AU – OJ + Ida Walked Away Music Videos (Interview w/ Luke Wyland & Director Takafumi Tsuhiya)

“I believe there is something universal in [how] sounds correspond with visuals [that] is over the boundaries of language.” – Takafumi Tsuhiya

The rambunctiously chaotic music of Portland’s AU is translated into bright visual forms when processed by Japanese animator and video artist Takafumi Tsuhiya. Both the director and AU’s frontman, Luke Wyland, speak below about their collaborations for this year’s “OJ” and 2010’s “Ida Walked Away”, along with how they’ve each grown in that time period.



“I believe there is something universal in [how] sounds correspond with visuals [that] is over the boundaries of language.” – Takafumi Tsuhiya


How did your collaboration and association first form?

For the first music video (“Ida Walked Away”), the person from record label which released the Japanese edition of AU’s second album introduced me to their original released label. And I was asked to make the video. I accepted the offer without hesitation. Because I was already big fan of AU from their 1st album. – Takafumi Tsuhiya

If I remember correctly, the connection was made through Alec from Aagoo Records back when we were prepping to release the Versions EP. It’s all been pretty hands off on my end. Thankfully, I’ve never worried much about what he’d come up with as I’ve loved everything I’ve seen him create. – Luke Wyland, AU


Who came up with the concepts for both “OJ” and “Ida Walked Away,” and how closely did the both parties work together to create the final product?

There was music first. And I listened to it carefully hundred times.
There is no regulation for these and not so much discussion.
They leave me all to myself.
Just songs are very close in my mind. – Takafumi Tsuhiya

Both of the video’s were conceived entirely by Tak. We would deliver the songs and then wait a few months until he was ready to start showing us previews. As it’s gone for bot,h there was never any need to change or asks for alternate versions. In a sense, trusting his artistic vision so blindly has been really enjoyable both times. – Luke Wyland, AU


This is your second time working with one another, and the video and music have both leveled up in terms of energy level and technical ability. In the past two years, what would you say has changed most about your creative output?

Nothing changed in energy level at all.
It’s depends on where the inspirations came from.
AU’s music is always inspire me and take me to next level.
In technically, I did a lot of commercial works in the past 2 years.
This experience was feed backed to output. – Takafumi Tsuhiya

For myself, a pretty drastic reconfiguring of our sound as well as the approach to our live show. This was also the first album written and recorded with Dana Valatka on drums, which had a huge influence over the energy of the album, though making Both Lights was honestly a pretty arduous process for me. It took far longer than any other album in the past and by far caused me more stress than anything I’ve ever produced in my life. But in the end, I was committed to seeing things through beyond the my usual breaking point of loss of enjoyment. Songs would go through numerous different permutations until I felt like they had taken on a life of their own. Sometimes it was simple blind (or stubborn) commitment that allowed me to see them through to the end. There were certainly moments when I almost trashed a few of the songs that eventually became some of my favorites of the album. – Luke Wyland, AU




Do you think that different cultures have different associations to what sounds correspond with what colors or visuals, or do you think those are fairly universal ideas?

I’m still looking for the answer.
I believe there is something universal in [how] sounds correspond with visuals [that] is over the boundaries of language.
And I always try to make something universal beyond a [singular] meaning.
At the same time, I think they also contain unique to the region and cultural sphere.
For example, South American artists are using color scheme totally different from Japanese. – Takafumi Tsuhiya

I’d say one could go with either idea. Obviously each culture has its own associative language built up around their historical relationship with music and visual expression, but as the collective culture becomes more and more worldwide those connections become less tied to the spaces we grew up in. I see it more and more these days a forest of trees that each have been grafted onto differing root systems. Luke Wyland, AU

Do you agree that there is a resurgent interest in color, synesthesia, and kaleidoscopic music and visuals? If so, why do you suppose that is?

I agree with this. Our interest has been moved [towards the] fundamentals of life. Something that cannot be explained in words would be more and more important.– Takafumi Tsuhiya

I don’t know if there is specifically a resurgence, or just more attention in the media paid to such things. For as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve felt pretty surrounded by a pretty prismatic culture. Whether from the neons of the ’80s or the hippy/rave culture of the ’90s, and now a strange amalgam of it all through this current time’s nostalgic lens, things have felt pretty saturated with such things. If anything, it’s this exact focus on nostalgia that may make it seem like there is a resurgence of interest. Just a thought. – Luke Wyland, AU


“Our interest has been moved [towards the] fundamentals of life. Something that cannot be explained in words would be more and more important.” – Takafumi Tsuhiya



Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Josh Inkaton
Josh Inkaton
11 years ago

great post.
i am absolutly agree : something is universal, even if we don’t know it yet.
Maybe this little art project can please you. Just look it once, not more.

People always looks into mean and not just enought about feeling.


[…] In my opinion it is just an amazing work. It’s very deeply designed and very well crafted. I could blabber for like a week about the possible meanings, but I’ll focus on technique now. If you are interested in some info told directly by the authors I recommend you this interview. […]

Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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