BRTHR – there’s a couple of vowels missing isn’t there? How do we pronounce it and how did the name come about?
BRTHR: It is pronounced “Brother”. We came up with it because we have a brotherly relationship, although we aren’t blood related. The missing vowels symbolize that.
Back story please on where you grew up, what you were obsessed with as kids and what led you to the college where you met. How old are you now please?
Alex: I was born in Tokyo, and raised in a chill city 30-40 mins away called Yokohama. As a kid, I loved baseball, video games, and was seriously obsessed with The Matrix. I remember becoming very into films after that one came out, and I decided to give filmmaking a go after high school. I chose the School of Visual Arts since it was in Manhattan, and I always wanted to study there. I am currently 20.
Kyle: I grew up in the suburbs on Long Island, New York. My hometown, Wading River, is a hybrid of rural land and suburbia. When I was younger, I loved researching new things and seemed to have a different hobby or random obsession every other week. At different times throughout my adolescence I was really into tarantulas, the New York Jets, cooking, rollerblading, making weird youtube videos, etc. After high school, I went to Hofstra University on a cross country and track scholarship, but decided to transfer to a school with a more rigorous film program. I ended up at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan where I met Alex. I am 21.
Was it a particular project that drew you to work together at college?
Alex: It’s funny because I didn’t really know Kyle well, but I knew he was a good actor from the acting classes we had to take. I also knew him from a really stylistic mini-documentary he did on his friend that I saw in production class. I had a little mocumentary pilot I was working on for my final freshmen project, and I asked him to act in it. We became really close friends and started working on other projects together. That’s when I realized we had similar tastes in music, style, and ideas. I was working alone for a while on projects outside of school after “Tokyo Slo-Mode” got me some jobs, and when the Bei Maejor gig came along, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to work on something bigger together. That’s when we really started thinking of BRTHR.
Kyle: Alex and I ended up being in most of the same classes together in our first year at SVA. Out of all the other students, I admired Alex’s work the most. After we screened our first projects of the semester, I could tell he was extremely talented. It was only until the end of my first year at school though, that I really got to know him. Alex ended up casting me for a short film he was making, and during the entire process, we developed a strong friendship, which ended up culminating into a working partnership with BRTHR.
Your reel is pretty prolific if you’ve just been out of college for a year. Do you ever see the light of day or is this a constant around the clock production line? Do you have a producer or do you guys do everything? Would you ever want to sign to a larger production company or are you enjoying the liberty of independence?
BRTHR: We were in college for two years, and dropped out in the fall of 2012 to invest everything in BRTHR. There was so much risk in that, so we both made sure we were never just chilling or not doing anything. We spend pretty much all of our time on projects, and that definitely let us build a portfolio quickly. As for working hours, I can say we have extremely random working hours. Usually, we start working late at night and end up sleeping around 4 am (this probably needs to change). At the moment, we have talked to a few producers, but we haven’t taken on anything with them yet. We like to work on all aspects of production from editing to filming to coloring/vfx, etc. Signing to a larger production company sounds quite ideal to us since we respect a lot of the work coming out from some of these companies right now. We would love to collaborate/add to that if given the right opportunity.
Do you work out of a studio where you both rock up at 9am?
BRTHR: More like we sleep at 9 am…Right now, we actually work from Kyle’s house in Long Island. It’s perfect for brainstorming and editing since the area is so quiet. It’s always funny to see Kyle’s family eating breakfast in the morning when we’re still up editing away. We are total night prowlers.
Will you continue the roll of music videos or is there a greater plan to work in short films or commercials?
Alex: I really enjoy music videos, and I like making them even better. It would be great to work on commercials and short films in the future since we do have ideas for them, but we want to elevate our music videos for 2013 first. It’s a big and meaningful year for us and we’re going to be trying new things!
Kyle: Going from random school projects to working on paid music videos has been really surreal for me. I am so grateful for the opportunities that we’ve already had, and I cannot wait for more to present themselves. I love making music videos because they give us freedom to get really creative, and it’s just an incredibly exhilarating process. The feeling of putting your heart and soul into an edit to seeing it through to its completion, is extremely rewarding and special. For BRTHR, I want to put all of myself into our projects this year in terms of creativity and to also cultivate our skills and continue to push ourselves to get better at making videos.
