Hive Five: Death Grips' Tips on How to Shoot a $20 Music Video

[caption id="attachment_31604" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media"]Death Grips[/caption]

Whether strapped in by a seatbelt of static or zoomed in on a woman laying on top of a kicked-down Village Voice stand, Sacramento's Death Grips know how to churn out low-budget, yet high-impact music videos. Of the 13 tracks off last year's free mixtape Exmilitary, six of them have music videos to their name -- often strangely perfect matches for their equally visceral punk-rap recordings.

And for now, even after signing a record deal to Epic last month, their approach isn't likely to change: roam around with shitty Canon cameras and flashlights on hand, without any real plan or route, and scream as much as they'd like. With their latest lo-fi video hitting the 'net this week for "The Fever (Aye Aye)," Death Grips' drummer Zach Hill offered a few tips to Hive on how to shoot a memorable music video with $20 or less.

1. Turn to Everyday Situations

"Guillotine (It Goes Yah)" -- that's a very anxiety-fueled song and claustrophobic in a sense, but then at the same time it has an unsettling quality. So, it makes total sense to start filming in a car. It's an example of where we were trying to find some claustrophobic, familiar environment and like, a real environment. I think that's why people are really connecting to as well, to seeing an environment that they see themselves, where they've had that same sort of feeling as well.

2. Embrace the Old Adage, "Less Is More" and Not Just Monetarily Speaking

There isn't an ideal scenario in the way we work, because the things we imagine in our minds aren't accessible and within our budget. So even if we think of an ideal location in our imagination, maybe it's not realistic for us to make that happen. So we were forced to work with whatever's available to us because of those limitations. Those limitations are actually what creates the videos in the first place.

3. Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Good Bargains and Rare Items Like Police Sirens

I found those at a secondhand technological store in downtown Sacramento. We had the idea of somehow incorporating those into the "Get Got" video and thought of what we ended up doing, standing up on the Capitol building and all that. I went in there, and there was an English man in there. He said they weren't for sale, but plenty of people would ask to buy them. I couldn't really understand what he was actually saying. Ultimately he decided to sell them to me, and I don't even know why. They were on display with old PCs and iPhones, PlayStations and stuff, and I guess that's why he hadn't sold them in the past -- because they were on display. But he was saying how it's crazy how many people ask if they can buy them, and so he was like, "Fuck, I'll just sell them to you." It's funny, because it's a business that I don't think is necessarily doing that well. I mean, I'm very grateful that he decided to sell them to me; that was great. But then I was like, "Why don't you just sell them so that other people can buy it then?" It was kind of a weird exchange. They were $20. Best $20. We spend money on gas to get to places, but as far as any type of prop, we have a nonexistent budget.

4. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

I met this woman in New York City; her name is Carla. It was, like, in 6 in the morning. We had to make a stop in New York City for this other thing we were shooting, and this woman, she had a tower of cigarettes. I don't know if you see that, but she's essentially paying with a tower of cigarette packs that were stuffed into each other. I wish I had been filming this, but she walked over and she kicked over that Village Voice stand and laid down on it -- and I was like, "Whoa, this woman is amazing."

We were sort of watching her as Stefan [Burnett, vocalist] was walking outside, so we started filming him walking around her, and she seemingly had no idea what we were there for, no knowledge that we were even paying any mind to what we were doing. After we filmed that visual we went outside to smoke, and after smoking and after watching her, she basically caught my attention and waved me down and asked me to come hang out with her. So I hung out with her for 15 to 20 minutes and she talked to me about life. She was talking about Christmas a lot.

5. Embark Upon Territory That May or May Not Belong to You, With a Gas Mask If Possible

I'll give you an example -- that "Takyon" video. I was homeless last year, while we were working through Ex-military. I got back from Japan, and the house I was living in for four years had been sold, so I had to move out and I didn't have anywhere to go. I ended up in this industrial basement, and then upstairs in the building was an office complex. This one Sunday we were filming that video, and we decided to go upstairs to that office, where we weren't supposed to go, and then we started filming. There's that scene where Stefan is checking all the doors and one of them was unlocked, so it was improvisational that we walked into that space. Then in the video you hear this woman say, "Hello?" People were in there, and yeah, that turned into a really crazy, kind of scary scenario. Stefan was wearing all black, and the way he looked in that [gas] mask. It was really scary and real to him, which I understand. They thought we were there to -- whatever, and then it turned into this crazy thing. The woman was screaming, but in the video is all you hear is, "Hello?" We cut it.

It's not like, "Oh, let's go to this illegal location" or things like that; naturally, we end up in those spots. I guess that's how we relate to graffiti artists. We just wander around with a camera and flashlights and then find places. Maybe we're naturally drawn to spots where we're not supposed to be.

Death Grips new album, The Money Store, is out April 24 on Epic.