Google and The Clash have more in common than you might expect. They both started in a garage, and had rockstar ambitions that launched them into the stratosphere. When Google Play got in touch with 12FPS in 2011, we were surprised that the Fortune 500 company had managed to preserve the spirit of a DIY punk venue. The digital distribution platform tapped us to produce a series of one-off music videos with top artists. They wanted to capture the sort of deep cuts that diehard fans seek out, in intimate settings that would foster candid experimentation.
Our initial work with Google Play was at Studio G, which produces all of the company’s advertisements. We shrunk the sprawling space into a little recording studio for videos with Kurt Vile, Michael Franti and other artists. Vile waived his car service to drive himself to the studio, and recorded a stripped-down cover of “The Guns of Brixton” by The Clash. Franti showed up at Studio G barefoot, and did a reggae-inflected version of “The Little Drummer Boy” for a series of Christmas recordings.
“When they started playing, it was crunch time,” recalls Adam, our CEO and lead producer. “We did each video in a single take, so once the cameras started rolling we used hand signals to direct cameras and follow the action as it unfolded. It was totally unpredictable.” In post-production, we carefully preserved the raw quality of the performances—and added some fun motion graphics that tied the independent spirit of the project to Google Play’s brand. Later on in the video series, Google rented a full-fledged recording studio and we built a production studio within it, entering artists’ comfort zones to film radical, musical confessionals. Over the course of the project, we worked with Sonny & The Sunsets, Surfer Blood, Nick Lowe, Trombone Shorty and other amazing artists.