From a city known for film projects, a Toronto musician is enjoying the benefits of his trips to Windsor.
Playing music all his life, 27-year-old Gavin Slate has gained a local following through some unconventional methods. Although he’s never played a concert in the city, his fanbase continues to grow in the area. So how did he do it?
It’s safe to say his partnership with a Windsor film-maker is a good start.
“Gavin Booth saw my name on the bill of a show I was opening and he was planning on attending,” said Slate. “Intrigued by the first name, he ended up checking out my tunes online and immediately got in touch with me about working on something together.”
Growing up in a home with three sisters where music was supported, Slate and his family often sang songs by artists like The Beach Boys, Tom Petty, Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers. . Having taken a few lessons beforehand, he taught himself how to play guitar at ten to perform the songs he wanted.
Sharing a similar passion for his own craft, Slate was blown away by Booth’s demo reel. He quickly got in touch and met up with the director to talk about working together. With no major label contract, manager or usual music business-types, the two were allowed to roam free creatively: They also bonded on a personal level, being at similar places in their respective careers.
Before long Slate was in Windsor with Booth for the first time, filming a video for Falling.
“Falling is the first video we ever shot,” he said. “The aim was to have a visually encompassing video that focused more on the artist and performance. [Booth]came up with the concept of having me getting kicked out of my girlfriend’s house and having her throw all my things on the front lawn.”
Filming the video in Windsor left a lasting impression on the musician. While initially agreeing to come to the city because of Booth’s company and crew, Slate was impressed by their work. Considering them to be the most professional people he’s collaborated with, his partnership with the director continues to thrive. Of course, avoiding a lot of red tape helps too.
Admitting Toronto has many cool places to shoot, Slate notes that more rules and regulations are strictly enforced there. This requires more planning and a higher cost to produce any video – something many independent artists can’t afford. In addition to this, Filming in Windsor also provides a lesser-known benefit.
“Being the biggest city in Canada, videos that are shot in Toronto can often be distinguished too easily as well,” said Slate. “In Windsor you won’t have a TTC car in the background or a shot of the CN Tower. It helps to give the video a little more anonymity, which ultimately allows more people to relate to it.”
Continuing his relationship with Booth and Windsor, Slate’s latest video was shot in the city. Goodnight Lovers, Goodnight Thieves, featuring a concept the director spontaneously came up with over the phone, follows a couple’s relationship from a single-camera shot at the head of their bed. It was an idea they felt people could really connect with.
“What I really liked about this concept is the fact that it’s something really simple that basically everyone can relate to in one way or another,” said Slate. “We’ve all been through the rollercoaster ride of a relationship. I think seeing it on film often helps others realize that this stuff happens to all of us.”
The Windsor connection doesn’t end there either. Booth has already shot a video in the area for Stranger In The Dark, a dark and stripped-down song by Slate they tried to mirror visually. Details are being worked on but the video was filmed the same day they came up with a concept – a lot of it was improvised. Slate felt it was an interesting way to work and is proud that, along with his other videos, it was shot independently and paid for out-of-pocket.
“There’s really no smoke and mirrors behind any of this and there never has been in my career as an artist,” he said. “What you see is what you get. I also hope that people can appreciate the amount of work that had to go into these videos. It’s really incredible how small of a crew we had to make these come to life. I think it’s also really important for other artists to know that you don’t have to be signed to a big record label anymore to shoot a good music video, you just need a concept, a camera and some incredibly passionate people.”
Not stopping there, Slate is making cameos in Booth’s new videos for Beth Moore, released today and Robyn Dell’Unto’s Behave. He’s also working on music for the film director’s upcoming feature and hopes to play a concert in Windsor soon. Whether it be in December or the new year, the musician is looking forward to revisiting the city that’s helped his career so much.
“Windsor has been an incredible city to me,” said Slate. “Some of the nicest, most talented people I have ever met live here. It really is incredible to me how enthusiastic everyone is about supporting Gavin and his projects. It’s a characteristic you just don’t find in every city, you guys truly have something special here and I’m so fortunate to have become a part of it.”