Vertigo, January 18 2016
Vertigo’s 4th Anniversary
By December 2015, Gus was on a roll releasing music. He had released Lil Peep Part One, Feelz, Live Forever, and several singles, including Star Shopping, the summer before.
After Christmas, Gus worked with a budding, local, Long Island director named Jon Francois—who goes by the name of Legacy—to make videos for two of the tracks that he decided to release on a four-track EP called Vertigo. All four of those tracks were produced by John Mello (and one was co-produced with Hector Vae).
Jon and Gus met online—the way Gus met most of his collaborators. I spoke with Jon, Emma, Ian and Angelo who were involved in the creation of these two videos to learn more about the making of these videos.
Jon had seen Gus's Live Forever video "teaser" on JGrxxn’s Instagram page. He was impressed by Gus’s video as well as by Gus's music, and contacted Gus on SoundCloud. Gus messaged him back. They made plans to work w Jon to make a music video.
By this time, mid-December, 2015, Gus had decided he wanted to make as many videos to go with his songs as he reasonably could. He and Emma had made a couple of videos (Nothing to U, Songs You Hear on a Sinking Ship, Live Forever) and he had shot a bunch of footage with his friend Will to make videos with during the summer.
Gus had been working with producer John Mello to make the four tracks Drugz, Shiver, M.O.S. Battery Full, and Come Around. He and Emma shot the footage for Drugz, and he sent that to his friend, Lil Skil to edit. When Skil finally sent back the finished video, with all of the crazy animation, Gus was thrilled.
MOS Battery Full
When Jon and Gus made plans to work together to shoot their first video--on Long Island--Gus needed a ride to the location because Gus didn't drive, or have a car. So he asked his friend Ian for a ride. Angelo, home for winter break from Binghamton, was hanging out at Gus's and came along for the ride. It turned out they would both be cast in the M.O.S. Battery Full video.
There was no plan for the guys to be in the video. But when Gus showed up at the Walt Whitman Mall with Angelo and Ian, Jon became inspired--and he spontaneously placed both of them in the video. Jon took Gus and his friends to several different spots on Long Island to shoot including the Target parking lot on Jericho Turnpike on Route 25 in Huntington. (The amazing back wall of the parking lot had just been built).
They drove to several different locations--including Manor Farm, Five Towns College, and Mt. Misery. They wrapped up at the parking lot of the brand-new Target on Jericho Turnpike in Huntington.
Ian remembered thinking that he would not have been wearing his sweatpants had he known he would be in a music video.
According to Jon, Gus was nervous at first. Right before they began shooting, Gus expressed his nervousness, saying "I’ve never done this before, I don’t know if I can do this."
At this point, Jon reassured Gus, saying that he would be able to edit the film to make it look great. Jon was able to calm Gus down. So Gus went ahead and began. Once he began, Jon reports, Gus was "all in."
Angelo told me how the white coat in the video was really his—it was a brand new Christmas present. Gus had convinced Angelo to let him wear the new white coat, and then had placed it on the ground, for effect, in the video. Angelo was pissed.
The ALIS hat was a Christmas present Oskar had given to Gus.
After M.O.S. Battery Full was done, Gus and Jon came together again to shoot Come Around (on January 12.) This time, Gus brought Emma (she drove them). They met at a little motel right near the White Castle on Jericho Turnpike.
Emma and Gus were late because the car Emma had borrowed to get them there kept doing weird things every time they tried to drive fast. According to Jon, Gus was more confident this second time around.
Emma told me that at first, Jon had another girl cast for the video, but Gus texted him saying “I would be way more comfortable having my girlfriend.” He was very nervous about working with a “random girl.”
Reflecting on the experience, Emma told me that she had to pay for the hotel room with her mom’s credit card because Gus didn’t have any money. At first Emma didn’t want to go on the bed because she thought it was gross. After a while, she relaxed and even took a selfie.
If you think there are drugs in this video you are mistaken. Emma said “The fake drugs were evaporated milk and it tasted like you were snorting Smartfood popcorn, it tasted gross!“ They made blood out of corn syrup and red food dye they had bought at the Target where Jon had shot MOS Battery full. Emma is pretty sure she charged those groceries on her mom’s credit card, too.
When Jon took Emma and Gus to an abandoned house to shoot one of the scenes, Emma suggested they shoot on the roof. She climbed up first, and then helped Gus up. He was terrified of heights. What Emma didn’t tell him was that there were several holes in the roof. He was scared and never really stood up in that scene.
For Come Around, though, Gus had his own ideas and had a vision of what he wanted. First of all, he knew he wanted to have Emma in the video. Also, he had a reference in mind--of a Ricky Hil video called Dealer Man “This is kind of what I want. This is going to have a lot of meaning.” He said. “Gus was really into Ricky Hil at that time,” said Emma. She remembered Gus showing her the video Dealer Man. Come Around was a combination of Gus's idea of the Ricky Hil visual inspiration and Jon's visual inspiration of the film (2000) Requiem for a Dream.
Right before Gus and Emma left for the Commack Inn, they were at home, and Emma was trying to stretch out the OG Skeleton shirt for the video shoot. She wanted to wear it as a dress, and she had her feet on it, pulling it to stretch it out. Unfortunately, the whole shirt ripped right off her--so Gus had to give her a new one.
Emma on Shooting the footage for Drugz.
Emma and Gus shot the footage in Cambridge Massachusetts when we were all up there visiting Gus’s grandparents (my parents) at Christmas. We were staying at my father’s house, and Gus and Emma went out in the middle of the night, after the rest of us were asleep, to the neighborhood park/playground.
Emma shot a bunch of stills as well as some video footage. They were really just noodling around in the playground. Emma was taking a photography class and she brought her camera around everywhere she went.
They weren’t planning on making a video, but Gus liked the Christmas lights (he had Christmas lights strung up in his bedroom, and in our garage) and he liked the way they looked blurry. Emma told him she couldn’t shoot him clearly because it was so dark and therefore very blurry. But the lights were so bright, and blurry and Gus liked that. He thought it looked “sick.” So, in the end, the footage was not really intended for anything in particular while they were making it. it was just Emma and Gus playing around. But, because Gus was playing the song Drugz on his phone while they were shooting the video, and because Gus thought the footage looked kind of “trippy” with all of the bright and blurry lights, he decided it would work perfectly to make a great video for the track Drugz.
Today is the fourth anniversary of the release date of Vertigo. Gus released it on SoundCloud on January 18, 2016.
He met some good people in the process of making this EP and its accompanying videos.