Jena Pyle has designed a music video like no other for “Find Ur Grind,” her recent collaboration with Jack Uppling’s solo project, Seattle Listening Party. Beyond writing the lyrical content and singing on the track, Pyle, who is also a professional illustrator and designer, created a fantastical and interactive lofi-meets-vaporwave 3D space in which she, Uppling, and other musicians on the track sing and dance in elaborate outfits designed by artist Janelle Abbott. By clicking and dragging in the frame of the video, listeners can move 360 degrees around a vibrant, cloud-covered room; on the walls, Pyle installed rainbow-arched doorways, realistic metallic flower planters, gold pillars, and several framed screens with performance clips.
The incredibly unique and interactive video is one of several music videos Pyle’s made for her own band, Sundae Crush, and other local bands like Tacocat. But, Pyle concedes, this is perhaps the most complex one she’s ever designed. “I went to school for design, but I taught myself 3D,” Pyle says. “I watched a lot of tutorials on creating a 360 room and a lot of the trainings. There’s a lot that went into it.”
What’s more, while there are a few other 3D videos out there (like the work of Blake Kathryn, one of Pyle’s favorite 3D artists), “Find Ur Grind” is one of the only music videos that uses this technology.
“Jena worked very hard on the video with Izaac Mellow and I love how it turned out,” says Uppling. “I’d never really seen a 360 room video before and I think it’s perfect for the song.”
Sure enough, the upbeat track paired with the original video offers listeners a really fresh and exciting way to experience the music and the concepts “Find Ur Grind” explores.
Pyle’s lyrics describe the hamster wheel of the of “rise and grind” culture, or the capitalistic idea that your value is first and foremost defined by what you can bring others, and bucks against it—mirroring a very real shift Pyle’s been going through in her personal life.
“I just realized I was giving my time to things I didn’t love or things I didn’t think were going to help me grow as a person,” she says. “So I started to really think more about the time that I had and how precious it was and started setting more boundaries with the things that I was going to allow in my life.”
For Uppling, it’s also a symbol of their perseverance with the project during the pandemic. “I haven’t often been very satisfied with the way my songs have turned out in the past, but this one is different,” he admits. “I really appreciate Jena working on this one with me for so long, throughout the pandemic. Receiving new files from Jena in 2020 were extremely helpful in getting me through the year.”
Uppling moved to Seattle from Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2016 with his band The Landmarks. For the next three years, The Landmarks played shows throughout the city, getting to know other artists and bands. But in 2020, when The Landmarks decided to go their separate ways, Uppling continued to make music on his own and set out to work with more talent from the rich community he’d become a part of. Inspired by the mixtape-style collaborations of groups like Gorillaz and Daft Punk, Uppling formed Seattle Listening Party with the intention to stretch himself creatively and collaborate with more local musicians.
“It’s nice to be able to release electronic and modern classical stuff on my own, but I’m mostly excited about working with different vocalists and musicians. This project allowed me to just do whatever and have fun with people,” explains Uppling.
In 2019, Uppling had already written the music for what would become “Find Ur Grind,” but The Landmarks never got around to playing it. In fact, he had five previously-written songs in the vault that he hoped to shop around and record with collaborators.
One of the first collaborators Uppling approached was Pyle, who was immediately drawn to the demo version of “Find Ur Grind” that Uppling had laid down with engineer/producer Dylan Wall (Great Grandpa) and Razor Clam drummer Jess Bierhaus in 2019. Pyle brought her own colorful sensibility to the track, which Uppling says was initially “inspired by coffee, skateboarding and Lisa Simpson.”
With the success of “Find Ur Grind,” Uppling plans to release other tracks as Seattle Listening Party, including one track with artist Tylee Toyoda from The Landmarks/All Star Opera on drums, Abbey Blackwell from Alvvays on bass, and Laja Olaiya and Alyssa Clarke on vocals, as well as another track featuring Lena Farr-Morrissey from Coral Grief. Eventually, Uppling plans to create an EP or LP of these collaborative tracks.
For her part, Pyle is just happy she got to be involved and make the video, a passion project that reflects her intention to protect her time and enjoy herself more.
“I just wanted to create a really fun music video,” she says. “I didn’t want to overthink it. I wanted engage with my friends, [wear] cool outfits, play around and dance around—to just have fun.”
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