How does your partnership work with the creative process? Do you both work on ideas and narratives together and who does what on the technical side? Are there any differences of opinion? Do you sketch out narratives or write scripts? Love the typographical elements too.
BRTHR: We always work on everything together, from thinking of ideas, to editing, to filming, everything. We both edit parts of whatever we’re doing and film different parts on shoots. It’s a crazy collaborative process between us, and we always seem to be on the same page. It’s also great because I think we manage to get the best out of both of us – especially when writing a treatment, and in post production.
Are you generally given creative freedom or do you work developing ideas with the bands?
Alex: It really depends on the project. For Ta-ku and Bahwee, we had complete freedom since we practically did them for free. We love their music, and I had been talking to Bahwee and Ta-ku for a while about making videos and collaborating with their cool independent label, HW&W. Nina Sky and Bei Maejor also gave us tremendous amounts of freedom, which is always great. However, we remain extremely open to the artist’s ideas too. After all, it’s a video which represents them.
Do you work with an editor and dp or is that all part of your gig? What camera and kit do you prefer?
BRTHR: We don’t work with DPs or editors at the moment. I don’t think we will ever hire an editor either since we really like having complete control over that area. Also, we always have fun editing, and a lot of our ideas spawn from messing around in post.
Right now, most of our videos have been made with the Sony FS700, which is quite a good budget camera, but we’re going to give the Red Epic a try this year and see how that goes. We may also shoot something on film if the chance comes along (we love the film look so much).
Is it your intention to work and film both out of America and Japan? Two completely different cultures, do you feel torn between them or is it a comfortable fit to be part of Eastern and Western cultures? And how does this impact on your work?
Alex: I am part Japanese and part American, and although I grew up in Japan, I went to an English speaking international school. So going back and forth between both cultures feels comfortable, and I really enjoy it. I love filming in my hometown because I know it so well, and I have a house there so it’s easy to work out of as long as I manage to get a flight back from New York. I would love to continue filming in Tokyo since it’s such a beautiful city, and I think it impacts our work positively because it allows us to capture aesthetics that Tokyo only has. “Tokyo Slo-mode,” and Bahwee’s video wouldn’t have worked if it weren’t for my background, so I am extremely grateful for being able to grow up in Japan.
Kyle: This past summer I had the opportunity to travel to Japan, to visit Alex and see where he grew up. It was such an incredible and eye opening experience. Going to Tokyo ended up being one of the best experiences of my life, as it offered me such a different and meaningful perspective on life. Compared to the United States, Japan is truly another planet. Being from New York and the Western world, the visuals that Japan offers are especially awe-inspiring and unique. I think as artists, we’re really lucky to have the opportunity to work in both places with such ease, as Alex is so familiar with the intricacies of Tokyo, the culture of Japan, and speaks Japanese. I believe our idea for BRTHR, combines our similar visions, but also works well because of the uniqueness of our backgrounds.
What are you currently working on?
BRTHR: We finished two videos in December that are unreleased. A video for Cris Cab, who is a talented 19 year old kid out of Miami known for working with Pharell, and a BRTHR version music video for Ed Sheeran’s song “A-team.” Unfortunately the label hasn’t told us when the “A-Team” video will be released so we’re just waiting quietly right now. The Cris Cab video should be out later this month.
We are also doing something really interesting with Emily Kai Bock, and it’s kind of a passion project on both ends. She came up with the idea of a “remix” video, kind of how musicians remix songs. It will essentially be a re-edit of her “She is the Wave” video, and we were given freedom to do whatever. The central theme we both agreed to is “Chaos”. It’s an amazing opportunity because we both love her work, and have been looking up to her for a while.
Later this month we are going to join forces with the upcoming female rapper, Angel Haze again to create some really edgy, dark stuff (which we love doing). We’re in the talks for possibly doing a video for Phosphorescent soon, which will be amazing since his music is beautiful.
Here’s an ad BRTHR shot