Mike’s Last Show

Hi everyone – Matt here.  Just wanted to let you all know that Mike is leaving to attend medical school in DC this fall, so our show this Friday 8/1 @ T.T. The Bear’s will be his last show with the band, and it will likely be our last show for quite a while too.   The Bynars are still going to release music, but we’ll be taking a break from playing shows after this one.  There are some projects in the works, but not the types of projects that involve playing out or touring.  More on that later.

Besides becoming one of my dearest friends over the past 6 years, Mike and I have always pushed eachother creatively, perhaps more than anyone I’ve ever collaborated with.   I credit Mike with spearheading some of the biggest creative leaps we’ve taken with this band, and I credit him with proving to me that taking a big risk and trusting yourself is always more rewarding than staying in your comfort zone and your idea of what should be done.  Better to ask: what could be done?  That is one of the greatest lessons a person can ever learn, and I must say I never truly realized that concept until Mike came along.  I will miss that influence from him so much, but his decision now to take such a huge leap in his own life only affirms that idea, makes me respect him even more, and makes me want to continue on in such a way with The Bynars.

Most of all I’ll miss having an excuse to hang out with him twice a week, playing music with him, and sharing crazy moments with him on tour (and we’ve had a lot).   But I know he will go on to do great things.  He is one of the brightest, most inspiring people I have ever met and I hope you’ll all come out to the show on 8/1 to see him off!

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New Music Video “Time vs. Money”

Our new music video “Time vs. Money” is here!

This video was directed by Shaun Clarke (who also directed our interactive video “How Does It Feel to Be in Love?” in 2011), and it features two extremely talented dancers, Kirsten Evans & Alex Lantz, with choreography by Viktor Plotnikov.  We could not be happier with how this video came out.  The amount of talent, time, effort, and love that went into creating this is truly amazing.  Thank you so much to everyone involved!

In the next few days, we’ll be doing a “Making of” series of posts on our website, with words from Shaun, Viktor, Kirsten and Matt on how this video and song came together, so keep an eye out.  We really hope you enjoy the video.  Please help us share it with everyone!  And be sure to download the song for free if you haven’t already.

Making of “Time vs. Money” Part 4 of 4, Matt Jatkola (Songwriter)

“Time vs. Money” is a song older than this band.  I think I first had the idea in 2007.  I categorized it in my head as an “aggressive rocker.”  When Ben and I started working on material for The Bynars in late 2007, having aggressive rock songs wasn’t our goal… actually quite the opposite, so I pushed the song aside but it was always lingering in the back of my mind.
Lyrically, the song was inspired by my life at the time.  I had just finished college, moved close to Boston with my girlfriend, the first time I’d ever lived away from home.  So much changed that year and although it was exciting, it certainly wasn’t easy.  We had the inevitable money problems young people have, and I had a chip on my shoulder about time and age.  I was spending time.  She was spending money.  (Hoo-whoa.)  The song is about that push and pull.  Time and money were pushing and pulling us, ruling our lives, but what was actually holding things together?  Time and money don’t hold things together… those are concepts created my man – words, constructs, unnatural things.  Those things aren’t real.  What was actually holding things together was our secret: love.
Fast forward to 2012.  In the middle of a writing frenzy for The Bynars’ second album X vs. X, I was writing daily and was challenged by my bandmates (and myself) to do things that were outside the box of what we would later dub “Bynars Classic” — a.k.a. the simple sugar-sweet pop tunes of our first EP’s and album.  “Time vs. Money” came to mind.  I’d never done a proper demo of the song before, so I sat down and worked out the arrangement that was rattling around in my head for the past few years.  This is the demo I shared with them:

