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Inside Steven Alan

Q&A: Will Abramson of Yours Truly

  • September 12th, 2012 | Music

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    We met Will Abramson last year and have become fans of the personal, beautifully raw independent music videos he’s been making with his creative collective, Yours Truly. We find ourselves checking back often for new sounds, or to see some of our favorite bands as we haven’t seen them before, performing in small, casual settings.  Will recently spoke with us about his work and shared a few of his favorite behind the scenes experiences:

    The videos Yours Truly creates are different in that they tend to have a spontaneous, intimate feel. How do you create that atmosphere of trust and collaboration among the artists and filmmakers you work with?

    Yours Truly was named after our favorite way of signing letters. We love letters. And just like letters we wanted people to see that our work is hand-crafted. Made by people who really care about the artists, the songs, and the setting. We’re really careful about the bands we choose to shoot because you’re not going to write a letter to just anyone. It has to be someone who will appreciate your effort and reciprocate. I think our ability to achieve that intimacy comes from the fact that we’re a small team of good friends, doing work that we’re really proud of for artists that truly matter.

    {Lee Fields showed up at our house in Austin exactly on time at 9am ready to eat. I’d promised him breakfast with fresh eggs plucked from the chicken coop in the back. Hung over and running late, I hustled to make him and the band breakfast, and they paid me back in spades with one of the realest displays of human emotion I’ve ever seen.}

    Your job sounds pretty amazing.  How did you get into it?

    It seems cliche but I kind of fell into it. I graduated with a degree in Music Business from USC, worked at Yahoo! Music, and a company called imeem that doesn’t exist anymore, running the site’s editorial and music marketing when I discovered and fell in love with the take away shows. In 2007, La Blogothèque‘s founder Chryde visited San Francisco and introduced me to Nate Chan who was already filming take-away-shows in the city. At that time I had already been producing videos with rappers and singers and songwriters for imeem with my best friend from high school, so the three of us got together and decided we were going to start something of our own, Yours Truly.

    When we last met, you told us some stories about crazy things that have happened behind the scenes or while filming (including the time you chased down a thief in the middle of a shoot). Has anything particularly bizarre happened since then?

    I’m not sure if this is considered bizarre, but a few months ago we were scheduled to shoot the singer Lianne La Havas at the abandoned zoo in LA. We’d planned on a simple acoustic session but it turned into a full blown music video! Lianne has a song called “Age” where she talks about falling in love with an older man. So I was thinking, “wouldn’t it be cool if I got some old guy to come dance with Lianne during this song.” Well, I found an old guy named Reggae Pops who is famous around LA for showing up to shows and dancing with people’s girlfriends. We’d just finished the acoustic set with Lianne when Reggae Pops shows up and Lianne starts screaming, “Reggae Pops, what are you doing here?” Turns out they’d danced together that Sunday at the legendary LA club, The Do-Over, and hit it off. One thing led to another and the next day we were shooting our very first music video starring Lianne and Reggae Pops.

    {This isn’t one of our best videos but it’s definitely one of the best stories. We were filming the Local Natives on railroad tracks in Chicago and halfway through the first take, a woman started screaming, “NO, STOP!” from the sidewalk a few hundred yards away. I’m not sure what was going through my head, but I just took off running, and I ended up catching the guy and giving the girl back her purse.}

    We imagine much of your days consist of listening to music. A lot. What are some of your favorite sources for discovering new artists?

    Nothing gets me more excited than discovering new music. It’s my favorite part of the job! When I hear something I like my hands get sweaty and I start to pray that it will keep being good and get better as the track plays. It’s kind of an emotional process actually. I have a blog roll of about 300 blogs that I check every day. I follow about 500 producers, labels, and various folks on SoundCloud (which is my new favorite place to find music). I read twitter like mad, tumblr too, and we get hundreds of emails from people every day asking us to check out their stuff. Sorting through it all is madness but it’s worth it for the rare gems.

    What’s playing on repeat these days?

    I’ve been pretty obsessed with all the music coming out of the UK lately. 2-step, garage, post-dubstep, and specifically how all those things cross over into R&B. I’ve always loved 90′s R&B and I love how artists are starting to blend different elements into traditional R&B song structures. Here’s a short list: Jessie Ware, Disclosure, Aluna George, Miguel, Two inch Punch, Lapalux, Face + Heel, Onra, Frank Ocean, Bondax, this Danish singer MO, The Superhumanoids. And there’s this 23 year old rapper from Atlanta who makes super steamy R&B tunes named Forte Bowie that I love. We’re going to help him with his debut album.

    {Willis is not a singer. He’s a wizard. Visiting him in a claustrophobic room off the kitchen of his grandmother’s house just big enough for a bed, a mini-fridge, an over-stuffed file cabinet, and semi-permanent stacks of Bukowski novels, CDs, newspaper clippings, clothes, and a boombox was nothing short of voodoo. It’s the one shoot where I felt like I was being invited into a space never before seen by human eyes.}

    What’s next for Yours Truly? Any exciting projects in the pipeline?

    Tons! We’ll be releasing Forte Bowie’s “Passion and Confusion” mixtape in October. That same month we’ll be hosting two events during CMJ at 285 Kent and Glasslands respectively. From September 25 – October 15 we’ll be in the UK filming some of our favorite bands from across the pond and producing a documentary on The Warehouse Project for Pitchfork. And I’m especially excited to continue work on our “Songs from Scratch” project with Adidas Originals. Our last one paired Danny Brown with Araabmuzik and I can’t wait for people to see what we’re cooking up next.

    Many thanks to Will! You can check out more videos at

    This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 at 5:55 pm and is filed under Music. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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