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Finding Home premieres with music from Valentiger

I reflect on a decade of original music set to film at the red carpet screening of the Michigan-made, Finding Home.
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The author at the red carpet screening of Finding Home.

The author at the red carpet screening of Finding Home. /Stephen Holsinger

Attendance totaled just under 500 for the premiere of Finding Home at Celebration! Cinema Grand Rapids North & IMAX.

Attendance totaled just under 500 for the premiere of Finding Home at Celebration! Cinema Grand Rapids North & IMAX. /Ryan Webber

Valentiger found themselves at the theater on a Thursday night, attending the premiere of Finding Home, a movie project to which they had contributed music. There was excitement in the air not unlike that of album release parties we'd thrown in the past. All the cast and crew were there and everyone who supported the film and its directors were excited to see the final product on the big screen. We snapped a photo or two on the red carpet and then waited in line to be announced and ushered into the theater, taking our reserved seats along with our dates and producer Steve Holsinger. The lights went down and the audience applauded when the Bright Idea Pictures slide came up, they hollered when one of the actors made an appearance and people recognized and pointed out many familiar places throughout the Michigan-made movie.

The film featured many songs from Valentiger and, when the first snippet appeared, it was at first startling. Personally, myself and the band members, we have heard some of these older songs to the extent they have become outside of ourselves. We have separated the fact that we once performed and recorded them from them simply existing as a song, out there, somewhere in the world. We are different and, hopefully, improved people since the days when these works were written, played, practiced, recorded and originally showcased. But as I sat in a quiet theater with hundreds of people and listened to "Misanthropy," I was sucked right back into the world where that song was erected. That smooth guitar lick on an acoustic guitar, haunting harmonic notes, the tight crack of Rider's snare drum and a teenage "me," with a cold and melancholy, gravelly vocal, singing ideas and thoughts I had over a decade ago. I listened as all these things became familiar again, played over new images, propelling characters and themes in the movie. The songs live on; they are always existing. But I was presented the chance to witness it for myself and, in a way, reassess many of them in the present. We are always looking forward, but sometimes we forget the past is how we got here and from what we are moving.

A number of songs continued to appear throughout the movie and it became more apparent: I am proud of our past works. I don't have to like them. I don't have to think they're good anymore. But the fact remains- we worked really hard and were always genuine. It's easy to be nostalgic about Rider recording drums for Color in the garage or Holsinger playing a borrowed upright bass on "Man on Fire," but there is also value in all the less memorable times. All the arguments, the painful coordination of musicians, schedules, deadlines, countless hours of mixing, the constant question of artistic integrity and eventually driving a van around to perform the music: all these things are equally, if not more important.

The final scene featured the full version of a work I'd written for the movie itself, less than three months prior. It was something new for me, to write a song from someone else's jumping point and I was excited to hear it with the images, projecting from a theater sound system. It all came together well and there was certainly something magical about such a large number of people in one room watching, listening, thinking, feeling.

The movie was over and we spilled back out into the lobby, finding other people we knew and talking about the film and the experience. And at that moment it all seemed really important. Not the movie or any of the music, but what we were all doing there. How all these people worked together to make something, anything, and others, including themselves gathered to experience, investigate and support it. We all talked about it, shared beers afterward.

It felt like something that might be missing a little bit in the way we operate in the age of technology: I enjoyed being there.

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