We decided to work on the song as a contender for X vs. X.  In fact, this is the song that inspired the album title and the concept behind the album.  Replace “Time” and “Money” with any opposing concepts: “Love” and “Hate” / “Fun” and “Sad” / “Stay” and “Leave.”  Are they the same?  Are they different?  What do those concepts actually mean?  Are they just ideas or are they real?  That’s X vs. X.
Anyway, Ben wasn’t crazy about the demo arrangement, but Mike and I were feeling it at the time so Ben agreed to humor us.  It was Ben’s suggestion to change the rhythmic feel to what it is now – perhaps more of a New Order feel, with the bass at the heart of the song; simple, chorused out, but dark, and the guitar coloring here and there with simple leads.  It was in 6/8 time, but still miraculously dancable, which we thought was cool and something we didn’t hear much of.  It was now something we were all excited about and we added it to our list of songs to record for X vs. X.
Ironically, time and money were the reasons we didn’t end up finishing it for the album.  We still had a lot of work to do on the track if we wanted to put it on the album, so rather than rush it, we shelved it, put the album out without the song, and started playing it live.  It shaped itself even more over time in a live setting.  Ben left the band in early 2013, and we started playing it with Andy on tour.  By the end of 2013, we decided the song was sticking around and it was time to finish recording it.
The recording process for this track was long – the longest we’ve ever worked on any one song.  We had the skeleton (drums, bass, basic guitar and vocal ideas) from our album recording attempts and our live set.  We landed some free studio time at Converse Rubber Tracks Boston in February 2014 where we re-amped drums and recorded the guitars.  We recorded a bit with our friend Shane McMahon.  We also mixed and recorded a lot on our own, with lots of trial and error, exhausting as many possibilities as we could before settling.  This extra-meticulous yet experimental approach is something we’d always wanted to take with recording, but never had the time to do before.  We started warming up to this idea of a tripped-out mix, lots of delay and reverb, but we were very deliberate about it all.  The delays are all panned in perfect symmetry, the intervals of the delay timing all in perfect balance…  I imagine even some engineers/producers would think the attention we paid to detail was overkill, but it was something we enjoyed and it was something we felt suited the song.  After 4 months of doing this and only this (we literally weren’t playing our instruments most of this time, just mixing), we took a trip down to Brooklyn to do the final mix with Abe Seiferth, sent it off to be mastered, and it was done.  We released it as a single on April 29, 2014.
Somewhere during those months of getting lost in this track, we mentioned to Shaun Clarke that we’d like to do a video for this song.  We said: 1. We don’t want to be in it, and 2. We’d like to involve dancing.  With that, Shaun came up with the idea of working with ballet dancers, backlit black & white imagery, and really focusing on how movement relates to the song. We couldn’t be happier with how this video came out.
I’ve never explained the song to anyone.  What I wrote just now is the first time I’ve ever attempted to articulate what the song is about, but with this video I feel like everyone picked up on the concept on their own and each incorporated some of that into this project – the lighting, choreography, camera work, performances, and editing all fit the song so well.  The fact that this happened without me explaining it makes me feel good as a songwriter, and like we did our job as a band.

– Matt Jatkola
Watch “Time vs. Money” music video.

Making of “Time vs. Money” Part 3 of 4, Shaun Clarke (Director)

Shaun Clarke, director of “Time vs. Money”, is someone we’ve worked with a few times now – first when he directed an interactive video for our song “How Does It Feel to Be in Love?” in 2011, and later when he worked as cinematographer on our short film “Every Little Thing You Love” in 2012.  Everything we’ve ever seen from Shaun is beautiful – he has an amazing eye, an admirable work ethic, and is an all around good dude.  He’s written some fantastic insights into the making of our newest video here, so let’s get to it:

I am a big fan of The Bynars, and “Time vs. Money” ranks up there with one my favorite songs that they have produced. I first chatted with Matt and Mike about a second collaboration back in November of 2013. While we sorted through a number of different ideas/concepts, I kept returning to the use of dance in this project. “Time vs. Money” is a dance song, and given my past work in making dance film, I felt that it could turn in to a successful project if I found the right dance collaborator.

Enter Viktor Plotnikov. I had met Viktor while working on another film project that featured his equally talented wife, Larissa. Over a cup of coffee, I asked Viktor if he would be interested in experimenting with me: choreographing and shooting a traditional ballet dance to The Bynars’ modern pop/dance/rock song. While he was skeptical at first, he decided to accept the challenge.

It took many months for Viktor, the dancers and my schedules to align in order to start production. Viktor spent a few days working with and prepping the dancers in Providence. He would send me video clips of each of the dance sequences as they came along. I appreciated that there were elements of traditional ballet, but also some funk-ed up, non-traditional sections too.

