House of Marley’s The Get Together: Kingston Sound System

Growing up in England during the 1990s, filmmaker Wonford St. James spent many nights dancing in the field to the rhythms of a backyard-styled “free party.” A music lover, James studied these English parties back to its roots and instantly fell in love with the Jamaican sound system culture that eventually migrated to the UK in the ’60s. “Anyone who has ever danced in front of large banks of speakers to music being played by a DJ can thank Jamaican sound systems for that experience.” The impact this genre of music had on the world was felt far and wide, from having a hand in the birth of American hip-hop to inspiring audio purveyors to deliver louder, more portable speakers. So when the New York-based creative was asked to produce a video coinciding with the launch of House of Marley’s new Get Together Bluetooth speaker, James immediately decided to visit Kingston. In his short piece, Albert “iLawi” Johnson – regarded as the original selector – becomes our host through this sound system experience, which is a journey to a simpler, more peaceful time. Be sure to also scroll down to read our full interview with the talented Wonford St. James.

For more on House of Marley’s Get Together Bluetooth speaker as well as how you could win your very own, please visit here.

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Wonford St. James and I am a filmmaker living in New York by way of London and Los Angeles.

How did you get into filmmaking?

Through a love of photography, music, cameras, art and life.

What was the goal behind your video?

We went to Jamaica to promote a dance and film it. I wanted to celebrate original Jamaican soundsystem culture and share a glimpse into the source of DJ culture. Jamaican music has had a massive, disproportionate, and well documented impact on global popular culture but the role of the soundsystem in the rise of reggae is not as well told. Anyone who has ever danced in front of large banks of speakers to music being played by a DJ can thank Jamaican soundystems for that experience. I want to shine a little light on the original dancehall scene and the energy, style and attitude that goes along with it.

What was your inspiration?

Growing up in England in the ’90s I spent a lot of time dancing all night in fields at “free parties,” so I’ve had traces of sound systems in my blood from an early age. As British house music evolved through that decade, I got heavily into the Jungle scene that blew up coming out of the early rave days. Jungle added the core ingredients of Jamaican dancehall into rave culture to create a uniquely British sound and subculture. You had rolling basslines and chopped out breaks bouncing along with MCs toasting over the music. Incredible and inspiring times. Going to Jamaica to make this little film was like a trip to Mecca.

How does House of Marley differ from other brands?

House of Marley has the opportunity to authentically celebrate a man and an island place with one of the world’s greatest musical heritage. Reggae imagery and attitudes have been brandalized far too often through diluted and distorted expressions of the culture. I hope that House of Marley are able to shine a new light on the subject that is creative and constructive.

What are you most excited about with your relationship with House of Marley?

It’s an exciting young brand with a great team behind it. I would love to take this project to the next level and work with the House of Marley team on a longer format film that explores the evolution and journey of sound system culture, from its roots in Jamaica across the world by way of hip-hop, house and heavy bass.

When you were approached about the project, what was the direction given and then how did you approach your execution/interpretation?

We were asked to create a film that spoke to the idea of an idea being shared; how ‘one’ becomes ‘many.’ This brief alongside a portable speaker made of wood with the Marley name on it immediately pointed me in the direction of Jamaica.

How influential has music been in your creative evolution?

Music has been the central part of my life and creative journey. The reason I live in New York is hip-hop.

What was it like traveling abroad? What were some of your favorite moments and what was some adversity you faced?

We were blessed to work with original selector and music man Albert ‘iLawi’ Johnson on this project who graciously welcomed us into his home to keep the dance at his yard. With iLawi as our guide we cut a blessed path through Kingston, uptown and down. My favorite moment was when the needle hit the first record at the dance. The soundsystem crackled and boomed into life and the place started bouncing. Alongside iLawi, we were blessed with a local producer Michelle Serieux who ensured that the only adversity we faced was whether we were going to run out of Red Stripe before the Guinness arrived.

What type of camera did you use for the film?

We shot the film on an old Canon camera using 8mm color film. These cameras are small, compact, and create a texture and warmth that fits perfectly with the story we were there to capture. The records crackle as the film rolls.

How receptive were the locals to being captured on film?

Jamaicans are lively, proud and beautiful people who are happy to get up in your face, so we had no shortage of potential superstars to liven up the dance.

Author: Robert Marshall

*Originally posted on HYPEBEAST

House of Marley’s The Get Together: NYC Lineup

 

As a tribute to its newly released wireless speaker as well as the history of portable audio, House of Marley enlisted four filmmakers to create a video piece that could speak to the very essence of this speaker and its ability to bring people together. For this installment, New York-based director Sam Fleischner explores the impact of music on the life’s of those struggling to exist in the chaotic world of a concrete jungle. Not only does music provide a sense of serenity, but as it is depicted above, it allows people to forget their differences and join hands in celebrating the simpler joys of life. Check out Fleischner’s short film above and be sure to read through our full interview with the director below.

For more on House of Marley’s Get Together Bluetooth speaker as well as how you could win your very own please visit here.

