I have been a fan of Vancouver, Canada-based photographer Elizabeth Gadd for years, but only recently noticed that there always seemed to be a four-legged companion on her adventures. It turns out, that K-9 is the adorable Pepper the Adventure dog, who has amassed an impressive 10,000 followers on his Instagram account.
So, when I saw my friend Jarrad Seng was coming through the United States and into Canada while photographing the latest tour for Michael Rosenberg, otherwise known as Passenger, the last thing I expected to see was the duo take time off to make a music video, let alone a music video featuring Pepper. But that’s exactly what happened.
While on their North American tour, Seng came up with the idea to have Pepper be in the video for the cover of Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’. But right away, it’s pretty obvious that Pepper is in some remote woods, and Passenger is in the city of San Francisco. I wondered whether this was part of the original storyboard for the video, so I sat down with Seng and grilled him about the video.
Resource Travel: Now, as a viewer, it’s easy to think of 100 different meanings from the video, especially with Passenger and Pepper being in separate cities for the majority. Can you fill us in on a little of the story arc you came up with during development?
Well, the thing with creating content on the road is that you have to be prepared for anything, and for the plan to change hourly. We stick to a strict schedule of creating, shooting and publishing one music video every week while we’re on tour. It’s extremely hectic and I have to be able to work with whatever I’ve got, whoever I’ve got in whichever city I am at the time.
The original idea for this video was for Mike himself to be strolling and singing in these beautiful woods. We flew into Vancouver early to make it happen. Unfortunately, Mike started to get quite sick around this time and needed to conserve all energy for the concerts (you know, his actual work), so that ruled him out of the filming in the forest. In the wake of this, I had to come up with an interesting story arc that we could pull off, and engage people with, but without featuring Mike. Which is a hard ask. Thankfully I knew wherever Lizzy was, Pepper wouldn’t be too far behind, so we essentially replaced Mike with our friendly adventure dog. Pepper’s scenes were filmed in Golden Ears provincial park, basically in Lizzy’s back yard. It was amazing to watch him run and leap around the woods. Definitely his happy place.
There had to be a story to give the video some foundation, so we turned the narrative into one of two lost souls searching for something, and then hopefully finding it in the end. It was crucial to get them in a scene together so I dragged Mike away for an hour to meet Pepper in a nearby park before the show. We filmed Mike’s scenes when he was feeling a little better later in the week in San Francisco and tried to piece it together in the edit to make it a seamless and believable transition.
How long have you been working with Passenger, and how did you become his go-to photographer?
I’ve been working with Mike for five or six years now. We started collaborating very much in the early days of busking, playing to handfuls of people, staying in beat up hostels. Over time we’ve forged a really solid creative relationship and really understand each other’s vision and how to achieve it.
How did you come to meet Elizabeth Gadd and her Adventure Dog Pepper?
We’d been messaging each other for a while, but I first met Lizzy in person late last year in Iceland where, in a turn of events, we both ended up being stranded in the highlands with fellow photographers Benjamin Hardman and Shane Black. How all good friendships start! I only met Pepper on the day of the shoot, but Lizzy wears her love of chocolate and dogs well on her sleeve so I felt like I already knew him. I’m a massive fan of Lizzy’s work and even more so, her personality and outlook on life. Her and Pepper are the perfect match!
So of course, being dog obsessed, I had to know more about Pepper, so I turned to Lizzy to ask her why Pepper is the perfect adventure dog.
Of the many perfect adventuresome qualities that Pepper possesses, my favorite is his loyalty. He’ll never let me out of sight, always checking back over his shoulder to make sure I’m keeping up. No matter the scale of adventure, I’ve never had to worry about losing him, or even losing myself when he’s around to lead. His energies are perfectly matched with mine, no matter how I’m feeling. We can run, hike, explore and adventure all day, or we can just lay on our favourite napping couch for hours. No complaints from him either way…just a goofy smile and a heart full of love.
Somehow, I think that blooper scene at the end of the video is what a normal touring day with Passenger is like. Is the tour all fun and games like us non-mega superstar recording artists might think it is?”
Well, there’s definitely a lot of tomfoolery and shenanigans that happen on tour, but probably the biggest thing that people don’t see is how much bloody work it is. A typical day for me will involve moving from one city to another, shooting/filming for a few hours around the city, editing that footage into our latest music video, shooting the actual concert, editing the concert imagery for a couple hours after that, before going to bed on the tour bus and starting it all again in the next city. But you know, all of this is while I’m traveling the world with my best mates, so I can’t complain!
All Photos by Jarrad Seng, except for the lead photo by Elizabeth Gadd.