Music Through The Hourglass
For over three years now, Hourglass Sessions have been making their mark on Richmond’s vibrant music scene with incredible videos featuring a bevy of musical talents. Creating a fertile space where collaborative creativity flourishes, the brains behind the camera, Dillon Douglasson and Tyler Scheerschmidt, have been orchestrating an innovative blend of sound and visual storytelling in each of their videos. It’s not just Richmond’s own Tiny Desk or a continuation of popular local series like RVATrack or Brewer’s Sessions — Hourglass provides artists a chance to amplify their art in creative ways, whether it be by illuminating a box truck with radiant talent or by filling a stadium with electric passion. Each video in their portfolio stands out on its own, with a special sound guiding a unique environment that’s all captured in one continuous take, something that makes musicians elevate themselves in a completely new way.
For their 50th video, the Hourglass team set out to raise the stakes even higher with a video cover of the iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody” that features countless alumni from the first 49 Hourglass videos. Ambitious to say the least, the duo behind the scenes pulled out all logistical stops for this video, which serves as a love letter to Richmond’s versatile and inspiring music scene. Before its official release on YouTube, Hourglass will unveil this project at a special video release party on Sunday, August 27th at Godfrey’s, which will also feature music from Deau Eyes, Cassidy Snider, and Andrew Bonieskie all backed by the Trunk Show Band.
With such an important occasion on the horizon, The Auricular wanted to take a look back at the 49 videos that make up the Hourglass story so far and Tyler Scheerschmidt was more than happy to accommodate us by picking out ten(ish) videos that really showcase the impressive reach of Hourglass as well as its artistic resonance. The videos below really lay out the impact and importance of Hourglass Sessions for Richmond, but also let us know that bigger and better things are still in store for us.
Kendall Street Company – “Eyes Of The World”
First up, a kaleidoscopic jungle that’s enhanced by the vivid color of a band locked into a passionate groove. “It was an honor to work with these talented lads,” Scheerschmidt gushed. “Their sheer volume of quality music & their tendency to not take themselves too seriously really caught our eye.” That mindset guides the video where the backdrops create several fetching moments that could make up a portfolio worth of “hero shots” for each member.
“We were very fortunate to have Lewis Ginter keep their special holiday lights up for an extra week just for our production,” Scheerschmidt explained, detailing how much of Hourglass is built on timely luck and communal support for some videos. Still though, it takes judicious minds behind the camera to really pull off a video like this, one that jumps out of the screen with color and personality, both from the wonderful setting and sublime band.
Earl From Yonder – “Devil Wins Again / Gangsters Don’t Talk About Business”
Naturally, the frenetic rap-punk artist leads the most chaotic entry in this list, though the video also carries another special distinction within the Hourglass canon. “We can confirm that Yonder is the only artist we’ve worked with who has been able to do their session in one try,” Scheerschmidt revealed. “We rehearsed the video bit by bit, but when it came to putting it all together, we really only had one shot. Yonder was committed to going all-out, and it was really important to us to capture that energy.”
“Capturing the energy” may be putting it lightly here as the video moves from a menacing stoic stance from Earl (while juxtaposed with a surreal Nickelodeon cartoon character) before he sprints into the yard of Powers BMX where he performs in every vertical and horizon inch possible while bicycles, both dirt and street, roll around him.
“We also really like this session because we were able to do a lot with little resources,” Scheerschmidt continued. “Yonder has a very outside-the-box mentality when it comes to performance, which I think is clear to see when he’s getting on his friend’s shoulders & ‘breaking’ the lens of the camera at the end of the video.”
Rikki Rakki – “Souls” & Catie Lausten – “Psycho Bitch”
January, 2023 & October, 2022
Two entries for the price of one here, but the Hourglass folks are always trying to cram in as much as they possibly can even if it means breaking the rules. “Okay, we are cheating here,” Scheerschmidt justifies. “We love each of these sessions equally. Each demonstrates how simply putting musicians in a space outside the studio can externalize their essence as artists and can result in one-of-a-kind performances.” It’s easy to see why — both entries find the songs becoming elevated by their surroundings, as Rikki Rakki embraces the native roots of a spirit and Catie Lausten becomes the static center of a swirling plea.
For “Souls,” we find a full band bringing bustling energy to a serene landscape, showing that vibrant life still grows even at its calmest moments. Everything glows in harmony here in the song with a sense of unity among the musicians that mirrors the tranquility of the natural setting. It’s not Rikki Rakki without a little rowdiness too, which they bring on the second verse that injects an element of lively spirit into the performance.
“Psycho Bitch” offers a visually captivating experience as well, where the camera skillfully navigates through a skate park setting. The dynamic visuals feature both the band performing and skaters engaged in their routines, creating a sense of vibrant activity and youthful energy. Amidst this bustling backdrop, Catie Lausten delivers a passionate and intense performance that resonates with the song’s yearning theme and commands the video with her poised presence.
