August 18, 2022

On the Couch Music

Sprawled on a couch and wrapped in fuzzy blankets is where we feel most comfortable – where our worries and inhibitions flee our body in a psychological regression to our utmost coziest of beginnings. The couch is a place for reflection, self-indulgence, and, most certainly, melodious jam sessions.

No one understands this concept more than Xavier McAllister, senior, whose Capstone project involves creating a series of high-quality videos showcasing local musicians, entitled “On the Couch Music.” Truly, it is just what it sounds like: music performed on a couch.

“’On the Couch Music’ is music for everyday,” reads the group’s mission statement. “We aim to showcase the musical talent of bands, as well as the everyday living room musician in a series of live, one-take performances. Whether you are playing to thousands of people or just singing to your dog, there will always be a place for you on the couch. Just think; a couch could be the coolest venue if given the proper stage.”

McAllister feels that comfort and tenderness creates quality.

“Even if you grew up just banging on pots and pans like we all did, playing at home is the most comfortable thing,” said McAllister. “The whole concept fits with ‘hey, if you like to play at home, why not play in front of a camera and have everyone see it.’ It doesn’t have to be Queen on an arena stage to sound good.”

Along with the incredibly-high production value, recreating the intimacy of playing at home is what separates “On the Couch Music” from other similar music video productions, such as NPR’s “Tiny Desk Performances” or the local “Mug & Brush Sessions.”

“I sit at home and play music on my couch all the time,” said McAllister. “We can take a couch anywhere we want, taking the comfort of your home wherever you want to record.”

Understanding this intimacy creates an organic atmosphere for musicians so they can do what they do best – create a beautiful moment.

“When you are actually doing the recording, the only people in there are you and the camera crew; that intimacy lets the performers let go a little more,” said Jay Olson, senior, who does photography for the series.

“The type of music that I enjoy the most is passionate, intimate, and personal,” said Dean Lawson, senior, who is in charge of the promotional work and booking for the video series. “If those three things are in a song, I enjoy it. We are trying to give that to the viewer – to have that experience. It is really important.”

Shooting the video in one take is important to the group, for it is a part of their grand conceptualization – to immortalize a moment that can never be reproduced.

“The best performances are the ones that have those little mistakes,” said McAllister. “It’s more of a jam session for them. Whatever the performer wants to do is fine with us.”

Allowing the musicians that freedom, coupled with the coziness of a Lazy Boy and thousands of dollars worth of Capital’s equipment, the group are able to capture the music in its rawest form.

“On the Couch Music” is in its infancy. Their first video premiered in the beginning of February, which featured Capital students Dylan Woodring and Zach Conaway; it was soon followed up by Capital student Vince Coleman, who played an instrumental piece on the acoustic guitar. Most recently, they have showcased the Capital band, and local favorite, “Singularity,” whose affectionate and down tempo sound has accumulated more than 600 views on their website.

However, the videographers’ collective vision is not limited to Capital students, as they have already begun reaching out to local talents such as “Nick D and the Believers” and “Kid Runner,” among others.

The group agrees that they have big plans for after graduation, but, because the genesis of the video series is intertwined with McAllister’s senior Capstone project, producing the videos is a win-win for everyone.

“It’s giving the band ownership of something. It is giving them a gift, because we are not charging,” said McAllister. “These are people also helping me out with my project, so it is a mutually-beneficial relationship. The quick turnaround is just a bonus. You come in one day, [and, in] that same week, you have a finished product that you can show everyone.”

Supporting local music can be easy. With the click of a button, you can be serenated by local talent at while simultaneously supporting the work of the Capital community. From their couch to yours, #getcomfortable.

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