Trey Anastasio has been making music on his own and with the iconic Phish for nearly 40 years. While some artists may take it easy, Anastasio is a special breed that has to keep creating. Now, he offers fans an inside look at not only his creative process, but his personal life with the new documentary Between Me and My Mind. This intimate look at Anastasio is being released in theaters for one night only for an unforgettable experience. Before the release of the film, GENRE IS DEAD! sat down with filmmakers Steve Cantor and Jamie Schutz about making the film, what it was like to have access to Trey’s private moments, and what they hope fans gain from the experience.
GENRE IS DEAD!: Between Me and My Mind is a film that follows Trey Anastasio and looks at his creative process along with capturing Phish’s huge 2017 Soul Planet: New Year’s Eve show. Can you tell me a bit about the film and how it came about?
Steve Cantor: This film is an inside look at Trey’s creative process. We obviously know and love Phish and Trey, but we’ve never really seen how things get created. So, when we spoke to Trey about the film at the very beginning of this project, we told him that we really wanted take the audience on a that creative journey. And that was something he could get behind. During this time, he was being influenced by his friends, family, people he’s lost in the past and people he ended up losing during filming and I think it forms his writing. We were fortunate enough to capture that process of putting the first idea on the page to ultimately finishing the songs. Alongside that, Phish did the big New Year’s Eve show. Those are really the two threads we are covering in the film along with moments of Trey having conversations with his family – all of that forms his creative process.
GID: Because the film focuses on his creative process, it stands out from traditional music documentaries because it’s not about the history of Phish or Trey’s history. Why did you pursue this angle rather than the traditional rock doc?
SC: I think we approach every film, whether about a musician or any other subject, the same which is trying to find a storyline to focus on. With Trey there were two concurrent things going on: the huge New Year’s Eve show and writing a new album. Every year he plays this huge New Year’s Eve concert and they do a gag when the clocks strikes midnight. It’s a huge production set piece, so we got to follow the creation of that. At the same time, his best friend was dying and he was in a reflective state of mind. I think he wanted everything in his life to help him form this new work. He talked to his kids, his wife, his parents, his bandmates, and friends in ways he probably hadn’t before.
Jamie Schutz: Trey considers himself to be extremely fortunate that he’s still in the middle of his career. With Phish doing so well, the band’s really enjoying the tours and all of the shows, it didn’t feel like the right time for him to look back and be nostalgic on his entire career. I think that’s right for some bands and I think that comes at a certain time, but it’s certainly not the time yet for Trey and it’s not the time for Phish. Also to Steve’s point, it’s not the kind of movie we typically make either.
GID: Interestingly enough Steve, you weren’t actually weren’t a Phish fan when you and Jamie started the project and now you are. What convinced you to take on the project?
SC: Jamie is my business partner and he’s been a Phish fan for 25 years. He’s been to over 100 shows and he got the whole thing off the ground. He talked to their manager and brought the band in for a meeting, which went on for three hours, but felt like two years really – they never stopped talking to each other. I wasn’t necessarily a fan of Phish though I respected them and I liked their music, but I wasn’t a groupie who goes to tons of shows. But Trey explodes with creativity and kindness and passion; that’s the kind of person you look forward to building a film around. And he had things going on in his life that would present an interesting arch that would have to resolve one way or another. Either the New Year’s Eve gag was going to well or not or the album was either going to be well received or not. Most importantly Jamie was right that Trey is such an amazing complicated really energetic beautiful guy.
GID: This is a very intimate documentary following Trey in his creative space as well as seeing him spend time with his family. What was it like to capture these moments that fans don’t have access to?
SC: A lot of documentary filming is sitting around getting stuff you think is not going to make the film. Usually, you can tell when something special happens and it’s always an exhilarating moment when you see something magical happen. Trey makes a lot of magic happen, so the shoot days were always pretty exciting. We have hours and hours of footage – we could’ve made this movie nine hours long. There’s so much banter with his bandmates and his family. Every conversation went on for an hour and they were very interesting and deeply psychological.
JS: As a Phish fan, I was excited to watch the process unfold. As we were going through production, Steve and I had a lot of conversations about how do we make this authentic for a Phish fan and provide them with something they truly want to see? At the same time, how do we make an interesting film so that if you’ve never heard of Phish, it’s a film that hopefully you’ll enjoy and get to know this character and root for him?
GID: Similar to Steve, I’m also not a Phish fan, though I really respect them and the angle of the film caught my attention. I wanted to know more of Trey’s story even though I’m not a fan, so it seems like it’ll appeal to both fans and music lovers.
SC: Music to our ears because that’s what we set out to do.