Music video and promotion company seeks to connect musicians, artists with wider audience
An Airstream trailer tucked into a downtown Austin retail space at 210 Guadalupe St. might not be something a casual window shopper would see every day, but the team behind On-Airstreaming said this uniqueness is what helps the video and promotions company build a connection between musicians and fans.
“There’s been a disconnect, I think, in media between the fan and musician lately,” said Paul Boukadakis, who manages the video and film aspect of the business.
The team consists of Boukadakis, Lead Interviewer J.B. Hager, Lead Audio Technician Reid Mangan, Artist Relations Manager Sam Shah and Social Media Manager Steve Shugg. They use three to four handheld cameras to capture the close-quarter music created inside the aluminum shell of the Airstream. The company also records interviews with musicians, and fans are sometimes invited onboard for the sessions. Videos of past sessions are also available on the company’s website for fans to stream.
“Say this was a venue without an Airstream, and a band set up. They would set it up the same way they do every night,” Hager said. “They’d put up the full drum kit and the keyboard and everything would just be like they [normally] perform. Doing it in an Airstream forces them to improvise and pare it down and get creative.”
The team said this type of format has produced sessions that bring both the musicians and audience members to tears.
“You’re kind of sitting in on a therapy session with these artists every time they come in because they’re really showing you a completely intimate and raw side of themselves” Boukadakis said. “That’s what we try to pull out of every session.”
On-Airstreaming started doing interviews and taping sessions in 2010. When the Airstream was based in Pecan Grove RV Park, the team would also take the trailer to other places throughout Austin. The Airstream moved to its downtown location in 2012 when the team decided they wanted to share the music sessions with an audience and escape the Texas heat.
Some musicians who have used the trailer include Allen Stone, The Civil Wars, Cold War Kids, Daughter, Group Love, Blitzen Trapper and Guster.
Shah said On-Airstreaming prefers to discover bands and watch them grow into bigger acts while connecting them with new audiences.
“That’s very special to be a part of, especially turning people on to new bands,” Shah said. “They’re going to our website and checking out the videos and discovering a handful of new acts that they never would have come across.”
Coming up, the On-Airstreaming team is working to get Neko Case, a folk-rock musician, into the trailer by the end of January, 2014..
Outside the music
Though On-Airstreaming is known for its music, team member Paul Boukadakis said all artistic expression is welcomed in the downtown trailer.
“On-Airstreaming is not just about expression of music, it’s about art in any form,” Boukadakis said.
Local artist and muralist Mike Johnston, also known as Truth, was brought in by the owners to help enliven a blank wall in the company’s Guadalupe Street space. The owners said they let Johnston have free rein to produce anything on the wall. J.B. Hager, lead interviewer, said the company is going to have an art show at On-Airstreaming featuring other street artists.
“We started with music, but really, On-Airstreaming is just a platform to grow art. That’s definitely the road map,” Boukadakis said. “It is applying this [road map] to different art forms and taking that same intimacy and raw, authentic essence and applying it to a wider spectrum.”
Most memorable musicians
- One of the most memorable interviews for Reid Mangan, lead audio technician, was the folk-rock group Dawes. Mangan said they made a night production out of the event and provided pizza, beer and margaritas for the audience. When Dawes went to play an encore set, they brought the music outside the trailer and played just a few feet from the crowd. “There wasn’t one person that left after that session that wasn’t just totally in awe of what they just experienced because this is a band that is going to be huge, if not already huge,” Mangan said.
- For Sam Shah, artist relations manager, the band that stands out in his memory is the British band Daughter. Before the session date, the band signed to a record label, and Shah said it was exciting to begin working with a band so early in its career and watching the musicians develop. “The timing was perfect,” Shah said. “Everything aligned so well to get in that early. I love that band, and I love that video.”
- J.B. Hager, lead interviewer, said his favorite experience was with a British band called The Hours. Hager said he was impressed the band made a record with Joe Strummer of The Clash called “Global a Go Go.” What also made the session special for Hager was that the band, after the session, began writing a new song. “I grew up listening to The Clash, so sitting there and interviewing these guys and talking about Joe Strummer, who has since passed away, it was just amazing,” Hager said.
- Film Director Paul Boukadakis’ most memorable artist to sit in the Airstream is Allen Stone, a soul musician from Washington. The trailer was at Hotel St. Cecelia off of South Congress Avenue for the recording, and Boukadakis said while Stone played a cover of a song, people from a nearby music video premiere gathered around On-Airstreaming’s video monitors to listen to the performance. “They are just focused on [the performance], and somebody took a picture outside the tent, and I just remember seeing that picture and thinking, ‘That’s the power of what we’re doing,'” Boukadakis said.