LINEUP DIGITAL Pod Ep. 4
In the fourth episode of our podcast, we would like to introduce Michael Garcia. Born and raised in Miami Florida, Garcia is now a successful music video director/writer, and has worked with Kodak Black, Polo G, Dillon Francis, A Boogie, and shot the Blood Valentine Video for MGK & Megan Fox.
Q: With everything that’s happening, what good and what bad has come out of this?
Although it took yet another innocent black man to die for things to get to this point, it's great to see multicultural races come together for a similar cause. It’s an important task addressing the issue of systematic racism, sometimes you gotta take everything down to rebuild a better world. Feels like real things are starting to happen, and people are starting to really listen and look at the problem and affect personal change.
Q: What was your opinion on Columbia’s Records removal of the urban genre from their catalog? Tyler the Creator also spoke out against the term “urban” as well.
When you look at rock there’s classic, soft, heavy metal, hard, grunge, pop, punk, country. There’s so much classification of white music, and it should be the same when it comes to hip-pop as well. There’s R&B, reggae, trap, bass, and it’s important to differentiate the genres so that we could appreciate and understand an artists’ music better. I think it’s a step in the right direction, giving black music the respect that it deserves in all genres.
Q: How did you start out as a music director?
When you tap into this industry, at first you’re just trying to get your name out, show others why you’re different. In 2017, my friend called me up and asked if I’d like to do a music video for Kodak Black’s Tunnel Vision. Because Kodak’s sort of mumbling, in my head I interpreted the song as “oh it’s about racism” so I wrote this concept of Jim Crow in 2017, a guy with a “Make America Great Again” hat in the hunting field looking for a black man to kill but the black man takes him down instead. Kodak is rapping in front of burning crosses with members of the KKK hanging from them. This has nothing to do with the song at all, but the record label was pretty happy about it and asked me if I could shoot the video two days from then.
My biggest lesson from this video is that the more you think out of the box, the better it’s going to stick with the audience. I wanted to make a statement with an artist that rarely makes any statements because what better way to grab the audiences’ attention than giving them the unexpected.
Q: How much is your music video the artists vs. label vs. your own vision?
To be honest, every video is different, I did a video for Bhad Babie and Kodak’s ‘Bestie’, where I came up with the idea of a serial killer best friend, that was all 100% my creativity. There are also jobs where they determine almost 100% of the content and I sort of just tweak it. I’d say more of my success comes from me being let off on a leash and just go along with my creativeness. I got a pretty weird way of thinking, and my approach to music videos can be very different.
Q: What is your background previous to Kodak’s music video and how much does it play into the music videos that you do today?
There’s a huge impact, you can’t be a filmmaker without having life experience. I grew up in the MTV era, music videos would have designated shows where I’d wake up every Saturday morning and watch it. I was a music video addict, and on top of that I was rapping myself and meeting celebrities such as Pitbull and N.O.R.E. and got a hint and inside look into how these artists approach music. One thing I realized is that ultra-creative ideas usually work, to present something entirely different to the audience is crucial.
Q: How do you compare yourself to fellow music video directors?
I don’t really look at other music creators as competitors, I look at it as we’re all artists in the same creative space and I wish them all the best of luck. If you want to be an artist, don’t worry about what the next guy is doing, don’t compare yourself to others, and always remember the reason why you started. For me, having my daughter’s friends comment on my video is way more significant than having 2 million followers. Being able to spark a conversation about my own music video with people, explain the reasons behind my creativity and getting paid for it is very badass.
Q: How do you balance creativeness and marketing strategies while making a music video?
Take Bhad Babie and Kodak’s “Bestie” for example. I knew we had product sponsorship, so we had to figure out how to incorporate it creatively. Marketing is always in the back of my mind, so I overdeliver with extra marketing assets. For example, I made movie posters for the music video for the artists to promote on social. I also always think to myself, what would the audience want? How can I make this video go viral? What doesn’t work for this artist? When I was making MGK’s Blood Valentine the original script was for MGK to wake up next to Megan Fox’s dead body. However, with the Me Too/women’s rights movement, it’s not a good look on MGK. So my second draft was to have Megan Fox wake up next to MGK’s dead body, then I got a call from MGK saying that he wants his role to be more playful so we worked on that as well. You always gotta think about what fits for these people, who they’re appealing to, and how you talk to the audience without insulting them but still make them feel rebellious.
Q: What advice do you have for upcoming music video directors and writers?
Get used to the word “No”, get used to rejection because it’s a very hard business. You’re gonna have to fight for what you believe in and really get your point across when needed. Music changes by the second, it’s not just about money and girls, you gotta expand on your knowledge and passion for music because staying on the trend is the only way to success in this industry. I go to parties not to get drunk, instead, I see how people interact, how people dress, what music makes people dance, and how I could incorporate all that into my videos. One of the most important things is to be as versatile as possible, don’t lock yourself into one single genre because music changes by the second.
That concludes our fourth podcast episode, hope you enjoyed it. We hope you and your family are doing well during this difficult time. We’d love to hear your feedback, feel free to shoot us an email or DM!
Social Media (Michael Garcia)