David Daniell & Douglas McCombs – “30265” Music Video (Interview w/ Director Timothy Leeds)

“Dealing in the macro universe, an extremely wide variety of imagery will present itself in a relatively short amount of time.” — Timothy Leeds

In 2009, David Daniell of San Agustin and Douglas McCombs of Tortoise disassembled and reassembled seven hours of in-studio improvisation into their collaborative LP, Sycamore. For their upcoming 2012 release, Versions, they’ve given the same seven hours of material and the same creative liberties to engineer and producer Ken Brown to offer up his assemblage of choice. The experimental approach has led to two vastly different records that still live in the same sonic universe. The surprisingly little amount of content overlap between the two releases sees to be, in and of itself, evidence of the importance of individual perspectives.

Versions comes out May 15th on Thrill Jockey Records, and its initial introduction to the public comes in the form of a slow-motion video directed and conceptualized by filmmaker Timothy Leeds, with the help of David Merten. As the sounds of “30265” teeter gently upon small instrumental seesaws, shapes in Leeds’ video pulse and throb in subtle response. In the Q&A below, Leeds describes the video creation process and some of the decisions behind it.



How was this piece conceptualized, and how closely did you work with David Daniell and Douglas McCombs?

My creative process works in one of two modes, input or output. I’ll spend years just gathering thoughts, looking at things, experimenting, searching for inspiration, and earnestly marinating thoughts until I can find a suitable use. A year or so back, I was really feeling this kinda of high fidelity macro footage shot DIY, and I got the opportunity to play on someone else’s dime commercially, and filed away 90% of the footage.

I’ve maintained a long-distance relationship with David [Daniell] over the course of the last five years, and when he called and asked if I might be able to create some visual accompaniment to his latest release with Douglas McCombs, I was not only thrilled, but I knew exactly what I wanted to create with some things I’ve had in the archive. This was that perfect situation where I feel like David had a level of trust in my aesthetic, in addition to a loose approach toward the music to allow us to operate in a purely creative strata. I sent a proposal of what I was headed for, with an explanation of the intended result, and thankfully, everyone had a positive reraction.


What are the globules and floating bodies in this video comprised of?

Cow’s milk (as my son calls it), pepper, extra virgin olive oil, Alka-Seltzer, and food coloring. There might be more, but that’s most of what you’re seeing there.


How much experimentation was involved before you settled down on a mixture of materials, and was how difficult was it to decide between varying kinds of abstract images?

Dealing in the macro universe, an extremely wide variety of imagery will present itself in a relatively short amount of time. What is observed in the final piece is the result of two days worth of experimentation, overall, and this imagery presented itself as the most appropriate, if that makes sense.


The macro images are somewhat reminiscent of forays into space; was this parallel one that was considered?

Absolutely. While I was looking at what had been captured with the DP, David Merten of GHAVA, he called attention to the process by which segments of 2001: A Space Odyssey had been shot, and that’s definitely an area I was aiming for.


Do you have a favorite segment of images in this video? If so, what time does that occur, and what do you find most appealing about it?

Yes. The end of this video is by far my favorite segment. This segment has the most narrative quality in this abstract visualization. For me, this represents a particular thought that I’ve had knocking around in my mind since I can remember being alive.



Written by
Vivian Hua 華婷婷

Vivian Hua 華婷婷 is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer. As the Executive Director of Northwest Film Forum in Seattle and Editor-in-Chief of the interdisciplinary arts publication, REDEFINE, much of her work unifies her metaphysical interests with her belief that art can positively transform the self and society. She regularly shares human-centered stories through her storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE! In 2020, she will [hopefully] begin production on a comedic Asian-American series entitled Reckless Spirits.

Ask Vivian about MARSHMALLOWS, cuz she's gross... and being tips for being frugal while nomading!

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