MGMT – Your Life Is A Lie Music Video + Interview w/ Director Tom Kuntz

In his second music video for MGMT, director Tom Kuntz — one of the geniuses behind the classic “Tokyo Breakfast” sketch — incorporates humor the way he knows best: by using a wide net of characters with endless bite-size appeal. Sun-baked hippies, suited businessmen, three-dimensionally-rendered babies and skeletons… and so randomly on… repetitively hammer home MGMT’s message that “Your life is a lie”, in the most colorful way possible.

MGMT – “Your Life Is A Lie” Music Video


How did you come to collaborate with MGMT? How closely did you work together on brainstorming and executing ideas?</span

I made a video for them a couple of years ago. When they started thinking about videos for this new record, they sent me the songs to ponder. At first, my schedule proved to be too difficult, but then I had an opening so I sent an idea across and we got down to it!


MGMT seem to have a playfulness – and often, bright color palette or ordered chaos – that seems to extend throughout their music videos. Was keeping any kind of continuity with their previous works important?

I think it’s important to be mindful of a band’s existing voice when making something for them. But you also don’t want to be redundant. So it’s just about using your inner compass to try to find something that satisfies both these expectations.


I particularly love the visual cues that are set up with the repeating metal clink. Were these shots determined beforehand or were they chosen after the fact?

The original idea was to have a different visual moment for each cowbell, but I didn’t have time to shoot enough that were great, so I looked at the repeating idea when we were editing, which I ended up finding more interesting in the long run.


How much of the music video spontaneous versus story-boarded beforehand? How long was the process of filming and editing?

Just about everything, besides what I just mentioned, was mapped out. It had to be, because we needed an image for each line. That said, a few of the images were slightly repurposed for lines that they were not originally for. The “not knowing that” image of the guy stumbling in the street was originally going to be used in the first musical breakdown, but then I tried the fax machine there and it made me laughm so we ended up repurposing that shot. There were a few other ideas that didn’t make it into the video as well. I dressed up like a scarecrow and played the drums for one line and it just looked awful, so we scrapped that.


What are your three favorite images from the music video?

Hmmm. The banana-eating guy. The guy waiting to die. And maybe Andrew on the beach with all the scuba divers. But really, I can’t pick just three. The smiling fetus is pretty magical.


After working on this project, what now comes to mind when you hear the words, “Your life is a lie.”?

This video?


Tom Kuntz – Tokyo Breakfast



Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) 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.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

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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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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