Galloping forth from the the stable gates, Kodacrome's duo of Elissa Pociask and Ryan Casey present the debut of their video for "Strike the Gold". Like a day spent down by the stalls at the racetrack, prepare to gaze into the glance of the recurring motif and returned stare from the enrapturing eyes of a dark chestnut mare. The song's beauty of organized struggle strikes a chord like the training that goes into the preparation to accomplish the goal and gold trophy of the great Kentucky Derby pageant called life.
The frame of a horse's main moving up close starts the visualization for "Strike the Gold". The camera fixes the focus on the horse's eye, peering view into the equestrian windows of a prize animal's soul as the sportscast announcer sample gets geared for the racetrack. As the song's picks up and spins into a new kinetic rhythm from the inviting synth loop sparkle cascade; Kelsey Siepser preps her lucky gold striking equine creature for a race and a ride caught in slow motion. As Kodacrome's single flashes into the closing array of multi-effected vocals and wilder keyboard patterns, we return our central gaze to the horse's heartfelt stare and fanning waves of plumage.
Having explored this single prior in Kodacrome's headline Week in Pop feature, Elissa and Ryan were generous enough to further discuss the video adaptation, the power of slow motion song correlations, derby horse memories and stories, along with more dreams of horses.
I like how the horse jockeying video springs to life from the "clench your bets" lyric in the beginning. How did horse jockeying spring to life as the visualization choice for "Strike The Gold"?
Elissa: 'Strike The Gold' is the name of a derby horse I recall from a very early childhood memory. I remember being very attached to this particular race he ran in as a six-year-old. It was probably one of the first times I ever felt truly competitive. In looking back I realized it's strange that I remember all of these particular details of a very old moment in esoteric sports history, so I figured there was something to that. That's what adrenaline does to you. It slows down time, and blows everything up to a point where you have no rational overview of what's happening. You're just caught in all of these details. I wanted to explore all of that with this song.
Is there a deeper equestrian passion within Kodacrome?
Ryan: I've been around horses quite a bit actually, but I've never ridden one. Honestly they kind of scare me. They are so powerful.
E: There's no concrete equestrian passion for me beyond the memory of this race. I agree horses are beautiful animals, but when I decided to make this video, I knew we had to find someone who really connected to the sport and the animal. So our actress, (Kelsey Siepser) was such an obvious choice, since she had a very deep connection to that whole world.
How did the horse's eye become such a focal point of the video?
R: It was my favorite shot and I just wanted to keep using it. If we could have shot that at like 12,000 fps that could have ended up being the whole video!
E: When we initially met with the directors, we kept returning to this idea of emphasizing microcosmic perspective. The eye ended up being such a great moment – something really beautiful in its own context, without even representing the horse as a whole.
The video is filmed in slow motion to relish on the song's more emotive parts. Why do you both feel that more and more auteurs are utilizing the the extra frame rates and greater pause in music video translations?
R: I didn't know they were but it makes sense. Only a few years ago it was prohibitively expensive to shoot high speed video. And shooting high speed film of course is exponentially more expensive. Now it's getting to be somewhat affordable so we will see more of it I'm sure, for better or worse. Slow motion works well with any piece of music that has weight really. It's hard to replicate the feeling using normal frame rates. Also on a more base level, you can shoot a rock tumbling down a hill at 3,000 fps and it will look amazing. Not so much in real time.
E: On a less practical note, I wanted to use the higher frame rate because, like I mentioned, the whole song to me is an examination of what happens to time and perspective in the face of fear or adrenaline. Anyone who has ever had to rise to a challenge has experienced that sort of breathless stretch of life that sucks the blood out of you. I think once it happens to you, you decide if you want to chase it, or never do it again. As a performer, I like to chase it.
Do you both frequent horse race tracks?
R: Never been. But I lose my shirt at every shit casino I walk into so I plan on staying away.
E: The only time I went to the race track was to see the Wiener Dog races in Berkeley a few years back. Somehow, not quite as majestic . . .
Is horse racing a dying art of the past as most gambling endeavours and games of chance are reserved for the state of Nevada, on reservations and online virtual card tables slots?
E: I never meant to make any type of commentary about the world of horse racing, as I'm largely unversed on that scene. My personal connection to racing, or competitive sports altogether is more about the beauty of organized struggle. It strikes a chord in me, and gives me a real sense of purpose, even if my personal struggle isn't athletic.
R: Yes it is, though some art deserves to die. Horse racing is archaic and there's really no need to involve such an impressive animal as a horse in man's gambling vice. That said I'm pretty sure the Kentucky Derby is alive and well, though arguably more about hats and mint juleps these days. Which is fine. I like hats and alcohol.