An iTunes commercial, a VMA Video of the Year nod and half a million songs sold is not a bad way to kick off your first single as a band. But for the — British duo Katie White and Jules De Martino — all of this was a happy accident.
In fact, the hit that made this all possible, "Shut Up and Let Me Go," wasn't even the band's first choice as a single.
"We were gonna release 'That's Not My Name' [in the U.S.] first," De Martino explained. "But we did a festival, South By Southwest in Texas, and the Apple guys pounced on the band and used 'Shut Up and Let Me Go' for an advert. And so it really put the single back because that advert was played internationally as well, and it just started getting aired, and I think we got recognized from that advert at that point, especially in the States."
Now "That's Not My Name" is getting its chance to shine, with an equally shiny video. The Tings have reteamed with the directing duo Alex and Liane, who helmed the VMA-nominated "Shut Up and Let Me Go" video. The directors are banking the visual effects on a reflective material called Scotchlite.
"That's actually an obsession of Alex and Liane — they like to use a lot of Scotch tape in everything," White said. "But you can only see it when the light's pointing at it, so it just catches the camera really well."
The result makes for a striking real-time effect. At the band's nighttime video shoot — in the desert 40 minutes north of Los Angeles — everything from the set to the wardrobe was accented with the material. On camera, anything with Scotchlite popped out on screen, creating a silhouette around whatever it was on. Throw in about 50 extras cheerleading, jumping rope, drumming and sign-spinning all around the band, and you've got a pretty crazy spectacle.
While the band definitely stands out in the video, the song is actually about the opposite.
"We wrote this song when we were going through a bit of a horrible time," White explained. "We've been in a band before this one, and with more members, and have been signed and dropped without even getting an album out, and we felt really frustrated and unconfident at the time. The song's not literally about going for a night out and someone forgetting your name. It's just about feeling invisible and prejudged, and people making their minds up about you and what they think of you isn't really true. It's a bit of a 'screw you' song, about feeling frustrated."
From that experience with their previous band, Dear Eskiimo, White and De Martino learned to take their career at their own pace. So instead of using the momentum from "Shut Up and Let Me Go" to churn out a slew of singles, the band would rather take it one step at a time.
"I think we try to avoid just being a big marketed pop thing that was suddenly arrived in everybody's lives in the U.K.," White said. "So we started releasing our own records and then releasing singles to build up, and I think we'd like to do the same in the States. Rather than just suddenly being paid to be in everybody's faces, we'd rather just let in grow naturally."