Brian Deer

Disclaimer: Brian Deer plays the guitar, not the keytar. But why let the truth get in the way of a great headline?

In my experience, ad agency people often do their most interesting work outside of the office. Well Done is home to moonlighting authors, musicians, brewers, and sailors. And the great thing about working at an ad agency is that, if you’re lucky, you occasionally get the privilege of helping one of these creative folks bring their passion project to life. This happened to me recently when Brian Deer, our Director of Technology, asked Amy McAdams-Gonzales and me to help him create materials to promote his new EP.

A crack guitarist and a superbly talented songwriter, Brian was one of the leading members of the well-regarded alt-country outfit Citizens Band back in the day. In more recent years, he’s made a name for himself around Indy as both a solo artist and the lead singer and guitarist for the raucous throwback rock group the Midtown Mad Men.

Until recently, Brian’s solo work had taken a back seat to his work with the Mad Men, his professional obligations, and various other projects. But inspiration struck in early 2015, prompting him to start work on what would become his first solo release in seven years. The result: a shimmering, mostly acoustic five-song EP that’s entirely different from anything Brian has put out before. He called the EP The Right Direction because that’s how he felt about the quality of his writing on the project, and I couldn’t agree more. This is a piece of music that deserves to be heard, and Amy and I were thrilled to contribute to the cause.

Amy and I had a lot of conversations about how to approach artwork for the EP, initially rejecting the idea of using deer imagery because it seemed too obvious. But the more we listened to it, the more we warmed to the idea. There are no production tricks or gimmicky guitar tones on these songs; they’re stripped down, campfire friendly, and intensely personal. It sounds odd to say that they sound more like a product of nature than a basement studio, but I swear it’s true. Brian, much to our relief, agreed with our rationale and embraced the “deer” approach with appreciative enthusiasm.

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Next, Brian and I set about coming up with ideas for music videos. I suggested searching out any remaining phone booths in town and filming him performing inside them. Brian liked the idea, but it just didn’t seem practical. So Brian enlisted the help of fellow Midtown Mad Men member Ain Embry, and what those two came up with is far superior to anything I could have dreamt up.

Embry, who owns a small production house called Creative Video & Multimedia, worked with Brian to shoot a video that feels like something Peter Gabriel or Crowded House might have done back in the ’80s if they hadn’t enjoyed the luxury of major-label production budgets. Inspired, at least in part, by the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad, Brian and Ain used a green screen, an obscene amount of cardboard, and at least a pound of magic marker ink to create a delightfully charming one-take video that does plenty of justice to Brian’s excellent lead single, “The Sky Is Alive.” Watch it below. It’s certain to brighten your day (in, perhaps, a slightly sad kind of way).

To learn more about Brian’s music, check out his website. To preview and buy The Right Direction, hit up its iTunes page.