OK Go has released the first in a series of six music videos that will stitch together footage of people around the world playing the band’s 2020 song “All Together Now.”
The project has its roots in the quarantine creation of “All Together Now,” which the members of OK Go wrote and recorded at their respective homes after frontman Damian Kulash and his family came down with Covid-19. The band released the song last May, dedicating it to frontline workers. A few months later, a high school choir teacher from Long Island requested sheet music so her students could record a version of the song from their respective homes.
OK Go and the band’s educational endeavor, OK Go Sandbox, loved the idea so much they made the sheet music available to everyone and asked people to send in videos of themselves playing the song. The band received submissions from over 15,000 people hailing from 21 countries and playing an array of instruments, including hurdy-gurdies, pots and pans, tuned PVC pipes, and even a unique toy synth called an Otamatone.
With so many videos to choose from, the band decided to make a series out of it, the #ArtTogetherNow project. Starting Wednesday, April 28th, the band will release six videos, each highlighting a different version of the song, created by meticulously layering and arranging every submitted video they received.
In an email to Rolling Stone, Kulash said OK Go’s remote creation of “All Together Now” may have given the song some qualities that made it ideal for such an endeavor: He cites, for instance, the song’s relatively simple, but somewhat sloppy beat (“The messier the claps are on the backbeats, the warmer the whole thing gets”) and layered harmonies. But, he adds, neither were particularly conscious creative choices at the time.
“For the most part, I think the lyrics and mood were what attracted choral groups to it,” Kulash said. “There are only so many songs out there about finding hope during a pandemic, after all.”
Luke Tozour, who served as the musical producer for the project, said that it was “natural to hear all the submissions as a giant jam session.” He added of splicing together all the clips: “The experience is similar to making any record. Do the parts complement each other? When they do, it’s magic, and finding those magical moments is one of the best parts of making music.”
The first #ArtTogetherNow video, dubbed “Symphony From Home,” appears to pay tribute to the high school choir teacher whose initial request launched the project: It was filmed in the empty auditorium of the Soraya in Los Angeles and finds various videos dropped on top of chairs spread out in a semi-circle around the stage. At the end of the clip, the camera pans to the audience where OK Go give a standing ovation.
“To see and hear people of all different ages, backgrounds, and musical abilities in their living rooms, bedrooms, and classrooms is really very touching,” OK Go bassist Tim Nordwind said. “Watching how a tap dancer, a mother singing with her baby, a classroom of young students clapping, a hurdy-gurdy player, and an opera singer, from all different parts of the globe, work together to make such beautiful music reminds us that even though we’re apart, we’re still able to work as a community to share hope and stay connected. We were just so moved and felt as though this video deserved to be one of the six versions released.”
The remaining #ArtTogetherNow videos will each have their own theme and feature animations by Megan Kim, Vanessa Förmer, Scott Cook, and James Bellucci. Future clips will also feature some notable contributors including Carly Ciarrocchi (co-host of National Geographic’s Weird But True) indie pop singe Jeremy Messersmith, author Neil Gaiman, and The Voice contestant Shalyah Fearing.