N3ptune & Rusty Steve – “White Pony”
Though Hourglass is RVA to the core, their videos have also featured artists from outside the region, which helps show that it’s not just about local talent, but about creating a collaborative and diverse musical community. By bringing in artists from beyond the area, Hourglass demonstrates a commitment to expanding their creative horizons and embracing a wider range of influences, which hopefully will lead to Hourglass being a national force with local roots we will always remember.
“We wanted to add an artist from out of town to this list to demonstrate that our ambitions for the future of Hourglass extend outside the city to artists everywhere,” Scheerschmidt states. “N3ptune & Rusty Steve were on tour with Sleigh Bells and had a free evening to collaborate with us. This was shot in Plant Zero, our old studio where we held our Metaverse live streams. It was one of the last shared studio spaces in RVA & we are sad to say that it has been torn down. We hope this video can remind people what an important space that was in the artistic community. We need more of them.”
For the last hurray of that space, N3ptune and Rusty Steve light up the space, outshining each colorful backdrop with a magnetic performance that even ends on an iconic shot. The tracking style of Hourglass excels here, making what’s a simple concept of different backdrops and lighting soar with urgency and enthusiasm as the band follows N3ptune around through powerful scenes of stirring poses and rousing music.
Weekend Plans – “Dance With Me”
Could you do a video about a dashing funk song entitled “Dance With Me” without having some choreographed dancers? Sure… but it won’t be that fun. Over a frothy bass line and entrancing melody, Weekend Plans delivers a tight performance here while a trio of dancers add their rhythmic flair.
“We can’t go without mentioning Christine Wyatt,” Scheerschmidt interjects. “She was an enormous help in producing this project & is why it stands as one of the best.” Known for their larger-than-life performances, any video from Weekend Plans is sure to delight, but it’s the Hourglass touch that really brings in an extra level of excitement and engagement.
“The vibe of this video is off the charts,” Scheerschmidt continued. “Weekend Plans brought their A game, the dancing is superb, the wardrobe is incredibly stylish. We just love this one.”
CAS – “Oversized Comedown”
Obviously, the music comes first for Hourglass videos, but locations clearly matter as one can see by the several memorable settings already popping up on this list, each of them turning sublime performances into indelible memories. For Richmond though, you don’t get much more memorable than The Diamond nestled comfortably on Arthur Ashe Boulevard, so it’s only natural that a video from that iconic landmark is going to make an appearance on this list.
“CAS really dreamed big for this session,” Scheerschmidt remarks. “While we were working on another project, he casually mentioned that he wanted to film in the middle of the baseball diamond. One cold call to the stadium later and we had it locked down. It was a surreal experience as a film producer. I think this session shows that you never know what can happen if you just reach out.”
Of course, CAS rises to the grand occasion, his nuanced talent carrying the emotional weight of the song as he stands in the center of the baseball stadium. As the reverb drenches the whole area with electric rapture, the talent on-screen soars with a poignant intensity that seems to harmonize with the very essence of the location, spreading musical joy across a vast pitch in a spectacle that can rival any achievement the stadium has housed in its almost forty-year existence.
Deau Eyes – “The Bow”
Hourglass isn’t just about filming within large, notable landmarks though. Sometimes, the limitations of a space can inspire a video even more than the endless possibilities, a lesson that the Hourglass team learned well from Deau Eyes. “When Ali and Michael Thibodeau pitched us the idea to film their session in the back of a U-Haul truck, we were very skeptical and were leaning towards telling them no,” Scheerschmidt remembered. “We thought the sound would be bad and there would be no room to move the camera. They insisted that we do it and… wow… we are so glad that they did.”
The attention to detail is key here with an impressive number of decorations transforming a narrow space into a glowing haven of musical expression. It’s not a total transformation though, as people are still showing moving boxes on the outside of the truck before loading the ramp up and driving away, making it a pure assertion of creativity within constraints.
“From a creativity standpoint, it’s our best session to date I think,” Scheerschmidt pointed out. “The performance, the production design — it’s as close to perfect as you can get. Plus, the surprise at the end of the video, when the truck drives away while they’re still playing. That’s my favorite ‘movie magic trick’ we’ve ever done. ‘Trust the artist.’ That’s what we learned from this.”
No BS! Brass – “Vibrate Higher”
Hourglass has been around for over three years now and while they’ve become an important and integral part of the local music scene, it’s still early to gift them with a third moniker: institution. Few things in Richmond get to that level, though the No BS! Brass folks have definitely been up there for several years now. “From the beginning of doing these sessions, we’ve always wanted to work with No BS!,” Scheerschmidt remarked. “They’re Richmond legends and when the opportunity finally came, it was a benchmark moment for the company.”
But as much as a performance by No BS! can help elevate any space around time, it’s also up to the people behind the scenes to make sure they’re ready to amplify the band’s presence and highlight their unique skill. “We knew we had to go all-out,” Scheerschmidt continued. “With the help of BES Studios and some freaking cool projection mapping, it came out better than we could’ve hoped for.”
