What You Need

Music is contextual.  The first time you hear it, if you are in a relatable position at that instant in your life, it will be the ‘greatest song I have ever heard,’ but it can also be the exact opposite.  So much effort goes into the marketing of songs, albums and artists and in the end, the most important part of the equation is the uncontrollable state of mind that the fans are in when they hear it.

I say that to say this – the power of association has never been more important.  Having the right song playing at important moments in your life will forever link them to the positive emotions associated with those events/experiences.  Certain tracks remind me of the brightest days and certain tracks remind of the dark ones, for better or worse.

‘What You Need’ was the second glimpse into the twisted, dark dungeon of The Weeknd’s debut album House of Balloons (track #2 on the playlist).  At the time of this story, very little was known about the Toronto singer and the growing mystique of the man behind the cryptic anthems had everyone wondering what the hell was going on.  Around the same time the album dropped, we were headed to my video shoot for SWIVEL up in the cottage country of Muskoka, Ontario.  For my NY heads, this is the Hampton’s of Toronto.  The cottage was way north of $5MM and looked the part.  All in all, we had well over 50 people come up for a 3 day weekend full of libations, party favours and insanity.  Crashdex brought the drumset inside and we had a few indoor concerts that shook the log cabin mansion so badly that neighbours from a few kilometres away had to come check out.



After the second night, the cottage was barely recognizable.  We had plowed through a ton of kegs, bottles and fireworks and the night before saw a Day Glo party go awry with waterguns full of Grey Goose and paint.  I wokeup with a PYT on my arm and could hear music coming from down beneath the the intricate log staircase.  There were literally bodies strewn everywhere – on the stairs, inside pool blow-up toys, on the pool table (and under the pool table), face down on the kitchen counter and even a few asleep (unconscious?) on the grass outside.  As I got to the bottom of the stairs, this track was playing on loop on the sound system, barely audible and yet perfectly tuned for the vibe.



It was pouring rain outside and the carnage across the cottage was a scene I will remember for years to come.  Not only was it a memorable video shoot and party but the damage deposit I had put up was almost definitely gone.  Someone had broken up glowsticks on an antique table and the paint had melted a 1/4 inch hole into the wood.  The firepit out back had giant branches in it that had melted welts all through the wooden deck.  The kitchen looked like a bomb had exploded in it (I would never disrespect a Viking stove like that but desperate/hungry times were calling).  Someone even managed to crack open a $25 000 vintage bottle of Moet signed by Jean Paul Gaultier and shared the love (bubble count on one hundred trillion).  The scene was straight out of Project X.



As I soaked in the moment, the haunting keys and muffled drums on ‘What You Need’ kept massaging my hangover through the speakers.  The mood was a mixture of stupefied wonder, hangover symptoms, the distant aroma of herb through a thick rain and complete paralysis to fix the impending problem.   Thankfully, the Weeknd played host to the soundtrack.  To this day, the track and its cascading hook and airy vocals brings me back into that cottage, on that morning, with the wooden table melted through, the entourage face down on the pine board floors and the remnants of the wildest weekend of our lives on full display.


Don’t drink and drive.  Don’t shoot your friends with fireworks.  And don’t rent $5MM cottages for raging video shoots.  The annual May long weekend is only a few days away for us Canadians – get your Swivel on.



This entry was posted on Monday, May 12th, 2014 at 3:28 pm and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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