 

Can you introduce yourself?

Sam Fleischner, film director.

How did you get into filmmaking?

Westerns, believe it or not.

What was the goal behind your video? What was your inspiration?

Try to do something fun with the potential of a portable speaker. Dancing is good for health.

How does House of Marley differ from other brands?

Well in terms of making commercials, they were a great combination of supportive and hands off. They were also generous with their product and let me give each of the dancers one of the speakers.

When you were approached about the project, what was the direction given and then how did you approach your execution/interpretation?

This was a lot of fun for me because I got to come to write the concept myself. Usually with these kinds of jobs, the creative comes to you already developed to some extent so it was fun to start with the seed. I had three very different ideas that we were all excited about but we settled in the “line”. This process really picked up steam when I got Cynsei Sohbet on board. We worked out the choreography and flow together. She is a great leader, or in this case, “Rasta-fairy”.

How influential has music been in your creative evolution?

Music is one of my pillars. For this project I worked with my friend Matt Werth at RVNG. He hooked me up with the hypnotic Secret Circuit track that drives the piece.

When you’re not working on big brand campaigns, what sort of passion projects do you like to work on?

I spend a lot of time in my garden, and working on non-commercial feature films like Stand Clear of the Closing Doors.

How did you cast the subjects for this video? Each individual is so interesting because they don’t, at face value, look like they would be dancers yet they all have a strong motion and rhythm. Was that the intention?

Yea, that was part of the concept. Everyone’s got a groove in them but it can be hard to find sometimes.

Where was the filming done? It looks like an abandoned, really sterile bank or something.

It was filmed at Anthology Film Archives, which is sort of like a temple for experimental cinema, but originally the building was supposed to be a court house. They show some of the best film programs in the world there. I worked there as a projectionist when I first moved to NYC, so it was a really fun place to shoot.

 Author: Robert Marshall

*Originally posted on HYPEBEAST 

 

House of Marley’s The Get Together: Kingston Freestyle

When House of Marley recruited PSYOP to reinterpret Bob Marley’s ideals alongside the elegant Get Together Bluetooth Speaker, the character animator-turned-filmmaker looked to his love for dance hall videos and Japanese anime for inspiration. “For The Get Together I wanted to characterize the affect of music and how a good vibe can multiply from person to suddenly a whole block party.” Scored to Major Lazer’s “Watch Out For This (Bumaye),” Ding handed out the bamboo-constructed speaker and captured the infectious free spirit of Jamaica take hold of those around him. After checking out the short film above be sure to read through our full interview with the director below.

For more on House of Marley’s Get Together Bluetooth speaker as well as how you could win your very own please visit here.

 

Can you introduce yourself?

Hello, my name is Gerald Ding I am a Director at Psyop in New York and live in the Lower East Side with my wife and our French Bulldog, his name is Bob.

How did you get into filmmaking?

I started as a character animator and was so focussed on owning a series of shots as my part for a project. To me that was like my first chance at being a storyteller, but I wanted to tell the whole story in my own way and not just a piece of it.

What was the goal behind your video? What was your inspiration?

A lot of times in advertising when there’s a product, brands usually characterize what they’re selling and try to give it a personality. For The Get Together I wanted to characterize the affect of music and how a good vibe can multiply from from person to suddenly a whole block party. I really loved Dance Hall videos and Japanese Anime so I mashed them together this time.

How does House of Marley differ from other brands?

Almost every brand, especially in the beginning, tries to build content for what they’re selling while Marley House is built on the spirit of Bob Marley and Reggae music culture.

What are you most excited about your relationship with House of Marley?

I’m proud that I got to collaborate with Gabe and Tracey, friends I’ve known for years but never had a chance to work with, and on a project that visually encompasses many of my favorite things.

When you were approached about the project, what was the direction given and then how did you approach your execution/interpretation?

The creative brief was very open and trusting, they wanted to know how I’d interpret Bob Marley’s ideals without making him as the focus, and how do we portray one becoming many. I know that Psyop was in this mix since were known for a certain visual storytelling and look, but I wanted push this idea I’ve had going on in my head and see how it’d actually look like.

How influential has music been in your creative evolution?

I love the match cut style in Major Lazer’s Get Free video it’s awesome, so is the song to. When I imagined the 3 stories I wanted to show, nothing else seemed to work so perfectly as Major Lazer did, so we edited with “Watch Out For This (Bumaye)” and couldn’t imagine anything else.

How different is film directing from strictly animating?

It’s a different kind of trust when you’re working with your artists and crew but the storytelling aspect is the same to me. In film I’m collaborating with cinematographers and actors and other crew members that are going to give me a performance that may or may not turn out the way I saw it in my mind. It’s a different kind of collaboration that becomes something different or even better than I imagined it in the beginning. This could be the same for animation also but outcome is much more refined and honed in, basically each frame can be manipulated and I have complete control if there’s enough time

Author: Robert Marshall

*Originally posted on HYPEBEAST