Magic plays big role in band’s ambitious video challenge

September 28th, 2012 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

Chris Gongora has been involved with big video projects before, such as “THEM (Totally Hidden Extreme Magic)” alongside Cyril Takayama and Justin Willman and “Room 401,” a scare-based show on MTV.

But the YouTube project he and his bandmates in Strangely Attractive have taken on is arguably more aggressive. And the connections he made in magic are helping to accomplish that ambitious goal.

By now, you’ve probably seen “Extraordinary,” the music video by the band Strangely Attractive. The video is a who’s who of magic, with cameos by Takayama, Willman, Angela Funovitz, Danny Garcia, Blake Vogt and more, as they trade a white ball from screen to screen. The video is No. 12 of a series of 52, and much more magic is coming, Gongora said.

But there is much more magic in the band. The idea to do a video a week for 52 weeks came directly from a magician, and Gongora is also a magician who was in the Magic Castle’s Junior Program and a member of the group that produced the two TV shows above.

Strangely Attractive, comprised of bassist Gongora, vocalist Jupiter Amaya and guitarist Mario Gorito, formed in 2009. The band released “Soul Control” a few months afterward and booked a solid tour of gigs around the L.A. area. As the band was working on finishing its second album, “Strangely Attractive 2.0,” Gongora was talking to Garcia about a plan to produce regular monthly videos featuring acoustic versions of the videos.

But Garcia challenged the band to raise the stakes.

“We thought that might help get some people hopefully talking about our new songs. I was telling this to Danny and he suggested that instead of just one month, we should do something really crazy and make a music video a week for an entire year. He thought that we’d be able to generate a little more buzz and also make some new fans along the way. We thought the idea was insanely crazy and awesome at the same time so we decided to do it.”

In a nutshell: The band will release a new music video every Thursday for 52 weeks. No. 13, “My Pal,” was released yesterday.

Fortunately, Gongora has some great friends. While at the Magic Castle, he, Enrico de la Vega, Danny Cole, Thomas Meier and many of the names above formed a group called Magic X, a sort of “magic gang” aimed at pushing the art of magic forward, he said.

In addition to No. 12, Cole and Lisa de la Vega have been featured in the band’s videos. Cole did his invisible chair routine for “You Don’t Know,” the first video; Lisa performed a gypsy thread routine in “Don’t Blame Me,” No. 9.

The process of shooting each video is a crazy one that involves no budget, an iPhone, iMovie and a lot of friends. That means the band relies on creativity and whatever is in reach. Enrico de la Vega helps out by shooting, and friends pitch in with either ideas or webcam videos.

Take “Extraordinary,” for instance. That video took months to make. After thinking some of his friends could film themselves on webcam, he started planning it out.

“I started mapping out the idea in my head that one object will get manipulated in a different way by each magician. So I wrote out all the different effects in magic like a vanish, a production, an anti-gravity move, etc., and began to piece it together in my head how the actual routine would go. I was also deciding what object would best work. It was between a ball, a silk, and a card. I chose a ball cause I thought it might give us more wiggle room to play with.”

Sending instructions about where the ball would come from, how much time they had and what they had to do with it, he set them loose. The magicians even came up with their own methods for manipulating the ball.

Gongora said that magic usually figures into his video ideas, and there will be much more coming — at least once a month. And though there are some big plans coming, including a video featuring Takayama, Gongora is open to more magical ideas.

“Of course there will be future videos that feature solo performances from other Xers, such as Rico, Justin Willman, and Joel Ward. We will also be premiering a Cyril featured video next month. As a matter of fact, if there are any magicians that want to be a part of what we are doing, we are most definitely open to hearing any and all ideas.”

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