Avola – “Cave Rave” Music Video
First off, I love this video so much because of the many worlds it seems to unravel within it and the many tiny details one can glean from it viewing after viewing. I feel like watching it 10,000 times on repeat. How did you all come to conceptualize the piece?
Michelle McKay (Video Artist): Thank you. Haha, well, it currently has 31 views on Vimeo, so please get those numbers up. This piece came about for me because I was in the mood to make a video after a long hiatus. I have a real love-hate relationship with video art. It’s always a tedious process for me at first, but once I get into the project, I begin to love it. I stan Avola so I offered, and Vern happened to be making a new album, Psykor, so it just worked out. Vern is this amazing god-tier musician/creator who is also so incredibly supportive of other artists, so this was a dream collaboration for me.
I picked the track “Cave Rave” because it’s so spatially interesting; it has a dramatic build and a cinematic quality that activates my imagination. I knew that I wanted to try something with AI, [so] we talked about that, and I also wanted to make sure that I was using AI in an intentional way that worked, and not just using the technology for technology’s sake.
Veronica Avola (Musician): So… I have been following Michelle’s work for quite some time, and am a mega fan of her video work and music! (*Vern’s Shameless Plug Alert* CHECK OUT “PERSONALITY TEST,” a duo with Natasha Henton). When Michelle offered to make video magic for my music my heart fluttered! As soon as I finished my album, Psykor, I sent the tunes, asked her to pick out whichever song she wanted, and fully encouraged her to make whatever she envisioned, because everything she does is so damn cool.
How did you come to collaborate together on the piece, and what is your creative workflow like?
Michelle McKay (Video Artist): I thought our creative workflow was ideal because I had a really inspiring, textured, ambient piece of music to respond to and the creative freedom to just follow my instincts and experiment. Vern said something like, “You can make it as weird as you want” or something to that effect, lol, and let the music speak for itself and trusted that I would come up with something.
Veronica Avola (Musician): I knew that I could trust that whatever came out would be incredible. I just wanted Michelle to let her freak flag fly.
Faces shifting through many moods are a recurring motif throughout the piece, starting with the mood-picker board from the very beginning. How did you all settle on that as a focal point and why?
Michelle McKay (Video Artist): I thought the idea of the creepy stock photo witch hands administering the pain scale was just a funny visual. I have a demented sense of humor. That, the Virgin Mary Geocities .gif collage, the AI sequence, and the clouds were the visual focal points for me, and I was thinking in terms of making everything visually fluid. I had a narrative in mind but didn’t want it to be too obvious or forced.
I wanted the AI part to look ephemeral and organic, like an extension of the clouds, and messed around with the settings to get that look. Everything was post-processed using a program called Flowframe, which smoothes out transitions and gives it that morphing effect.
Veronica Avola (Musician): I wasn’t part of the process as Michelle was working. Mostly I would check in very occasionally, and she would send screenshots of wild stuff, and I would say things like “WOWOWOW.” I have to say, when I was watching this video, I felt like when Michelle heard the music, a portal opened up, and she was able to see into my mind, and then figured out how to visualize my subconscious. I think the first thing that came out of my mouth while I was watching the finished video with my partner was, “I FEEL SO SEEN RIGHT NOW.”
The pace of the visuals flows extremely well with the slow progression of the track. Was there any particular approach you took to ensuring that the flow felt appropriate to the vibe of the track?
Michelle McKay (Video Artist): I used the ACG player on my PC to visualize the audio for “Cave Rave.” It generates lo-fi 00’s screensaver-esque audio reactive visuals. I screen recorded that, edited it, and used that as the base input video for the AI sequence in Stable Diffusion. Since the input video was responding to the audio, the final result appears to be in sync with the music, but it’s sorta subtle because it’s been processed through AI.
Here are some pics of the process because I can’t even understand what I just said:
Is there anything else you would like to add? Any interesting anecdotes or tidbits? (I’m sure you have many!)
Michelle McKay (Video Artist): It took about 2 weeks of around the clock rendering to generate the AI parts. AI is truly terrifying and fascinating at the same time. If you aren’t familiar with Loab, the AI demon, you should Google her… I was watching to see if she would turn up.