by Xristopher Bland
Where hula hoops, skiing and choreographed dance routines normally appear so disparate that to inhabit the same space would seem to guarantee one of them a trip to the hospital, British Columbian folk-fusion band Shred Kelly blends them amazingly and befittingly in their video for “Sing to the Night,” the title release from their third album by the same name and arguably the most epic ski-themed music video ever produced. As a Canadian band melding traditional and modern sounds, Shred Kelly is redefining what folk music means in Canada. They’ve answered such questions as “Can a banjo and synthesizer get together for incredible dance-party effect?” (to which the answer is a clear yes) and such is their energy that they’ve put their hometown of Fernie, BC, on the map as inventors of a new musical genre, dubbed “stoke-folk” (folk music that gets you stoked).
As the perfect reflection of what the band is about, the video begins almost nonchalantly against the snow of the Fernie Alpine Resort as band members Tim Newton, Ian Page Shiner, Jordan Vlasschaert, Ty West and Sage McBride ease in front of the camera. Dressed in what can only be described as funk-tacularly colorful ski outfits from the 1970s and ‘80s, they begin a casual shred downward. (In total, the band did seven complete takes of the video.) In each movement, a bristling kind of energy builds—a quirky combination of style, movement and big-sky joy that speaks to why they regularly perform to packed houses. They pay it out with a practiced timing that doesn’t seem practiced, and as the pace quickens, a purely spectacular ride unfolds.
If the word magical also comes to mind, it’s due in no small part to videographer and professional skier Dylan Siggers, who incredibly filmed the whole video while skiing backwards. Yet the real magic comes from his unbroken shot. As a technique, it’s related to television and magicians, who didn’t want viewers to believe their illusions were the result of camera cutaway trickery. As assurance to viewers, TV producers developed the single unbroken shot, which is one thing to do with a tripod-mounted camera but another thing entirely when the camera is handheld and the cinematographer is sliding down a mountain. Yet Siggers frames and captures it all with such finesse and fluidity that the first minute easily passes before noticing he isn’t just employing a filmic technique connected to magicians. He’s a magician himself, orchestrating the whole thing down to that concluding moment when one is compelled to say, “Well holy crap. That was awesome”—a phrase applicable to the album.
Produced by John Critchley (Elliott Brood, Dan Mangan, Amelia Curran), Sing to the Night may be too high on the energy scale for easy-listening moments. Yet as the craftwork of a band more about accessibility and electrification than introspection, the album shows striking creative growth and new depths to the band’s signature sound—a fused definition of folk reaching such new places, one can’t help but wonder, “I wonder what it would be like to strap on some skis, grab a hula hoop and go for a ride there.”
Important Note: 'While you may be inspired to air-ski along with Shred Kelly in your living room, please note that protective head gear is still recommended, even if you have guests over. And if you have a retina-stinging ski suit from the ‘80s, all the better.' - Xris
Editors Note: Had to have a play on words when titling this article after reading Xris's last line. These guys were too good not to! What a great Band with an even greater video!