Q&A —VCO Smashes Down the Door with New Video for Single “Born in the Snow”

On Friday, February 2nd Denver local indie-rockers VCO are releasing their new music video for their recently released single, “Born in the Snow.” Mixed by Grammy award winner Darrell Thorp, the track has a classic 80s sound and a hook that burrows its way into your brain, relying on warm synths drowned in watery reverb to build tension before breaking into a cool groove. It’s simultaneously dark and dancey with catchy synth flourishes and crisp drums pushing the pace.

The band has moved beyond pure auditory expression into visual media. A parody of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, the video is as frenetic and urgent as the song is. It removes any fear of becoming dull as the amount of work that went into the video is evident but watching it feels like playing. 

303 Magazine recently spoke with VCO about the new single, its grandiose music video, their headlining show at Lost Lake celebrating the video release and more.

READ: Q&A — Sour Magic Is on the Rise With New Single “Elevator” 

303 Magazine: The video’s gorgeous and really funny. It’s hard to achieve the comedic vibe but with some great performances and truly cinematic shots, you pull it off. What went into
making this video happen?

VCO: We decided early on that it would be a parody of The Shining. Finding a crew that was capable of
pulling it off and finding the locations that would make it possible was the hard part.

We all chipped in with building set pieces, costuming, and dialing in the script. During the tight two-
day shoot, the whole crew worked to exhaustion to get all the shots. It was the hardest
thing we’ve ever done creatively. But the main driving force was Russ (Brozovich, guitar and vox) keeping everything moving and coordinated, really like a producer. He lined up venues, sets, materials,
and production crew all in advance. He even found an adult-sized tricycle for Colin (Hill, drummer). He put in an insane number of hours making sure everything went smoothly and spearheaded the entire
project.

303: I hear the 80s inspiration in the song and see the correlation of the name but what made
you go for The Shining? How many times did you watch it to recreate it so well?

VCO: The song is told from the point of view of someone dealing with a domestic abuser, so it has
similar thematic elements to The Shining. The evocative nature of the film felt like a great way
to convey some of those themes. We also needed to make it a parody for obvious reasons. We
don’t take ourselves so seriously either, so we turned it on its head a bit with some more
comedic elements.

We’re all fans of well-made movies, especially horror, so we had already seen The Shining several times beforehand. In preparation, we watched it several more times, with particular attention paid to aesthetics and which scenes feel most iconic.

303: One of my favorite bits was the guitar as the axe during the guitar solo. Were there any other bits that didn’t make the cut?

VCO: As with taking on any project this involved, some ideas had to be adapted or shrunk down, but very few had to be abandoned. We feel that none of our creative ideas were sacrificed. For instance, we wanted to film in a real hedge maze, but those are hard to come by in our area. So, we ended up building our own by hand.

That said, there is one iconic shot that we wanted and was just too impractical to film. So we
improvised. You may find that as a “post-credit” scene once we release the final version of the
video later in the month.

303: The Highlands Ranch mansion is a locally known underground spot. What made you want to film there? Were the interior shots filmed there as well?

VCO: All the shots were done at the mansion, except for the hedge maze scene, which we built and shot in a black box theatre. Russ had his wedding at the mansion and was comfortable working with them already. Once he showed us some photos of the interior, the strange bathrooms, the long hallways, and the gorgeous architecture, we knew this had to be the place. It was pretty much ready to film with very little modification.

Strangely, it looks more like the Overlook Hotel from the film than the Stanley Hotel does. We were extremely fortunate they allowed us to rent it out and they were very easy to work with.

303: How did you decide on who got what role?

VCO: That’s a good question. It could be based on roles we take as bandmates, like Russ being the “Dad” of the band. It could be the height difference.

When you see how everyone took on their characters in the video, we can’t imagine it being any other way. We just kind of knew.

303: I know there’s a show on 2/2 to celebrate the video release. Will we see these characters brought to life?

VCO: It’s not the plan right now, but we may be sporting some elements from the video. Ziggy, our mannequin/mascot, who has a big role in the video, will definitely be there.

303: The song sounds super clean and I know working with Darrel Thorp had to be great. How did that end up happening and what are some things you learned from that experience?

VCO: Darrell Thorp is a production god and has something like 11 Grammys. We were blown away that he was available and willing to work with us. We really loved the sound of Deep Sea Diver’s last album, Impossible Weight, and after looking into Darrell, we found he had worked on that album and with a lot of our heroes like Radiohead.

We reached out directly. He enjoyed what he heard and helped us finish the song with an amazing mix. Through Darrell, we met our mastering engineer Raelynn Janicke of Infrasonic Sound in Nashville. She did an amazing job. We learned a lot from this experience — how people who are masters of their craft can help elevate your art. But the biggest lesson was this: if there’s someone you want to work with, sometimes all you have to do is ask.

303: The track has some of those classic 80s sounds but feels super fresh. When creating this track, what are you all taking inspiration from? Bands, movies, books, art?

VCO: This track in particular, we were referencing a lot sonically from Radiohead and Deep Sea Diver during production but also soundtracks from movies like Drive, It Follows, Blade Runner, etc.

The track has momentum, but it’s dark and brooding. The kind of outrun/retrowave aesthetic is there in this track but is also present in our other tracks like “Radio.”

303: With the song, video, and show, the whole project seems super ambitious. What goes into bringing all those things together to make sure these things go smoothly?

VCO: Good communication and lots of work. We are fortunate to have a team between the three of us that offers a large range of complementary skills. We are collaborators who ultimately want to make the best thing that we possibly can and we are very proud of what that has yielded so far.

303: Finally, is there anything else you want to plug or anyone you’d like to shout out?

VCO: We want to shout out Juli Williams, Ty Smith, Tianna Graves, Hannah Burch, B Trede,
Cheddar, and all our crew for making the music video come to life.

We also want to shout out Sour Magic, Shady Oaks, and the good people at Lost Lake for working so well with us to make the premier show a reality. We want everyone to check out Mean World Records, who are doing good things in the local scene for independent artists and venues.

Finally, VCO has begun working on our first full-length album. This will be the biggest thing we’ve done yet and we can’t wait to share it with you. We love you all!

Keep your eyes out for the video release, stream “Born in the Snow,” and get tickets to the Lost Lake show here!