Some of the best ideas are the ones that you could have and should have come up with yourself. The plan to take the best bands playing your city and get them to make amazing, one-off performances has, admittedly, been played with before, to some astounding success – La Blogtheque managed to make Paris even more impressive than it already is, whilst Black Cab Sessions has taken the medium and stuffed in the back of taxi – but nobody has done the same for Manchester. Or hadn’t until Toby and Sam came along with Scenewipe at the tail end of last year and started getting the best local talent and the most important touring bands to play a tune for them in a variety of weird and wonderful locations. They’ve had Brown Brogues playing in a toilet, Yoni Wolf covering The Smiths at the Eighth Day Café, Jo Rose strumming guitar in a field as well as getting Radio 1 troublers Bombay Bicycle Club and Everything Everything to make a video for the site.
However, it seems that being the most impressive video site in the city isn’t enough for the duo, as they’ve recently expanded their site into including a full-on blog. To celebrate, we kind of interviewed each other about each other’s sites, what what do in our days off, and their plans for spending all the money in the world on some headgear and an atmospheric Canadian band:
For those who’ve never visited your site, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do:
We are Toby & Sam, and we run an online music channel called Manchester Scenewipe. We go to interesting locations around the fine city of Manchester and film un-plugged sessions with local bands as well as larger touring acts from all over the world.
And here’s an obvious one: Why did you start? Were you influenced by other websites?
We were shown an amazing Parisian blog called la blogotechque, run by filmmaker Vincent Moon. He was getting these amazing spontaneous acoustic performances out of bands travelling through Paris. We loved everything about the site; the camera work was rough and ready but with good audio, and the locations he took the bands were so interesting. We just thought “this would work perfectly in Manchester”, and to be fair, it has.
What do you do outside of Scenewipe?
When we’re not signing on, we run a small independant video production and design company called Plastic Zoo. We make music videos, promo films and the occasional animation. We’ll draw or film pretty much anything based around music and culture. The days are long but it’s well fun.
You’ve done some pretty special videos, but which one are you most proud of and why?
Why thank you! I think the ones we are most proud of are the films where the artists have really got into the concept and gone the extra mile to make it interesting. Filming Lissie underneath the T-Rex Skeleton at Manchester Museum is a session that will always stick in our minds, but more recently filming Dog is Dead in a working barber shop was a blast, and I guess we are really pleased with the sessions we shot over in Seattle and Portland, USA this autumn, bands over there were really responsive to what we were doing.
Any missed opportunities? Anything you regret?
Ahh, regret…(sighs whistfully)…Just one springs to mind; We had a session with Jeffrey Lewis lined up last year, we had been looking forward to it for so long. We got to the venue before sound check and were asked to wait. The sound check ended up taking 3 hours because Jeffrey and his brother/bassist Jack were having this ridiculous fight over a delay pedal. The fight escalated into a brawl on stage, there was biting and hair pulling and everything. it was unbelievable. Once they finished we were told we would have to do it after the show, and even this offer didn’t seem certain. We were knackered and pissed off and decided not to go back. in hindsight we really wish we’d done it. We don’t flake often, but we’re gonna have to live with that one.
What’s yr process for making a video and picking a band to be in it?
The videos can come together in loads of different ways. With the touring bands, we usually scour the Manchester gig listings and when we see something we like we go direct to their press. I suppose we are easy content for them so they tend to help us out a lot. With local stuff, thankfully we get a lot of bands getting in touch with the site, there are so many bands in Manchester emerging all the time that without word of mouth and people letting us know what they want to see on the site (and reading the Pigeon Post), we’d never keep up. When it comes to filming, its a really quick process, we meet the band, have a chat, head to the location and after a quick sound check, we go for a one take wonder. Its always a bit of an anti climax after weeks of planning and waiting for it to be over in 5 minutes, but its so spontaneous and fun. We then hand animate our titles, cut the video and upload it to the site. Simple!
Right, so here’s a scenario: you’ve got an unlimited budget and every band in the world wants to play for you in any scenario you choose. Describe the video you would make.
I think the ultimate performance for us would be Arcade Fire, probably flying over Manchester in a low flying hot air balloon with the Scenewipe logo on it! We would have a crane camera to capture the action, oh and gold directors caps.
Got any exciting videos coming up? What have you got planned for 2011?
We’ve got some wicked vids coming up; Tweak Bird, Tokyo Police Club and The Phantom Band are waiting in the wings as well as quality local bands Onions and Monster Island. 2011 is looking like an exciting time; we’re launching our monthly live music night at Fuel Cafe in Withington on Friday January 7th. We’re also going to be doing some big full band sessions with all the bands that love the site but can’t do un-plugged. We’re looking at you Kong! Aside from that, we are going to continue filming our sessions, only we are going to be going deeper into Manchester’s hidden locations, the places that you don’t see everyday! So if the world ends in 2012, at least we can go out with a bang!