O sunset of my life.
No, stay away.  

I'll touch the earth and be grateful
with earthlings soaked in luck and unluck
down at heel with fruit on tongue

the blood orange purple blue black sky melts the same for all
but only some feel its drip.
drink deep from the melt

the days carry on unlike dogs without teeth.
the earthlings carry on unlike dogs without teeth.

Behind the scenes of the mewithoutYou shoot by daniel davison

I don't think that I've ever put together a "behind the scenes" for any of my videos.  But after Drew, the First AC from the shoot, sent me a video he edited from iPhone footage he shot during the shoot and after looking back through the photos from the days surrounding this project, I decided that it'd be fun to share.  Starting from the initial testing of some of the ideas for the videos, to the travel, location scouting around Philly (which is always one of my favorite parts), to the actual shoot days... It was all such a blast.  The shoot was 4 very long but rewarding days.  Despite the insane hours and lack of sleep, every minute of these shoot days felt like a dream.  Getting to work with my friends Dustin and Drew again, and create with great friends and a great band.  I felt so lucky to be there making this video.  The behind the scenes video can be seen at the bottom of this post.

Initial flour and liquid tests.


After the treatment was approved by the band (after multiple conversations with Aaron, figuring out how to best visually portray the vibes of these songs) I spent a few days brainstorming and testing practical effect ideas that I had for the videos.  I had just returned from a US tour with Every Time I Die, and had a little over a week to get things in order for the videos.  

I flew to Philly 4 days before our first shoot day.  I spent these days scouting for locations and staying up way too late, both planning for the shoot and catching up with friends over beers in the park.  I walked and drove all over some of my favorite parts of Philly looking for locations where we could shoot.  Neighborhoods where I did a couple of different shoots over the 4 years that I lived in Philly.  I know these places well, so I knew that I would find what I was looking for.  I was really excited about the rooftop location that I happened upon.  I'd never actually been on top of that building before, which was exciting... I love the challenge of finding my way onto the roofs of vacant buildings.  I hadn't originally planned to incorporate a rooftop into the video, but the view of the city was so great, I knew I had to use it as a backdrop for some of the video.  It was Aarons idea that he and Kaysha camp out on the roof, and when we wrapped shooting that evening, they actually stayed the night up there.  If you know Aaron, this is no surprise, ha.  In fact, Aaron and I have stayed the night in some pretty rad places together over the years; with sand fleas on the beach in Mexico, in a lemon orchard on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, on a roadside cliff at Big Sur, in the Yosemite Valley, and countless urban and suburban houses across the US.

Location Scouting / prep work:

We shot the performance of "Dorothy" the first night.  The space was the vacant 4th floor of Founders Hall at Girard College, which is one of my favorite buildings in Philadelphia.  It was completed in 1847 and it's an absolutely stunning place (if you live in Philly, you can take a tour... I think on Thursdays).  Not so fun to carry all the gear and equipment up all of the stairs, but totally worth it.  I was super excited about making a one-shot video, but a little anxious about it, as well.  Especially with the transition between the two videos (with the mirrors and movable backdrop).  This was an idea that I had very early on in the brainstorming process (the mirror idea was inspired by a scene in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang").  I just hoped that the idea would work as well as how I saw it in my head.  Thankfully after getting everything set up, and seeing the first few attempts on camera, I was relieved to see that it was going to work, and work really well!

"Dorothy" / Founders Hall:  black and white photos by Adam Peditto.

The narrative portion of the video was lightly scripted, but I wanted it to feel as real as possible, so Aaron and I decided to leave it sort of open ended.  I had a plan of what I wanted to capture and where I wanted to go, but couldn't really have a timeline for it...  Other than knowing we had 3 days to get all of the content we needed.  I won't go into detail about all of the locations, etc... my favorite memory (even though at the time it was Hell) was waking up after 2 or 3 hours of sleep to head to the train yard in South Philly to try to catch a train.  We got there as the sun came up, and hid out in some bushes at the edge of the yard for an hour or so.  Soon enough, a train came through and stopped, and we went for it (according to Aaron, only having to wait for an hour or so is very lucky... sometimes you can end up waiting all day).  That whole section of the video is not scripted, we just had to shoot stuff as it happened, without any time to really think about it.  Once the train started moving, we were all so excited... it felt so free. 

