Why DC Musicians and Fans Should Watch thecrossover.tv

thecrossover.tv

Here at DC Music Review, we like to shine a spotlight not only on musicians, but all of the creative artists who are an integral part of the DC music community. If you are a musician in this community or a fan of the DMV scene, you might want to pay attention to what's happening with thecrossover.tv

What is thecrossover.tv?

It's the passion project of Avik Ray (director, cameras, editing and post production), Rich Russman (audio), and Chris Whitmore (cameras), who are using their audio/visual prowess and love of music to showcase some of the best and brightest musicians in DC through video.

This trio believes in the DC music community. With musicians' needs in mind, they are creating extremely high quality content that conveys what happens in that ineffable intersection when artists collaborate.

It's called thecrossover.tv because it is about a) that magic that happens when two exceptional, passionate musicians/bands come together or "crossover" and, b) trying to capture that exquisite moment on video and share it over YouTube.

The channel started in the summer of 2018 and to date, they have created five "episodes" (each with 3-4 videos) working with DMV-based artists like The Virginia Southpaws, Olivia and the Mates, Deja Belle, Lauren Calve Band, Jonny Grave, Black Dog Prowl, Maryjo Mattea, Stone Driver, Neenah Gee, and their latest crossover of the soulful artists Sol Roots and The Eric Scott Trio. They have a long list of other DC artists they would love to "cross together" and are always keeping their ears open for more names to make sure they are canvassing the entire scene. 

thecrossover.tv

thecrossover.tv

thecrossover.tv

thecrossover.tv

While I have been involved with the DC music scene in many capacities for some years now, I hadn't heard about thecrossover.tv until recently when I had the opportunity to work with them on a shoot. It was an incredibly gratifying experience and afterward, I needed to know more. 

I met up with Avik, Rich, and Chris in Mount Pleasant over coffee and pastries for a lovely interview. We had about an hour. We took about two. They had a lot of passion to share and we all expressed our mutual love for this city. Here's what I learned.


Nina Goodman: Hi guys, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. It's great to see you all again!

thecrossover.tv: It's great to see you too, thanks for reconnecting with us!

NG: It's a pleasure! So first off, what are your goals for this project?

Avik: We are taking a calculated bet that the world wants to hear music coming out of the DC/DMV scene and we want to create a successful YouTube channel. Not to use any clichés about bringing people together through music but that is exactly what we are trying to do.


NG: Talk to me about what’s in it for the bands? And what does thecrossover.tv get out of it?

Avik: At a minimum, the bands will get quality content they can use. They come in, perform and we work together as a team for that afternoon. As a result, they get a ton of media assets that they can use across a number of different platforms to help get the word out, including three videos that will feature on the channel which they can then embed on their website and share with their fans across social media or with venues. We also provide the bands with the mixed audio from the live recording session for their own use. Above all, we hope it’s a great experience and they have a good time recording their songs.

For us, we get to use our skills to be a part of this magic.  And as the channel grows, the subscriber base grows and more and more people find out about new music that is being produced in the DMV across a variety of genres. 


NG: Tell me a bit about the backstory of thecrossover.tv? How did you come up with this concept.

Avik: The earliest inspiration for this is my brother. He’s an incredible guitarist and used to run an open house music session back in London. It was phenomenal, we used to hear great bands play their own material live and people used to come together and jam together on covers, often with people they had never met before. There was a rawness and energy about that experience that I just loved.

When I moved to DC many years later as a filmmaker, I met Rich and I shot a video for his band, The Virginia Southpaws. Rich had a keen interest in videos himself and we stayed in touch and he would ping me questions on technical questions and set ups and I in turn would ask for his help with audio on my video projects.

In addition to being a superb musician, I could see he was a great technician. We got talking about what we could do together and how we might record live music performances with great audio and high production values, but that was different than all the other millions of YouTube channels out there. We came up with the idea of bringing two artists or bands together for a cover and then each performing their own song. Chris brought his talent as an expert filmmaker and we had the trifecta.


NG: One question people will want to know is how do you pay for this? Talk to me about how thecrossover.tv is funded. 

Avik: Charging bands does not feel like the right model for me. We do ask them to cover the cost of the venue but that's pretty much it. The production crew are all volunteers right now but we believe in the vision and we want to scale this massively. If we build something that artists find useful and people enjoy watching the content, we are at least on the right path.  Our primary focus right now, is growing the audience, measured as subscribers to our YouTube channel. At present, we are self funded, we are exploring a number of different avenues for future productions.

Chris: Also there's a sense that any of the money that we recoup in the future would be put into the foundation of the whole system. I imagine there may be some unforeseen challenges for us as we grow and we will need a foundation to stand on. We want to create is a system where any kind of band — young bands, old bands, new bands — can take part in this without having to deal with the money issue. 

Avik:  We need it to be easy for bands to say yes and that's something I want to hammer home. Everyone is busy these days. When bands come to us after a shoot they have told us it was easy to work with us and that is really important. They come in, everything is already booked and set up, they just have to show up ready to go and do their best performance. And I realize that's a big ask of bands but that's it.  We take care of the rest. And so far, bands have told us they have gotten a lot out of the experience, much more than they were expecting. 