That projection mapping certainly helps the video live up to the lofty reputation of NO BS! Brass, gifting them a stratified backdrop that eventually propels them into the stars above and allows them to dazzle as brightly as those gleaming lights.
Erin & The Wildfire – “Little Me”
Dropping a sublime pop-rock group into a space decorated into a yesteryear mishmash of line dancing halls and school promenades is definitely a winning formula, even if it proved to be one of the more difficult shoots in the collective’s portfolio. Everything needs a balance though. While some videos are triumphs in proficiency, other videos turn into drills of perseverance that still churn out something amazing in the end.
“I’d say this was the most challenging session we’ve done,” Scheerschmidt stated. “For one thing, we were short half of Hourglass Sessions: sound engineer Dillon Douglasson couldn’t be at this one so we had Ellis Warner fill in (who did an excellent job, by the way). It was in the dead of winter, there was no heating in the building, limited power, and it was a massive space to light by myself with limited resources. I distinctly remember how I lit the space completely wrong at first and Erin’s manager walked into the room and said, ‘wow…it’s dark in here.’ I spent the next hour internally panicking and relighting the room until I got it right, and I’m really proud of how it looks. Props to Christina Swanson on this one, who spearheaded the creative direction on this project and blew up all those balloons for us.”
No matter the context though, the video here soars as Erin Lunsford fills the nostalgic space with her stirring voice, equally gentle and forceful. The band behind her is as punchy and soulful as ever and as the high notes hit in the song, the camera captures the expanse of the hall, adorned with its blend of vintage decorations. The fusion of the throwback atmosphere and the band’s contemporary pop-rock sound creates a wonderful contrast that exemplifies the power of creative fusion… even if it was a little stressful at the onset.
Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers – “Sleeping”
Sometimes it’s about contrast within the Hourglass world, whereas other times, you just want to turn everything about a band’s sound and aesthetic up to eleven. Enter Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers, a dynamic band that brings 21st-century saloon spirit to any stage they grace. When it came to formulating their video, the Hourglass didn’t complicate matters at all, choosing to dump that tavern sound into an obvious yet resourceful spot.
“The energy that Cassidy brings is stellar & her sound is truly one of a kind,” Scheerschmidt stated. “This was one of the most fun we’ve had on an Hourglass shoot — everyone was really happy to be there. Filmed at Home Sweet Home, which is also where we shot No BS! Brass’s ‘Bad News’ music video. Shout out to Mac Wood who brought Cassidy’s signature cartoon characters to life to flip the hourglass.”
Slick and stylish, every element on the screen synergizes to deliver an engaging and dynamic visual representation of the band’s music. The end result is something that raises the ceiling for everyone involved, revealing how the local music scene and Hourglass prop each other up equally with each new session.
Andrew Bonieskie – “With A Smile”
Wasn’t this supposed to be a top 10 list? How did we end up with 12 videos here? Typical Hourglass — giving us way more than we expected. “We’re cheating again, but this one is very, very important to us,” Scheerschmidt reasoned. “We wanted to dig into the archives and pull out a session that shows our roots.” Dig into the roots they did with their fifth-ever video posted only a month after the Hourglass concept was officially launched.
“Hourglass started as a creative outlet for us during the COVID lockdown,” Scheerschmidt recounted. “At the time, Dillon and I lived together on Clay St. in a big house full of musicians. We’d film different sessions for each other in different rooms of the house, both to prototype the idea of the sessions & to keep ourselves sane. You’ll see that the Hourglass crew are actually performing in the video, myself on the piano and Dillon on drums. Nowadays, Bones (Andrew Bonieskie), JDIII (the bassist in this session), Dillon, and myself play in Pebbles Palace.”
The video comes with a moniker that states “a man with pipes bigger than his hair,” but when watching it, you realize that the only thing exceeding both is his striking personality, which brings a theatrical flair to the proceedings. Of course, the Richmond scene has become accustomed to that fantastic performance style from Bones as part of Pebbles Palace, but back then, it was something the scene was only beginning to get a taste of.
Bones himself will be one of the many featured performers in the upcoming 50th Hourglass Sessions though, something Scheerschmidt notes brings the thing full circle for everyone involved. It’s bound to be a big celebration this Sunday at Godfrey’s so make sure to show up, take in some great live music, get an early glimpse of a visual marvel, and maybe give Dillon Douglasson and Tyler Scheerschmidt a well-deserved pat on the back. They’ve more than earned it with all their hard work in highlighting local music, something that people in Richmond appreciate more than they’ll ever realize.
Hourglass Sessions will unveil their 50th video on Sunday, August 27th at Godfrey’s at a special video release party that will also feature music from Trunk Show Band, Deau Eyes, Cassidy Snider, and Andrew Bonieskie. $10 suggested donations at the door and for more information, check out the show poster below.