Meet the mad genius behind this Hamilton band's viral videos

John Smith is Young Rival's bassist and the conceptual force behind their unusual videos — and he's taking you behind the scenes of their new one, "Elevator."

John Smith is the conceptual force behind Young Rival's unusual videos

Meet the mad genius behind Young Rival's viral videos


4 years ago
John Smith is Young Rival's bassist and the conceptual force behind their unusual videos - he's taking you behind the scenes of their new one, "Elevator". 4:17

John Smith is the bassist in Young Rival, a band hailing from Hamilton, Ontario. Smith is also the conceptual brain behind Young Rival's often-viral videos, like "Two Reasons" and last year's "Black is Good".

Why do they draw so many views? There's always a pretty simple concept at the heart of Young Rival's videos, courtesy of Smith. "Oh Nancy" took the band on a journey to find the inventor of Chuck E. Cheese's terrifying and gleeful animatronic band, The Rock-afire Explosion, so the (obviously insane) animals could play and sing Young Rival's song. If you're lucky enough to be able to a) cross your eyes and b) see those frustrating Magic Eye posters of dolphins and such at your local mall, you'd be delighted by "Black is Good," where the band plays for you in dizzying 3D.

These are high-concept, low-budget (mostly) videos, and the new one the band is releasing this week, "Elevator," is in keeping with the others. It was made on a dot matrix printer (ask your parents if you don't know what that is), and became a labour of love for John and the band for the last couple of years.

In the above video made by filmmaker March Mercanti, John Smith explains the whole process. (You can do it yourself, if you have infinite patience and about four very vintage printers.)

Young Rival's new video "Elevator" will be released this week — check here or here.

March Mercanti is a film director based out of Toronto. He graduated from the Toronto Film School in 2013. He enjoys documentary driven projects that are able to maintain a strong visual aesthetic.

Watch Exhibitionists Sundays at 4:30pm (5 NT) on CBC.


Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an art history instructor and is always quite terrified of bees.


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