We rode south into Delaware, unsure of how long we'd ride or where we'd end up.  We didn't really care.  We'd figure it out.  After stopping through a few different train yards, and laying low, we got a little bold and weren't really hiding out very well.  Climbing around on the stopped train, shooting all the while.  Then we were spotted.  Moments later there were rail workers on both sides of our train car, motioning for us to get off the train.  We silently climbed down and had to walk out to the next road, while they watched to make sure we actually left.  A rail cop met us on the road and interrogated us for half an hour or so.  We managed to sneak a few quick shots while this happened, which were included in the video.  We all left having only got warnings, no tickets or arrests, thankfully.  We figured out where we were in Delaware and how to get back to Philly using public transit.  We basically shot everything as it went down, which I think adds to the realness of the overall video. 

Back in Philly, the only things left to shoot were the powder scenes and the colored liquid scenes.  We shot the liquid scenes in the parking lot of a school in North Philly, about 5 blocks from where I lived a few years ago.  A bunch of kids from the neighborhood ended up coming over to hang out and watch as we filmed.  It took a little while to really get what I wanted with the liquid shots, but after a couple of different methods, we got it.  It was really a fun part of the shoot, there was a beautiful sunset, and we were all so happy. 

From there we went to the forest location, about 10 minutes away.  We shot in the pitch black woods of Fairmount Park using two hand held spot lights as our only lighting.  We shot well into the night, and by the end of the shoot we were all completely exhausted, most of us covered head to toe in flour. 

The whole experience of the shoot was fantastic.  Everyone who worked on the project are dear friends, which made the whole process that much more enjoyable.  I was really inspired and overwhelmed with gratitude throughout the whole shoot.  I already can't wait until my next project.  I can only hope that it will be as enjoyable and rewarding as this one. 

mewithoutYou - "Red Cow & Dorothy" premiere on Pitchfork.tv by daniel davison

The mewithoutYou video I directed premiered today via Pitchfork.tv and can be seen below.  This was a very special project for me.  My first music video ever was for mewithoutYou.  It was made as a spur of the moment birthday gift for the bands singer, Aaron.  My friend Casey and I were bored late one night (probably tired from dumpster diving at the Doritos factory or at the Kodak warehouse, haha) sometime early January 2003, and decided to make a stop motion video to one of the songs from mewithoutYou's then new record "Catch for us the foxes".  We made a stop motion video using a shitty minidv camera, and mailed it to Aaron a few days later.  The band and label ended up loving it and decided to use it as the official video for "Disaster Tourism".

Anyhow, it was special to get to work with long time friends.  We toured the US and Europe together multiple times back in 2002-2004, and have also done some traveling and exploring together outside of music.  So to create something together was a real treat... especially a project that lightly involved doing some very open ended travel.  These guys have always been an inspiring and amazing group of people/musicians.  I'm grateful to call them friends. 

For fun, you can see the very old (circa 2003) video I made for "Disaster Tourism" here.  Enjoy. 

Chicago cycling = medicine for the mind, body, spirit, and creativity by daniel davison

I recently returned from a US tour with ETID.  We were supporting The Used.  Marmozets and The Eeries were also on the tour.  Marmozets are the best band that I've had the privilege of touring with in a very long time.  And the best people, we instantly became great friends.  It was really nice being back on tour in the US.  Got to see lots of friends and family, and get back to some cities that I hadn't visited in some time, which was fantastic. 

Touching John Hancock Center

Touching John Hancock Center

But alas, I'm home in Chicago.  I'd been really missing Chicago and Lake Michigan, especially toward the end of the tour.  Biking to the Lake was first thing on my agenda when I returned home.   So a couple times in the last few days I've been able to go out for long bikes rides through the city and along the Lakefront Trail.  It's absolutely the best way to see Chicago.  Everything about it is so good; finding new (to you) hidden corners of the city that you might otherwise have never noticed, getting to see all of the public and street art in the city, riding beneath the towering and beautiful architecture of downtown, and riding along Lake Michigan for miles and miles.  It's also inspiring to see how many people are out doing the same exact thing.  I love it.  It really is medicine for me in so many ways.

