GRAMMY.com Exclusive First Look: Juniper Lane
In October Washington, D.C., indie rock collective Juniper Lane released their latest album, Standing On The White Line, to Amazon, iTunes and other digital outlets. GRAMMY.com has your exclusive first look at the video for the album's final track, the melancholy ballad "Let Me Sleep." The video was hand-drawn by artist Ryan Downing, who discussed the creative process for this project in the following interview.
How did you come to collaborate with Juniper Lane?
I met Juniper Lane through Ted Comerford, the producer [of] "Let Me Sleep." When he played me the song for the first time, it reminded me of those surreal moments of drifting off to sleep and not being able to distinguish what's real and what is only a dream. I turned off all the lights, put on some headphones and just let my imagination run wild.
Can you outline your creative process for illustrating the video?
I wanted the video to have a unique, dream-like quality and I wanted to push my own boundaries as well, so I decided to do something I had never done before and draw every single frame of the video by hand. I knew it would be easier and faster to use a modern animation program, but taking the time to do everything by hand creates a more organic, unique piece of art, and that is very important to me. I drew around 7,000 images total, most of which appear for no more than one-twentieth of a second, and then edited them together in a rapid sequence to make them appear to "move."
How did the song's lyrics inform the visuals?
It was important to [vocalist] Vivion [Smith] and I [that] the imagery be a mix of both what she felt when writing the lyrics and what the listener feels upon hearing them. The lyrics are a journey through so many different emotions and themes; every line of the song feels like it creates a new branch of the story.
How long did the project take, from conception to finish?
It took three months to draw all the artwork and another month to edit the video together. It was frustrating at times to spend hours and hours drawing to only get a second or two of animation, but after a while the story began to carve itself out and I felt like I was watching it all unfold for the very first time.
With a sound described as "radio-ready rock" by The Washington Post, Juniper Lane were founded in 1999 by Chris Bonavia (guitar) and Vivion Smith (vocals, keyboards), who began collaborating after graduating from the University of Virginia. The band's first album, Counting, was released that year, followed by 2001's Tightrope and 2003's Sirens From A Mile Back. The group went on hiatus after Smith suffered a near-fatal climbing accident. Following her rehabilitation, the band released their fourth album, Wake From Yourself, in 2007. In 2008 Juniper Lane opened for GRAMMY winners Coldplay concert at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The band's current lineup features John Athayde (guitar/keyboards), Bonavia, Brian Frederick (bass), Eddie Pasa (drummer), and Smith.
Standing On The White Line was produced by Ted Comerford (Army Of Me, Zox). GRAMMY-winning engineer Michael Brauer (Coldplay, John Mayer, Paul McCartney) and engineers Paul David Hager (Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Goo Goo Dolls) and Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Suzanne Vega, Wilco) mixed the album. Juniper Lane are scheduled to play a concert at the Iota Club & Cafe in Arlington, Va., on Oct. 12.