Bigger than Yeezus

Filmmaker Avery Stedman and rapper SMRT want their “No Limit” music video to be more popular than the Beatles

Electric Reel Productions’ Avery Stedman and rapper SMRT are a couple of straight up dudes. They’re the kind of guys you would watch in movies from the late ‘90s and go “I’d like to drink Slurpees with them at the skate park.”

Stedman is equally as friendly as he is mysterious. While setting up our interview to “get the feng shui right,” he throws out entertainingly cryptic comments like “Today is art day. We’ve just been, you know, doing art things all day.”

He and SMRT, who collaborated on the rapper’s music video for his song “No Limit”, have an irresistible chemistry and easily throw witty remarks back and forth.

“We just want people to see [the music video], and share it...” Stedman says before being interrupted by SMRT. 

“We want it to be bigger than guns, cigarettes, Jesus, and the Beatles,” SMRT says. “Make sure you put that in the article.”

While Stedman’s passion is music video cinematography (he’s worked with such artists as AudioOpera, The Quota , and Mercy Street) he enjoys some corporate work on the side to pay the bills. 

“I like to eat and have heat” he says. “I film a lot of dogs in slow motion for couples. I make dogs look so good. Do you have a dog? Do you want it to be purple? I can make your dog purple.”

Stedman and SMRT’s playful attitude comes through in their collaborative effort on “No Limit”. SMRT’s co-star in the non-performance video is a colourful umbrella that pops in slow motion scenes shot throughout a beautiful looking downtown Winnipeg.

“Everything looks good in slowmo with colour correction.” Stedman says with a laugh. 

He says the partnership on the video was a laid back one that they figured out as they went. 

“We didn’t know what we wanted to do, so we just started filming,” Stedman says. “We went to Polo Park first and got shut down, but we still had some really nice mall shots. Portage Place was easy to deal with, and the guy at Oriental Gifts was cool. We shot the video low-key over about four months.”

As for the song, there are many interesting themes in SMRT’s lyrics, but his inspiration comes from a humble place. 

“When I was in Grade 9 I broke my ankle. I was laid back on the couch, and the song is about that”, he says.

Curled up in an office chair with rings on each finger and black nail polish, SMRT’s outward appearance doesn’t scream hip hop. 

“My influences are Slayer, Megadeth, GWAR… and Kanye,” he says. “People who hadn’t heard my music before thought I was just acting in the video, then when they found out it was me they’d be like ‘Really? Cool’”. 

“I like to play up that surprise. I think it’s inherent in Canada in general that we don’t care much about image”.

If you’d like to hear more from SMRT, you won’t have to wait long. 

“I’ve got a mixture tape coming out called Big Sword. It should be out by February 14, a perfect day to have a big sword,” the rapper says.

Published in Volume 68, Number 18 of The Uniter (January 29, 2014)

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