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Inside Pink Hawks' Wild Music Video Shoot: A Celebration of Denver

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The impact of MTV's work — back when it was an actual channel for music — continues to endure for musicians as they create visual accompaniments to their songs. Sure, YouTube is alive and well today and there were many other ways music was paired with visual art prior to the advent of cable, but there was something about the mid-'90s golden age of music videos that captured the attention of an entire generation. For local afro-beat funksters Pink Hawks, the magic of the music video can be found in its use of the medium to display the cultures and personalities that make up this diverse world music group. 

Earlier this month, the band took over the Wagon Wheel Skate Center in Brighton for a full-on professional production of "Taste Your Medicine" (a live version of the song can be heard here) bringing the Pink Hawks signature wild style in front of the camera. Enlisting local cinematographer Austin Shelton — the man behind the camera for Safe Boating is No Accident's recent video "Dye My Love" — and his crew and director Leighton Peterson, producer Simone Groene-Nieto orchestrated the vision from start to finish.
The video — which moves from a roller disco scene with Pink Hawks at the center of this charming old school skate floor to a crazy blacklight dance party in the space as it transforms — was curated by Groene-Nieto, who made sure everything from the location to the expertly applied face and body paint were just right. Oh, and everything and everyone involved in the production was local, utilizing the people and resources of the larger creative community Pink Hawks is a part of. "We had a budget and we were really intent on having all of our money stay completely local — and it worked out," Says Groene-Nieto of the shoot.

Originally, the idea was to rent out the Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs and take advantage of the spot's kitschy jungle-like feel. Logistically it was almost impossible, so the crew set out to find a new spot and the Wagon Wheel had a great mix of vintage and small town appeal. The band was also set on filling the filmed dance party with movers and shakers in Denver, so invitations were sent out to a select group of musician friends, fashion designers, actors, comedians and other creative players in the city to be a part of the shindig. "I wanted the look, energy and presence of recognizable faces in the video," says Groene-Nieto. Those folks were then done up in apparel loaned for the shoot by Buffalo Exchange and make-up was done by well-known Denver make-up artist Lillian Marsh. Every step in the process was local — even Fashion Denver founder Brandi Shigley (who stars in the video as well) offered her place as a space where the cast could prep for the long evening of shooting.
Conceptually, the premise of "Taste Your Medicine" is to visually showcase the band's distinctive sound and role as one of the city's premiere afro-beat bands. "Pink Hawks feels really strongly that they are a Denver-based band and there isn't a lot of truly authentic world music happening in here," says the producer. "They are one of a handful of bands and they wanted to really mark this as a world music piece featuring creative Denver people."

The video is set to be released some time at the end of this summer, to coincide with the band's next album release on local label Snappy Little Numbers. For newcomers to Pink Hawks, "Taste Your Medicine" is an excellent introduction to the group on many levels. It's accessible, rhythm-driven sounds and the fun captured in choreographed dance scenes at the skating rink show off what Pink Hawks is all about — a world party where everyone is invited.

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