RECAP: BUFFER FESTIVAL 2017

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This past week Crescendo attended Buffer Festival’s music screening to get an insight on producing music content for online platforms. Special guests included Andrew Huang, Charlie McDonnell, Ciaran O’Brien, Dodie Clark, Emily Diana Ruth, Leslie Wai, Meghan Tonjes, Michael Aranda, Nick Pitera, Rob Scallon and Whitney Avalon. Each YouTuber premiered their incredible and diverse music videos and shared their thoughts on creative blocks, the inspiration behind their music, finding a purpose and so much more.

OVERCOMING CREATIVE BLOCKS  

Dodie Clark, best known for her original and cover songs on YouTube admits she sometimes finds it hard to find new sounds. When asked if she has ever scrapped a song because it sounds too much like an old one she responds; "Yes I do that a lot. Honestly you just have to listen to music you wouldn't normally listen to - Spotify makes a discover weekly playlist that I find helpful for inspiration. I'm in a massive creative block, or at least I was until I came to Buffer. I've been recording on my phone when something is playing or someone says something cool. I would also say to just push through with whatever you do even if you hate it. It’s like turning on the tap and getting the crap water out first, but then the water will come clear. Pretty sure I stole that quote from Ed Sheeran.”

Rob Scallon, who is known for making music videos on his channel and coming up with amazing new sounds on his guitars is all about challenging himself. "Give yourself some arbitrary rule that you follow. Sometimes I make a rule with myself that I have to use a specific chord I haven't used before."

Vlogger, musician and video producer Michael Aranda admits that he depends on Spotify to expand his music taste. "I purposefully set up a playlist for myself that is totally across the board. So when I go jogging I play shuffle on spotify and make a playlist of weird genres - even if I don't anticipate writing a polka song I'll use elements and techniques from other styles of music."

INSPIRATION BEHIND THE MUSIC

Meghan Tonjes, a self-professed body-positive vlogger and musician tells us that she finds her courage to share her music through her belief that it can make a positive impact on body issues. In her new music video from her EP Phases, she proudly puts her body on display. "To be a critic is so much easier than to be brave enough to make something you're proud of and put yourself out there. I felt very uncomfortable in high school and always covered up but I surrounded myself with other women that were talking out loud about issues with their body. When I started YouTube a lot of the comments were 'I want to start music but i don't look right.' The internet is a place where you can find role models that are expressing themselves. The important thing about the music video is that I don't see a lot of people that look like me that are celebrating it a lot, by looking sexy and confident and being in full frame shots. Happiness is not a choice but there's an activeness you have to have in chasing it."

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To be a critic is so much easier than to be brave enough to make something you're proud of and put yourself out there.

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Nick Pitera, a vocal artist with several viral videos admits that the dreams he had when he was younger are what constantly inspires him. “Working in the arts is not always easy but for me it’s about honouring the dreams you had as a little kid. Now I’m a full time animator at Disney and these are things I always wanted to do but were not always safe or supported. But it’s important that I didn’t devalue those hopes and dreams.”

Dodie - "People who hang onto my mind are what I call the 'weighty' people - The people who I think of and make me want to burst into tears. Those are the people I write about. But also the people surround myself with who inspire me everyday."

FIRST SONG

Nick - "The first song I wrote was when I was in high school and it was called Better Days. I revisited the song because I thought it was cathartic to go back and revisit it when i was releasing my EP. I thought I owed it to teenage Nick."

Dodie -  "I was an existential 10 year old and wrote a song called wizard in the sky about God."

Rob - "Me and my brother used to make songs when I was 6. The first song was about bread."

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FINDING A PURPOSE

Charlie McDonnell, English vlogger, musician, filmmaker, and author speaks about his break from music, which had no specific reason other than he was focusing on other things. It wasn’t until The Gregory Brothers contacted him in an effort to collaborate that he thought about some of the personal issues he was going through that he thought would be best explained in a song. He explains that he feels such a purpose when it comes to music and he’s still learning to let go of what other people think when trying to pursue those creative goals.  "I would love to write a musical one day,” Charlie admits. “I think we go through ebbs and flows of feeling like we don't care what other people think and caring so much that it's debilitating.”

Dodie - "It’s very therapeutic to take the things you’ve been struggling with and use it to help - tie it up in a bow and it’s a present. And then you can move on. Explore the terrifying things and make something beautiful out of it."

Nick - "It’s important to me to dissect my motives - why are you posting it online? I've seen my relevancy go up and down and it doesn't stay - but what does stay is the motivation for me and the drive even if it’s only one or two people watching. If what matters is the attention, then it may not be the right path. I'll always love music and I'll keep playing even if only two people are watching.”

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It’s very therapeutic to take the things you’ve been struggling with and use it to help - tie it up in a bow and it’s a present.

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Whitney Avalon, best known for creating the Princess Rap Battle series on YouTube explains her complex relationship with the online platform - "The internet is a terrible place sometimes but if you have creative expression you should put yourself out there and the people that matter will find it. Today’s society makes us feel like we all need to do the same, follow other people. But feel free to follow your own path and decide what works best for you! Because that’s where you’ll find the most success.”

FILMING MUSIC VIDEOS

Canadian musician Andrew Huang who is best known for his Song Challenge video series premiered an especially impressive music video at Buffer Festival. What looked like a high budget and extremely professional video was actually filmed with a DIY green screen made up of construction paper. “Me and my girlfriend were in the middle of moving when I made this music video,” Andrew explains, “And all of it was very much DIY, low budget based.”

Filmmaker Emily Diana Ruth and cinematographer Ciaran O’Brien also provided some tips in how to get prepared for a music video, especially coming from a film background where the content comes first and the music comes later.

Emily - “When you make a music video the music is the centerpiece and you're making everything around that, whereas with a film the music comes later. So the planning has to be done around the music.”

Ciaran - “Pacing is what I think about the most. It’s similar to commercials in the sense that you think about how often you're staying on a shot.”

GETTING STARTED

Nick - “Half of it is the pressure of feeling like the first thing has to be so polished but just throw it out there even if it’s not perfect. Starting is the hardest part but it’s part of the process.”

Michael - “Iteration is key. you have to do it over and over again in order to get better. It’s overwhelming but break it up into steps. If you look at the big picture all at once it’s overwhelming but chunk it out."

Andrew - "I started my channel with a completely different kind of content. I never would have thought when I was making my first video that they would end up looking like what they look like today.”

WHAT BEING A CREATOR MEANS TO YOU

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Emily - "I don't think about other people I think about what I need to unpack in my own life, because otherwise you'll end up trying to satisfy everyone else. Focus on what you want to say. Don't care about what people want unless it’s yourself."

Megan - "Being a creator is not being passive in the world. It’'s not enough to experience life myself, I want to pass my experiences on and make the world better. When I make stuff I just want people to see I'm having the greatest time and I'm making something I would watch."

Leslie - "I like to think of ideas that have never been done before, I’ll purposefully look up things that haven’t been done. Later today I'm going to remix the Tron Legacy soundtrack."

Dodie - "When I'm at my worst mentally I want to give up but then I write my feelings down poetically and it turns out to be a song. That's how I deal with the world. When you strip away the social media and the pressure it boils down to me in my bedroom, writing songs. That's what being a creator means to me."

PHOTO CREDITS: Kristy Cheung

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