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Torrey Holliday is the “king” of St. Louis hip-hop videos | Music news and interviews | Saint Louis

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Torrey Holliday is the videographer behind popular videography company, Torrey Production.

Torrey Holliday missed a trick from his grandfather to shoot his first music video.

Holliday was 17 at the time, lived with her aunt without a car, and frequented Hazelwood West. He was by no means a professional videographer. He was just a kid whose cousins ​​wanted to rap — and Holliday volunteered to shoot their video. He ordered a camera from Amazon, bought a $5 manual and watched music video tutorial videos on YouTube during breaks at Subway.

Shortly after retrieving the camera, Holliday heard a song, “Murder On My Mind,” by little-known St. Louis rappers Jugg Squad and KUB Dee Huncho. “Oh, that’s hard,” Holliday recalled thinking.

But they needed a music video – a real music video, not something shot in a bedroom with a cell phone.

He happened to know one of the guys from high school. Holliday texted her and offered to do a music video for free. “Let’s work,” he wrote.

They worked. Holliday’s grandfather drove him west to Wabada Avenue, where he spent the afternoon shooting a music video for Jugg Squad and KUB Dee Huncho outside a condemned brick house.

This was possibly the second or third video Holliday had ever shot. He doesn’t remember.

But he remembers one thing: the video exploded.

The whole town was singing the song, says Holliday. People were sharing it all over Facebook and the video eventually reached over 150,000 views.

So, at 17, Holliday quit her job at Subway, scratched her college dreams, and made shooting rap videos in St. Louis her full-time job.

Five years later, Holliday has become one of the top YouTube hip-hop filmmakers in St. Louis. His page, Torrey Production, has amassed over 117,000 subscribers and 75 million total views on YouTube. He has worked with some of the most famous rappers in town, such as 30 Deep Grimeyy, 3 Problems, Benji Brothers and Bizzie Gambino.

He did it all at just 22, even though he seems to have been there a lot longer. He talks fast, rarely stops, spouts the names of obscure St. Louis rappers, and reflects thoughtfully on how he crystallized a career from a YouTube page he created himself.

“I’m like a prized possession,” says Holliday. “They’re like, ‘You’re our key to getting out of the trenches.’ Everyone tells me that. ‘You the way, you the way.’


Music videos have also been the way for Holliday.

Growing up in the St. Louis area, Holliday never had a cohesive home. He describes himself as homeless. Her father was in her life but was struggling with drug addiction. His mother worked two or three jobs at a time but couldn’t find a stable home.

As a child, Holliday never stayed anywhere longer than a year. He lived with his grandmother, mother, father and aunt. For a time he moved to California and stayed in a shelter. At another time, he lived in the attic of a Central West End boarding house and, later, with his aunt in St. Louis County.

“I’ve lived in every part of every corner of St. Louis,” Holliday says. “I went to about 15 different schools.”

Holliday never had a constant home, but he always had movies. Wherever Holliday stayed, they brought a big stack with them. Pirate movies, mostly DVDs they would get from ‘movie man’ – four for $20.

Even when they didn’t have a television, his mother scraped together a few dollars to buy a DVD player. Together they would share earphones – an earphone in Holliday’s ear and an earphone in her mother’s ear.

Movies were their escape, he says.

“I think that’s probably why I love movies and TV shows so much,” he says. “I used to always watch TV shows with my mom and stuff. It’s just me and her in a room.

This is where Holliday says he got the cinematic quality he brings to his music videos.

“I like being on the field,” he said. “That’s what I tell people — it’s an artistic thing for me; it’s a passion. It’s not about the money. I really like working and doing it, especially when it’s something dope.

Unlike many rap directors, Holliday’s videos aren’t muddied by heavy editing. “I don’t really like the trippy style. It’s really corny to me,” he says.

Rather, Holliday steps aside, letting his subjects and their backgrounds speak for themselves. He’ll shake the camera, zoom in and out, or play with natural light, but other than that, Holliday’s videos are focused on the subject.

It doesn’t place them in front of green screens or elaborate backdrops. They are in front of the brick houses of St. Louis, the abandoned warehouses, the Floy and Lenora intersection in Jennings, the downtown civil courts and the Ark. Holliday is only there to capture them as they are, in their space. He calls it “an organic vibe.”

“I let the environment and what they give me paint the picture,” he says.

Almost every shoot goes smoothly. Torrey Production has hundreds of videos, maybe thousands, to show. He also works with all kinds of artists – rap groups, R&B artists and random guys who want a music video.

His work involves risks, especially when making videos for rival gangs in their own turf.

“It’s dangerous, man, that’s why you have to go in and out,” he said. “I’m stopping and you’re not here?” I’m not going to sit and wait for you, brother. You’re not here, I’m gone.

Take a look at his YouTube page and you’ll see videos with people waving guns and pointing a laser sight at the camera. Before even arriving at a shoot, Holliday tells her clients that everyone has to clear their room. Other than that, “as long as they’re on time,” he doesn’t have many rules.

He calls occasional dangers just an “aspect of business.”

“It’s part of the job,” he says. “It’s like saying — they’re building a building. They climb 10, 30 floors. Why are you doing this brother? it pays well! You could fall off a building.

“No risk, no reward.”

Holliday thought about leaving St. Louis. From time to time, he flies to Los Angeles, Atlanta or Chicago to shoot videos for artists who can pay more. He wants to be a film producer. He recently got his passport and hopes to travel the world to places like Greece, the site of his favorite movie, ‘Troy’ (“I love that stuff – Percy Jackson, Zeus, all that stuff,” says- he.)

But he doesn’t leave right away.

“My job here is to help these people get what they need to do,” he says.

Holliday is trying to expand her repertoire. He recently created a series called UNDERDAMIC, where artists rap into an overhead microphone as if they were performing live – similar to the “Open Mic” segment produced by Genius. He also posted a multi-part interview series titled UNDERDALIGHT with St. Louis influencer Heavy G.

“I’m just trying to bring different platforms to the city that we don’t have,” he says. “We don’t have a lot of different outlets here.”

In June, he released nearly 40 videos, almost all with St. Louis rappers. People call him constantly, so often that he had to buy a second work phone. Holliday admits to feeling “empty”, adding that he is taking a break at the end of the month.

When he returns, he wants to do less quick run and shoot videos and more carefully planned treatment videos.

However, he is not done making videos.

Holliday, who has a tattoo of the Torrey Production logo on his right forearm, considers himself a local business, just like Imo, he says. He has no plans to change that. When people in St. Louis need a rap video — anyone, anywhere — he wants to be the company they call.

“I’m on top here. I’m the king of the castle right now, see what I’m sayin’? King of the castle, don’t give me any trouble,” he said, staring at the ceiling and rubbing his hands with a childish smile.