Connell Miller was excited, sure, but it was his sister who was beyond thrilled.
Earlier this fall, when Miller saw an email soliciting for a local marching band to be featured in a music video starring teen pop star Shawn Mendes, he saw an opportunity. So did his 17-year-old sister, Molly.
“She freaked out. She’s a fan,” said Miller, who is the promotions director for the Western Mustang Band.
After he sent along a statement of interest, the band got the gig and some 20 members, clad in purple and white, are prominently featured in Mendes’ new video, Something Big, released last week.
Just as the band seized the opportunity that came with the initial email, so too did Molly.
“My sister actually came with me because she really, really wanted to be in (the video). We gave her a flag and put her in one of those cheerleading get-ups and she is in it, the only one (of us) who’s not in the band,” added Miller, a fourth-year Engineering student.
But a lot of the band members were equally excited. After all, it was a big opportunity to showcase Western’s 75-year-old marching band tradition.
Mendes, 16, whose popularity skyrocketed in less than a year, has more than 2 million followers on Twitter. His career took off last year after he began posting cover videos on Vine, a social video app. Garnering millions of views in a few months, he was discovered online earlier this year and signed to Island Records. He released his first single, Life of the Party, in June and is the youngest artist to debut in the top 25 with a debut song on the Billboard Hot 100.
“We’re getting a ton of press from this. It’s great. We weren’t totally expecting it, but then we saw how big he was on YouTube and his social media presence. He’s kind of like the ‘Justin Bieber of Vine,’ if I can put it that way, because he’s someone who found fame through these six-second videos,” Miller said.
“I wish I could communicate how good I am with a guitar in six seconds,” he laughed.
The video shoot, in Brampton, last month, was a long day for everyone, stretching from 6 a.m. to nearly midnight. But it was a fun learning experience, and a great opportunity for exposure for the band, which didn’t have to play any music for the video, but learned it regardless to show off its skills and professionalism.
“We didn’t get paid a whole lot, basically enough to cover transportation costs, but we’re OK with that because promotion like this is worth its weight in gold and you can’t buy that,” he said.
The average age of people on the set of Something Big, Miller noted, was 15-16.
“We were probably the oldest people there,” continued Miller, who plays trombone and some drum line for the band.
“We never really comprehended how much work can go into one of those music videos. We’ve done a couple of other music videos but they were always one-take music videos where there was just one shot you had to get. It was a very interesting and very cool experience,” he added.
“It’s very interesting and I think once this song actually hits the radio, I think things will get even bigger from there and the band will get more attention.”