Exclusive: Watch Mechanical River's Creative 'Pomelos' Video

Mechanical River Cover Art
Courtesy Photo

Mechanical River Cover Art

Charleston-based Mechanical River is a prodigy in every sense. Not only does he play every instrument on his debut single, the lo-fi folksy "Pomelos," but he also recorded and produced the track himself. The single was mixed at Electric Lady Studios by Ben Baptie (Beck, The Strokes) and completed by famed mastering engineer Tom Coyne (Adele, Taylor Swift).

The one-man band has shared the stage with artists including Daniel Johnston, Counting Crows, and most recently, Rufus Wainwright -- all of whom have informed and inspired his musical endeavors and palate. Between projects, Mechanical River also toured as a backing musician, playing bass, saxophone, banjo, keys, and even a cigar box guitar -- a sound prominently featured on "Pomelos."

Billboard is debuting his new music video, directed by Emmy Award-winner Brandon Ward, founder of the video production company The Frame Theory. To celebrate the release, we talked to both Mechanical River and Ward about the collaboration. Mechanical River also provided a video of his performance at Electric Lady Studios, which you can check out after the Q&A.

How would you explain “Pomelos”?

Mechanical River: This song was my attempt to articulate with sound the places in my mind I'd been spending a lot of time in while physically traveling alone for a few weeks -- via foot and train, busking on a cigar box guitar and living out of a guitar-shaped backpack. I met a really nice fellow in Irun, Spain, after stepping off the train from Paris at midnight who took me to the coast the next morning with his climbing friends. I brought one item as a snack for later and unfortunately what I thought was an orange turned out to be a pomelo. I was having a lot of these 'when life gives you a pomelo' moments in this period of time and I was doing my best to make 'ade'. 
The song has a cool, lo-fi folksy vibe to it. What inspired your sound?

MR: I don't really have a good short answer in terms of sound inspiration -- but, I definitely wasn't thinking I wanted this song to sound like this or that. I was spending a lot of time writing and performing and experimenting with some Casio keyboards I had acquired when I began putting this song down to tape. And, the cigar box has a pretty specific sound that helps identify another big piece of the sonic puzzle I think. 
This is your first music video. What was the inspiration for the collage?

MR: My good friend, Rebecca Harrelson, made the collage that now lives on a wall in my house. We're releasing the single as a vinyl 7" on Electric Lady Records and I wanted to use it as the cover for the release. We were going to use the static cover image and let the song play over it with no motion, but then we started playing with the idea of small movements and the classic bouncy-ball, sing-a-long effect. We were introduced to the guys at Frame Theory and they were patient enough to visually articulate every little spin and motion we asked them for. It was a fantastic and fun experience. 

Brandon, can you tell me about how this collaboration happened?

Brandon Ward: I was really drawn to this project because of the unique nature and honesty of Mechanical River's sound. When I saw the existing artwork, which felt very hand-made & analog, I was excited for the challenge of bringing it to life digitally. I really wanted to make sure that myself and our team at The Frame Theory did visual justice to both the song and the artwork, and I feel that we did. I'm almost positive we got all the lyrics right.


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