We travelled down to Providence on Wednesday, May 28th. I had only a loose concept of what I wanted to do at that point, and knew that we were going to have to improvise once we got the camera and dancers in the same room. Kirsten Evan and Alex Lantz (both members of Festival Ballet Providence) are fantastic dancers! Even for someone who still feels somewhat ignorant about the intricacies of dance, it was immediately clear from the videos that Viktor sent me, and their warm-up routines that they were talented, and would bring high level of energy and beauty to the choreography. They were also troopers throughout the production, performing the routines over and over again throughout the day.

Daniel Jacobs (camera operator) and Jean-Paul (JP) DiSciscio (lighting operator) were all- stars during the production. In order to keep the images dynamic, I insisted that the camera never be placed on a tripod, which meant that Daniel (who also graciously loaned his c300 for the shoot) was running all over the place to keep up with the dancers. For most of the piece, we also took a similar approach with the lights: instead of using lighting stands, JP would hold the lights and move with the dancers. This allowed not only the camera, but also the lights to interact with the dancers and choreography. Norman McLaren’s “Pas De Deux,” a masterpiece of dance film, heavily influenced the stark, backlit lighting approach.

Editing took me a couple of months. I would make a cut, then send it around to the crew and some trusted peers for notes. Qinshu Zuo took an evening to do the color correction on this piece, making the images really pop of the screen.

All of this work results in a minimalist piece: one camera, one studio, two dancers, two lights, black and white, light and shadow. The lighting renders the dancers almost entirely faceless. Instead, we are left to focus on the dance moves. And all of the elements (dance, camera, lighting, editing, music) combine to create something unique. At least that is my hope…

But, whether or not the piece is successful is for the audience to decide. I am just grateful that I once again got to collaborate with such talented group of artists!

– Shaun Clarke
Watch “Time vs. Money” music video.

Making of “Time vs. Money” Part 2 of 4, Kirsten Evans (Dancer)

Next on our “Making of Time vs. Money” series is Kirsten Evans, one of the dancers in the video.  She and Alex Lantz both work with Festival Ballet Providence, where we shot the video. Words that come to mind: talent, professionalism, enthusiasm, focus, stamina… they danced a full six hour session shooting this video, and brought their A game the entire time.  Kirsten has a blog called Setting the Barre where she chronicles her life as a dancer.  She posted a few entries about her experience shooting the “Time vs. Money” video.  You can read them all here – check out the excerpt below:

“What time is it?”

“You know what, I have absolutely no idea.  We’ve been in this black hole for so many hours…is it still Wednesday?”

-A and I at 3:30 pm 3 Wednesdays ago, volleying exhausted sentiments at the end of a 6-hour dance day.  The studio that we spend our lives in had been completely blacked out for our video shoot.  Dark curtains covered the big windows, the fluorescent lights were extinguished- there would be nothing for the strangely live dust bunnies to cling to but the fierce lights that spotted us, most times from behind.  With the free Seven Stars lunch (possibly the highlight of an already exceptionally interesting day) still fresh in our gracious mouths, A and I pondered the allusive hour, realized what a long time we had been working for, and exchanged an unplanned nod of pride towards each other.  We had one segment left to shoot, and it was, without a conference, our favorite.

Stepping back into the center of the studio, we took our positions for the “spinny sequence”, between a backpack-sized camera and one blinding spotlight.  As we danced our last section, the two objects moved on human legs, slowly circling around us, mimicking our revolution.  Now this is a real black hole, A and I agreed with our eyes.  Just keep spinning, one more take, and we might be released from it’s spiraling suction.

“That’s a wrap!”, the director led our celebratory applause before embarking on his round of handshakes and high fives.  It was the second week of summer and already we’d filmed a music video- talk about starting off the new season with a bang.

– Kirsten Evans
Watch “Time vs. Money” music video.
Follow Kirsten’s blog, Setting the Barre.