I stop at multiple points along the way to have a walk around and take photos with my phone, maybe have a cig, or maybe a cup of coffee.  These photos were taken today (Saturday, May 9) and 2 days ago (Thursday, May 7).  The juxtaposition of the weather and vibe of these two days was pretty incredible.  Today was supremely foggy, windy, and cold, while Thursday was literally the absolute perfect Chicago day one could ask for.  85 degrees, sunny, with a nice constant breeze.  That's one of the things that I love so much about Chicago, you can never really guess what the weather is going to be like on any given day... or even at any given hour, really.  It's always changing.  I like that. 

SWEDEN: 2 shows, old friends, Sunshine, beers, and lots of coffee. by daniel davison

I love Sweden.  I've loved Sweden since my first trip here in 2006.  I came here with Norma Jean in the Fall of '06 to shoot two music videos for songs from "Redeemer" ("songs sound much sadder" and "Blueprints for future homes").  We stayed in Skellefteå for a few days shooting videos with the bad ass guys from Popcore Films.  The highlight of the trip was the last night BBQ at one of the directors parents houses, on the Baltic Sea.  This is where I first experienced a wood burning hot tub.  We soaked in the hot tub, then would jump in the freezing cold Sea, then back into the tub.  Repeat.  How could one not love Sweden?

My second trip to Sweden was a quick stop in July 2011 with Underoath to play the Peace and Love Festival.  Had a great time even though it was such a short stay.  Got to see The Stokes, M.I.A., and Atmosphere play.  A quick Google to remember when this fest was resulted in finding this dumb photo of me while playing the fest, haha: 

So yesterday was my first time back to Sweden since 2011.  This was my first show in Stockholm.  Had a great time!  Here's a little video from the show.

Got to see some old friends from Blindside, whom I hadn't seen in years.  It was so good to see them.  Before the show they took me for a beer in the Södermalm neighborhood of Stockholm, which was really nice.  After the show we went to a great bar called Gondolen, which overlooked all of downtown Stockholm.  Was a very inspiring and life giving evening. 

Today I woke up in Gothenburg.  Immediately headed out in search of Coffee.  Ended up spending a few hours reading, drinking coffee, and eating amazing pastry at a fantastic little cafe De Matteo.  Was a perfectly crisp day outside, the sun shining bright. 

Before the show I was able to explore the city a bit, walking toward the sun for a mile or two.  The light was incredible.  Found a perfect patio bar at Barabicu.  Enjoyed a beer while the sun set.

On the way back to the club, I couldn't help but stop for another coffee at De Matteo.  The show was another great one.  Had a ton of fun playing to a bunch of new people.  Stoked to come back, hopefully soon! 

Now we are off to Antwerp. 

OSLO by daniel davison

Had a fantastic day in Oslo.  The weather couldn't have been any better.  The high afternoon sunshine created brilliant night/day high contrast shadows all over the city.  The sun seemed to stand still for most of the afternoon hours.  It seemed to be always in my eyes.  It was a welcomed brightness. 

Spent a few hours walking around and exploring the city.  Walked up to the top of the beautifully designed Oslo Opera House.  Walked a footpath through a really quaint residential area for a stop at Tim Wendelboe the supposed best coffee in Oslo.  It definitely did not disappoint.  By far my favorite cup of coffee that I've had on the whole tour.  The shop was tiny and very welcoming.  The 3 baristas were so nice and helpful. 

We played a show at Rockefeller, which was really nice and centrally located in the city center.  The show ended up being one of my favorites of the tour. 

Afterward I met an old friend I hadn't seen in many many years.  He booked Norma Jean to play his Festival in Norway, which was our first ever show outside of North America, way back in 2001.  We walked about 20 steps from the venue to Bar Robinet to catch up over a few drinks.  The bar was exactly what I want in a bar.  Small, dark, simple tasty drinks, and good music.  It was the perfect end to the night.  The company and conversation were inimitable. 

Already can't wait to get back to Oslo this June.

Oslo Harbor

Oslo Harbor