NG: Rich, you have experienced both sides of the process, both as a performer with The Virginia Southpaws in the first thecrossover.tv series, and now as the sound engineer. What was it like for you being on the performer side?

Rich: It was a lot of fun and it kind of tested our musicianship to be prepared not only for our own song, but for the collaboration piece. You come in knowing you're going to be on video playing this song you haven't necessarily performed before and with new players who you admire. We were all very much in it because we wanted to make it sound good. 

Avik: And Rich's band was one of my favorite experiences. A lot of bands know each other, but when Olivia Mancini from Olivia & the Mates came on and did a crossover with The Virginia Southpaws, they didn't really know each other. I love the fact that before the take they called each other up, rehearsed, and came together to create a really great rendition of a popular song.

NG: One thing that is very special about the DC music scene right now is the support given to one another. There is connection happening all over the place, I see it at the jams especially. There is a lot of amazing footage of these jams that is such a gift to the community. What you are doing here is a little different.

Avik: For sure, this is a different beast, it is not the same as a live recording. We treat it like a live show, but we can afford to take more risks because we have a few takes. When you film live you don't want to screw up, you have one chance and you don't take as many risks in terms of type of shots you take.

Chris: There is a bit of electricity in the air when bands show up. It feels different than shooting a show or making a music video.  No one knows what's going to happen. We as listeners don't know the nuances of the song, we need to learn it in the moment. And the band has to adjust to having us there and working with another artist in this small space. We are all in it together. and it's super fun. 

Avik: And you'll notice when we do a take we may say something like, "it was really great when you did that thing you did with your foot at the end of the phrase." It's not engineered but it's directed, we want to make people come out the best that they can so the band is happy. That's our measure of our success. Bands are proud of what they've done with us and want to share it. 


NG: I also love that you chose to film at 7DrumCity, it speaks volumes. First off, it looks cool. And what the owner Miles Ryan and the team are doing there for the music community, through lessons, rehearsal space, and linking musicians together is wonderful. It's another one of those gemstones in the DC music community.   

Avik:  Mike from The Virginia Southpaws suggested we film at 7DrumCity so we filmed the first episode there. This was one of the things we got right, the people were super cool and Rich knew Isabelle De Leon (drummer extraordinaire and instructor at 7DC) through her father, so we had a really interesting conversation with her about the idea. She also performed in the Lauren Calve Band video.

The people at 7DrumCity are so easy to work with.  I like the vibe there and we're doing a similar thing in terms of being connected to and supporting the scene.

I also like the small space we have filmed in because you are physically close to people and you can get interesting shots. I remember when Black Dog Prowl, a really loud hard rock band, came for the shoot in this small room, they performed like they were doing a full on show and there was only an audience of three people. And I loved that, we all really enjoyed that. They were super performers. 

NG: I feel like you take this very seriously and what you do is an art form. Tell me more about that. 

Rich: We are digesting video content on the internet all the time, I ask how will this look in the grander picture with all the other content out there. What you said about the realness of this, how we're creating the experience and elevating it, that's hopefully true, but so you can feel this electric moment. I bring this up because we are all coordinated on that sensibility. We're not over doing something or trying to create a special little gemstone, we're thinking about the musicians when we do this, showing the realness.

Avik: And you mention art form, and I take great pride in what we do, I know Rich takes pride in audio, Chris taking shots, and I'm always thinking about the edit while we're filming.  In that room you're really trying to find those perfect shots, perfect angles, we try to create the best possible visual experience, the timing, edits, shots, movement, all of that. And I love the feeling of getting that right, catching a facial detail, catching those electric moments, that's what it's about. 

N: For me, from the moment I walked in for the video shoot, I sensed the chemistry and mutual respect between you three and it made me trust in the process. You made it clear with your body language, you were very open and communicative. I could tell immediately you knew what you were doing and you cared deeply about what was going to happen in the video shoot. 

Avik: It's a very intimate experience being on camera, I'm happy to be on the other side of it, (laugh), but you do have to build that trust with people and know you are out there to make it look and sound as good as they possibly can. I feel incredibly grateful that I met Rich and Chris and that we have this team. And the productions get better and better each time. 

Rich: Yeah, you know that feeling when there's a chasm there? With this, and working with each other, there has been none of that. It's very real. And there's energy in the room as well. The band doesn't want to let the crew down and the crew doesn't want to let the band down.

Chris: To add to that, the first time I met Rich and Avik, we all fell in line with that type of ideology of trust. It's so nice to know, like you're saying, that it's supporting the creative process. It takes experienced people to get that chemistry and trust right, and I feel it when we work together. 


NG: How long does it take to do one set of three video shoots?

Crossover.tv shooting a band video

The production of a music video.

