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The Jacaranda Basement Tapes: Pushing The Boundaries of Cost, Quality & Technology

[9 Nov 2020]

Ben Roberts from the content team goes behind the scenes of Jacaranda Records’ pilot performance series …

In 2019 Jacaranda Records began work on The Jacaranda Basement Tapes, an ongoing series of live sessions featuring Liverpool’s latest generation of emerging artists. The series is produced from the basement of the iconic Jacaranda Club, birthplace of The Beatles, connecting upcoming artists with the building’s history and legacy as the legendary venue’s story enters its 7th decade.

The motivations for commissioning the series are almost too numerous to list. The Basement Tapes has enabled us to showcase raw talent, explore cost-effective routes to high-end production values, trial innovative technologies and shooting techniques, and provide artists with crucial on-camera experience. It gives us cracking content to support acts, provides a top-quality public demonstration of the Label’s capabilities, and – because we are driven by a commitment to explore every possible revenue stream for our people – it has created a new format to sell to broadcasters online or on mobile.

Most of all, though, this has been an exercise in exploring the art of the possible …

In both the visual and audio recording, the latest technology is used to capture the sound and atmosphere of the iconic performance space. Lighting is carefully and subtly tailored to enhance the visuals without over-producing or saturating the imagery, allowing the raw talent to show. This is also applied with the muted lack of grade on the footage, allowing the viewer to see the artist, and the performance space, with a certain degree of honesty and authenticity. 

Furthermore, by keeping these elements consistent throughout the sessions, we have been able to create a recognisable identity for the sessions, something any Liverpool gig-goer can connect with. 

The camera work in each session is unique and directed as a response to the music. This was very important to us, as we believe there is not a one size fits all or formula to filming music-based content.  It also allows us to keep creative, imaginative and experimental throughout the sessions.  

Examples of this are the soft shallow focus close-ups of guitars on ‘Shards’ track ‘My Birthday’ to the long dolly shots applied to ‘Ali Horn’s’ track ‘Modern Voodoo’. 

With alt-grunge psychedelic punk band SPILT, an extremely energetic act known for their DIY approach, we took the bold step of removing editorial decisions from the editing process to showcase and emphasize the artists’ raw talent. In order to do this we decided that the edit would be the raw live line-cut as a split screen, showing all of the four camera set up footage with no cuts. This allows the viewer to create their own edit each viewing, as they switch their focus between each camera. This seemed very appropriate to the ethos of SPILT unprocessed attitude, and it works.

The Basement Tapes has allowed Jacaranda Records to showcase the capabilities of not just a record label curating music, but its ability to produce high end audio visual content in a new and exciting format, with the signature of the Label connecting to the history and legacy of the brand. 

With discussions underway with media partners, The Jacaranda Basement Tapes will continue in 2020, featuring more up and coming local artists and a handful of legends too.

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