What did you do on your summer vacation?
For kids in school, it's the usual writing assignment on their first day back in class.
For members of the local band Behind Sapphire, the summer of 2012 has been anything but typical.
As a video project, they set a goal of recording one cover song a day during 62 days of summer in July and August, in a variety of styles and locations.
The project is nearing completion, and members of the band are feeling a mix of exhilaration, exhaustion and extreme gratitude toward fans (new and existing) who have tuned in to see the results online, at behindsapphire.tumblr.com.
Over the past couple of months, Behind Sapphire has done versions of songs by Bon Iver, The Beatles, Carly Rae Jepsen, Maroon 5, Adele, Coldplay, One Direction, Gotye and many other high-profile artists, along with some more obscure ones. They've climbed giant trees to record videos, sang in a vehicle driven around the city by ex-Canucks goalie Kirk McLean and admired creatures at the aquarium while playing.
It all began as a Facebook post by the quintet asking fans which covers they should do. The huge response sparked an idea to do all of the songs, not just one or two, along with some other tunes.
Each of the videos is done live with minimal takes and edits.
"We wanted to keep it as real as possible, with the natural noises, mistakes and imperfections," said Matthew Mazankowski, the band's lead guitarist.
At Vancouver Aquarium, they put their own spin on Raffi's "Baby Beluga" as whales swam in the background.
"It was really a magical moment," Mazankowski added. "It was super crazy, because just a week later, we heard about the passing of Kavna, the beluga, so we dedicated the song to him. (Later), we even climbed a giant tree on Cambie Street (which has a rope swing, hammock and pully-basket already built in) and tied up a drum kit, brought up our guitars and sang Beatles songs."
All filming, editing and recording was done by the band and its close friends.
"It's hard work, but it's a real community, a real close, tight-knit group of people, coming together to make something fun, fresh and exciting," Mazankowski told me. "It keeps us on our toes! That's what Behind Sapphire is all about: Playing music, doing what we love, sharing it, working like a racehorse and, most importantly, doing it all with our best friends."
This Friday night (Aug. 31), Behind Sapphire takes the stage at Vancouver's Russian Hall with the bands Noble Oak, Ferals and Ten Million. The show will serve as a farewell performance for Behind Sapphire drummer/bassist Steve Ward, who is leaving the band to go back to school.