Avik: What takes the most time is honestly finding the times to get everyone together. The actual production side is one afternoon of filming. Rich will spend two hours to do audio, I can edit video in three hours which comes with a lot of experience doing this kind of thing. We've set things up for each other so as a team we can move quickly and efficiently. 

Chris: It's amazing how getting people together takes the most time. The first step in the funnel is when we ask, "can you make time for this?" It all starts there.

Crossover.tv shooting a band video

The production of a "thecrossover.tv" video.

Avik: And we are grateful for the time the bands give. The fact that people are taking time to do this, it's an indication of the type of artist who is drawn to this. We hope the experience is worth them coming out for an afternoon.


NG: What you're creating, it's got this intentionality of capturing a kinetic moment. And you are coming at it with love. 

To me, it's emblematic of what's happening in the scene. It's what makes this city so special, no matter what pocket it's in: jams, jazz, indie, hip hop, Go-go, you name it. I see connections blending all over the place. 

Speaking of which, talk to me about diversity, who you bring together for the shoot. Do you choose the bands or do they say who they want to work with?

Avik: Our vision is that we can bring in any two bands from any two genres and do something unique. We have them perform their own work and do a cover together because logistically and timing-wise, it's easier to do it that way. For the cover, we want them to own it, deconstruct the song and reinvent it and make it relevant to their audiences. And I think that's been very powerful in terms of the content that comes out of the show. Like Olivia and The Virginia Southpaws totally reinvented a popular song and I really like what came from that.

Chris: The opportunities are pretty deep, in some cases we talked about how diverse the music scene is here in DC, it means we have a lot of options.

Avik: In terms of finding bands, there's a lot of word of mouth. We'd like to have lots of different people proposing bands. The only issue is to make sure we don't end up working in an echo chamber. We want to expand genres more and mix them up together, and would love our channel to be one of the places where that happens. And yes, there is a curation process, we will have a limit because for now it's just three of us so we may have to say no. But we are trying to do as much as we can with the people who want to be there. 


NG: I'll be honest, I hadn't heard of your until I came to a shoot, and you've worked with some really amazing DC artists. How are you getting the word out about what you're doing? 

Avik: We are not so great at self-promotion on social media, we lean on the bands who come on our show for a lot of that. We want it to happen more organically.

Yes, we want success but that comes from people watching the videos and learning about these musicians and our scene. Views are our currency right now. The more views we have, the more subscribers we have, the closer we have to this becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy of becoming a platform to promote new music from the DMV to music lovers around the world.

Plus, there are organizations like yours, DC Music Review, and radio stations and other sites focused on the scene that are distributing content, we would love to partner with them. 


NG: Hopefully it's the type of thing where you people get word and see your work and want to be a part of it. 

Avik:  Exactly. I want this to grow through conversations like this.

What I love is the purity that we've built around this and I don't want to distract from that. Like you mentioned, I consider it to be an art form. I think it will take off. I just believe it. I want to create something I am proud of and that other people appreciate. The musicians are the subject matter expert. Our end product is about all the passion, complete freedom with creativity, and as a group, we don't want to pollute that.

Everyone who is involved is part of the success of this thing. It's not about keeping this to ourselves, it's about sharing and appreciating the beauty of something, that is success. Everyone who comes on to film, helps out, has our gratitude. 

NG: That's the stuff right there.  

Chris: We know how the system works already from our professional experiences. We really want this to be authentic. 


NG: What can the DC music community do to help?

Avik: The first thing to do is to subscribe to the thecrossover.tv YouTube channel.

For artists interested in performing, subscribing is the first hurdle to cross for coming on the show. Once they have done that they could contact us at crossovertvglobal@gmail.com with some examples of music and we’ll check it out. If we can make it happen, we will suggest another band or artist for them to cross over with.


NG: Well hopefully you can handle what might be coming your way. There are so many exceptional musicians in this city and you shining a light on the magic that comes when they create art together is a gift.

Avik: Thank you so much.

NG: Before we go I have to say, it was an immense pleasure working with you on the shoot and connecting with you for this interview. You are consummate professionals and clearly love what you do. I'm really grateful to get to know you better!

thecrossover.tv: Thank you so much for connecting with us and what you are doing for the music scene. We are all in this together!


And there you have it. This truly hidden gem that seems ready to shine brighter.

thecrossover.tv work is stellar, check out the videos and you'll see the care and the quality. But why will they succeed? I think it's because the fantastic people behind the cameras are truly about the music, this city, and the magic that happens when artists come together to create. And to me, that's what our beloved DC music scene is all about. 

Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Additional

Resources


To learn more about thecrossover.tv, please visit the following resources:

About the author
Nina Goodman

Nina Goodman

Nina Goodman is a music lover, dancer, artist, keyboardist, and an avid ukulele player. You may even see her up on stage performing with local DC bands. Above all, Nina is a fierce supporter of the Washington DC local music scene. Nina's talents are mostly behind the scenes where she maintains and curates our event calendar and conducts interviews with local artists. If there is music playing in the DMV, you can expect to see her attending or at least making sure that our audience knows about it.