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Behind the Video: Vaquero (Travis Presley) Examines the “Stranger” Music Video

Travis Presley, previously the bassist for Burn Halo, discusses Vaquero and the music video for the hard rock act’s debut single “Stranger.”



Vaquero aka Travis Presley, photo by Andrew Basso @ Electrum Photography
Vaquero aka Travis Presley, photo by Andrew Basso @ Electrum Photography

The time has come for Travis Presley to step to the forefront, and that’s what he has done with Vaquero. The musician’s (ex-bassist of hard rockers Burn Halo) new musical endeavour is all him, his vision and his conception. With Vaquero, all of the creative freedom belongs to Presley, who uses it as an outlet for self-exploration and empowerment. Presley is originally from Sacramento, California, but is now stationed in Melbourne, Australia. Here, he began to cultivate this new project, bringing together alternative rock, metalcore, and alternative metal to craft his unique sound.

Engrained within the spirit of Vaquero is Presley’s life philosophy. He wanted to imbue the project by facing life’s challenges head-on and not running for cover when the going gets tough. You can hear it in the debut Vaquero single “Stranger.” The song is an exploration of confronting and integrating one’s shadow self. It’s inspired by the psychological concepts of Carl Jung. Vaquero is an attempt to navigate the landscapes of sound and emotion, which makes for a musical experience that is raw, resilient, and reflective.

Today, we are joined by Presley to discuss the dazzling new music video for “Stranger,” as well as his general views on the state of music videos. Check out our latest Behind the Video interview.

Who directed the video?

Travis Presley:David Hunter at Band Factory Media.”

What’s the concept behind the video? Help us to understand the video’s concept in more detail and how it ties into the lyrics.

“Dave and I originally had a concept of me screaming into a mirror image of myself but a dark version. Dave, on the fly, came up with the dark version appearing in reality and screaming at me in reality and basically taking me hostage. It really tied into the fighting with my inner self-concept of the song.”

Did you have a concept in mind based on the song or was Dave Hunter given full reign to come up with a suitable visual companion?


Where was it made?

Fabrik Studios in Melbourne, Australia. Awesome spot.”

What was your favourite part behind the creation of the video?

“I’ve always loved being able to make a music video. I feel with the growing of self-made videos on platforms like Instagram and TikTok that the art form of music videos is dying. The whole process is a blast.”

Based on how this one was made, are you looking forward to doing another?

“I will always make music videos, it’s expensive but always so worth it.”

What are some of your favourite music videos? What about when you were growing up?

Spiritbox is making some of the cleanest videos out there right now. Simple and sweet. Always can appreciate expansive ones put out by Bring Me the Horizon as well. Back in the day, though, I loved the live-shot videos from bands like Killswitch Engage and Asking Alexandria. Love to do one of those one day.”

Which band or artist do you think had the greatest music videos?

Falling in Reverse.”

What makes a music video “bad” or “good”? What makes it “great?”

“Quality. Unless the quality is part of the art.”

Vaquero "Stranger" single artwork

Vaquero “Stranger” single artwork

What should a music video set out to accomplish? Do you feel like yours did that?

“Should capture the essence and feeling of the song. I feel that mine did that this time.”

What is one thing you’re more than happy to do for a music video that everyone else seems to absolutely refuse to do?

“I’d steer clear of the majority of the typical pop music interpretations that are out there. But I understand that shock value sells.”

Which statement seems most true to you: Music videos are a “high” form of art; music videos are a “low” form of art; music videos can be “high” or “low” art; it doesn’t matter, all art is art; it doesn’t matter, nothing really matters.

“Music videos can be “high” or “low” art; it doesn’t matter, all art is art.”

What’s your favourite thing about music videos?

“They’re a blast to create.”

Did one of your favourite artists ever put out a music video you felt wasn’t as good as the music? Which one?

Coheed and Cambria put out some hot trash. Enough said.”

What do you think was the most controversial music video?

“‘This is America’ by Childish Gambino. Absolutely incredible.”

Any mishaps on set?

“Benny ate the concrete on a spin jump.”

If money was no issue what would be in your perfect video?

“Music video mid-sky dive.”

If you could have any guest appear in your video, who would you have?

Dracula Flow.”

Do you prefer writing a video around the theme of a song or just going to a warehouse and banging out a live performance?

“Bit of both.”

How does the music inform the video in terms of visuals matching sound?

“I use a lot of dark themes because of the content I am writing about.”

Have you ever had such a great idea for a music video that you’ve written music for it?

“The next one. Stay tuned.”

How important are music videos in terms of increased exposure?

“Incredibly important.”

How important a role does social media play in sharing videos and increasing exposure?

“Incredibly important.”

How much more effective or beneficial is creating a music video now compared to 20 or 30 years ago?

“It was more effective then, but still effective now. Just need a lot more shock factor.”

Vaquero “Stranger” artwork

Vaquero “Stranger” artwork

Are the benefits worth the costs and effort involved?

“I love this process.”

Is YouTube (or ‘online-only’ platforms) a good enough platform by itself to justify creating a music video?

“Of course. Use what you can.”

Is a well-made DIY video just as good or beneficial as a professionally made/directed video?

“If it works, it works.”

Did this video have a budget, and could you stick with it?

“Low budget but high quality, wink wink.”

How much of the video was self-made?

“Nah, Davo took care of it.”

High-quality lyric video, live video, cinematic music video… What’s your preferred format and why?

“Cinematic always.”