Making of “Time vs. Money” Part 1 of 4, Viktor Plotnikov (Choreographer)

We want to share the insights of the talented people who helped create our latest music video, “Time vs. Money.”  First up is choreographer Viktor Plotnikov, originally from the Ukraine, an award-winning choreographer who spent years performing with Boston Ballet and creating innovative choreography for a plethora of ballet productions, he is currently Resident Choreographer at Festival Ballet Providence, where we shot the video.
“This is the first time I’ve worked on a music video.  Introduced to me by Shaun Clarke, I loved the idea itself, but was a bit skeptical about ballet being in it.  In the end I totally went along with it because Shaun was so excited and sure about ballet looking great with the song.  The process was different from any other process I’ve done before.  I started with the dancers on several small sections which we called A, B, C, etc. (which is not my usual style of work) and later some derivatives such as A1 and 2 and so on. I had in mind to have all these segments able to fit in any part of the music on the time line.  When we were rehearsing, I filmed what was done and sent it to Shaun so he had an idea of what it looked like and how to film it best.
The girl in the tutu for me represents money, sort of extravagantly dressed, caring about her hair all the time and being beautiful for the sole reason of glamour.
And the guy is simply dressed, I would even say sporty – fast and agile, moving through everyday life, seeing no need to show off – representing time.”
– Viktor Plotnikov
Watch “Time vs. Money” music video.

Upcoming Shows, Video, & Facts!

JUNE SHOWS
We have some shows coming up that we’re really excited about.  First, we’re playing a FREE SHOW this Thursday 6/12 @ the Converse Store on Newbury Street in Boston, which starts @ 6pm.  Then we head to Toronto on 6/20 for our performance @ Cameron House as part of NXNE festival, and on 6/28 we’ll be at the Nashua River Brewers Festival @ Riverfront Park in Fitchburg, MA.  Here it is again, in list view:
6/12 @ Converse Store | Boston, MA (6pm, FREE!)
6/20 @ Cameron House | Toronto, ON (11pm, NXNE Festival)
6/28 @ Riverfront Park | Fitchburg, MA (2:30pm, Nashua River Brewers Festival)

UPCOMING VIDEO
We starting shooting a music video for our latest single “Time vs. Money.”  The video is directed by Shaun Clarke, who also directed our “How Does It Feel to Be in Love?” interactive video a while back.  Some beautiful stuff has been shot so far.  This video will be released sometime this summer.  Here are some behind-the-scenes photos and stills:

DID YOU KNOW?
… we were recently on the front page of the Sentinel & Enterprise
… “Dancing on a Dream” has been added to Boston City Hall’s welcome music playlist?
… we are working on another new single that we hope to release this summer?

Now you know!

New Single “Time vs. Money”

Available exclusively at our Bandcamp for pay-what-you-want download.
Donations will fund the recording & release of our next single.
The single also includes b-side “Dancing on a Dream (2014 Mix)”

We worked very hard on this over the past few months and we hope you enjoy it!  Thank you Converse Rubber Tracks for hooking us up with studio time back in February to record this.  We’re currently working on more new music, planning some other exciting projects (!),
and gearing up for our next live show: May 9th @ Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, MA w/ Aloud, The Field Effect, and DJ Panda! Get your tickets here: http://tktwb.tw/1gT75aC

Thank you!

Matt, Mike, Andy

Recording!

We’ve been recording.  We’ve been interviewed (it’s a good one, check it out).  And we have some shows coming up in May/June.  Things are good.  How are you?

THANK YOU, 2013!

We just played our biggest show of the year to a sold out Bowery Ballroom in New York City with our pals The Front Bottoms.  What any amazing way to cap off a crazy 2013!
After starting the year off on an awkward note, saying goodbye to our friend and band mate Ben, we weren’t really sure what the future held.  But we decided to do what we knew we had to do: keep going! We added long-time friend Andy Szymcik to our line-up as a guitarist/vocalist, released our album “X vs. X” in September, received the best press we’ve ever received, and had the busiest fall on record in terms of tour dates.  So many of these 2013 tour dates were among our best shows ever, and we met some really amazing people along the way.
Thank you to everyone who made 2013 a special year!
We already have some exciting things planned for 2014, including releasing new music in the first half of the year… and playing lots more shows!  Until then…
Happy New Year & a 00111100 00110011 to y’all,
Matt, Mike, & Andy