The 1980s: that decade of shoulder pads and deindustrialization, was to be a decade of neon-coloured clothing, big hair and financial big bangs; a decade when Frankie Goes to Hollywood said "Relax", and David Bohm proffered that space and time were no longer the dominant...

Stemming from a road trip director AJ Rojas took that spanned over a dozen states, the music video for Portugal. The Man's "Modern Jesus" is purposely treated to alternate between hi-def and lo-fi, as is paralleling the fascination which can be found in middle America's often gritty underbelly. A cast of memorable characters appear to leave indelible marks upon one's brain in "Modern Jesus": a grandpa dancing in a farm-like setting; bloody youth wrestling one another atop barbed wire; overweight and wheelchair-bound individuals repping the same taser-owning crew; the list goes on. This fascinating sociological portrait seems to serve as a reminder real life is often more interesting than fiction -- and that embarking on a creative journey without a plan can often lead to brilliantly unraveling realities. In the featured interview, Portugal. The Man's bassist and back-up vocalist Zach Carothers speaks to his love for music videos, on working with friends, and on occasionally skirting record label rules to follow your own creative impulses.
"I have wanted to work with AG since our friend, Michael Ragen, introduced me to his work with Earl Sweatshirt a few years ago. He has an eye for the things that happen below surface, in bedrooms, in the streets and in our schools and captures it without prejudice. AG has a vision and it doesn't matter if you think the video could use more of John running because, in the end, he knows what he wants and always makes the right decision. A true artist." - John Gourley, Vocalist of Portugal. The Man

 

Moderat, the collaboration between German musicians Modeselektor and Apparat, have returned with this music video by their long-time collaborators, the design collective Pfadfinderei [ fɑ:d'fɪndɜ:raɪ ]. Constantly marching ahead in warp-speed fashion, the "Bad Kingdom" music video mixes and matches a series of blue-lined illustrations that unfold to tell the tale of mankind's cruelty and helplessness -- all the while intending to challenge existing social and political structures. In the Q&A below, the design collective details their experience working on this music video, and we review some of their other works.

 

According to modern day magickians like Alan Moore, "Art is magick, because art transforms consciousness". By that definition, some of the world's greatest mystics don't ever actually identify themselves as such. In my world, Robert Pollard is probably the most potent of these closet sorcerers, unassumingly churning out tune after tune ad infinitum from his hometown of Dayton, Ohio. It's an unending supernova. No single rock musician has pushed the boundaries of the human imagination in quite the same way as the guy, who will most likely go down as the single greatest songwriter in human history (or by definition of taste, the most prolific at the very least; he's already kind of got that cornered).
The story of how I got into Pollard's (now reunited) Guided By Voices is a strange one, and as with everything regarding my youth, drenched in debauched sonic witchery. When GBV's absolute classic Bee Thousand finally brought national attention to the then almost entirely unknown band in the mid '90s (mainly due to the efforts of Matador Records), I bought a copy. Truthfully, I didn't like it that much after a few listens. I even most bizarrely remember driving around with my dad at one point and him mentioning that he heard a segment about them and their supposed "indie rock" on NPR and was curious. I put it on. Neither one of us got it. And that's sort of the thing you have to point out to GBV detractors. Even though I have nearly 40 Pollard-related releases at this point, I still don't like any of them until run through number four at least. None of it makes sense at all when it first hits me. I have absolutely no idea how he does this, but it's the sort of thing that's going to confuse the shit out of critics, myself included, especially in the information age.
 

The Octopus Project have always been lofty with their artistic vision, as we learned when they first told us about their 8-projector, surround-sound performances. It's no wonder, then, that the often overly hoaky art of stop-motion animation finds good articulation in their hands. Indeed, they actually created the music video themselves -- "a product of the The Octopus Project's collective consciousness", according to Peekaboo Records. Thanks to clever editing tricks galore, adorable geometric shapes float across indoor and outdoor environments, tickling the eyeballs with their ever-throbbing movements. According to the record label: "Created, shot and directed by the band, the stop-motion extravaganza was crafted entirely using die-cut colored card stock. Band members meticulously designed each shape in Photoshop then used a cutting machine generally reserved for scrapbooking to cut them out before photographing them in real world settings. The final video consists of over 4,000 separate images." In the full post, The Octopus Project's Josh Lambert answers a few questions about their artistic practice.
 

Efterklang's latest album, Piramida, is more than just an exercise in songwriting; it is an attempt to connect the creation of an album with a specific location. The site where the band chose to record is a veritable ghost town, an abandoned coal-mining colony still controlled by the Russian company that left it behind in 1998. Situated between the Arctic Circle and the North Pole, the place is empty, bitter cold, and only reachable by boat. Piramida shares its name with this strange place, and the eerie and wonderful sounds collected there ultimately comprised the album's distinctive structural elements.
"You can for sure say that the context directs the music in a certain direction. Songs written on guitars come out different than songs written on pianos. A ghost town is quiet and a perfect place to make recordings. It is a brilliant setting for recording sound." - Rasmus Stolbreg of Efterklang
 

In the music video for Strangefruit's "Sea of Fog", husband-wife duo Laura Clarke and Matthew Oaten weave together visual cues from David Lynch, Lars Von Trier, and Mikhail Bahktin, as well as incorporating themes of sexuality and visceral natures. The result is a morbid, eye-catching and initially misleading feast of fools. We spoke with both the video artists and the band below, on the process of shooting the music video, as well as its deeper philosophical context.

Strangefruit (Musician)

"Ghosts" and "Tell Me" come from Strangefruit's debut EP, Between The Earth and Sea, which is out now. "Tell Me" was recorded and produced at Abbey Road with Greg Wells (Adele/Rufus Wainwright/Pharrell Williams/Katy Perry), and "Ghosts" was produced by (The Killers, Goldfrapp, White Lies). Stream both tracks below.   "Ghosts" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Strangefruit-Ghosts.mp3|titles=Strangefruit -- Ghosts] "Tell Me" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Strangefruit-Tell-Me-Abby-Road.mp3|titles=Strangefruit -- Tell Me (Abbey Road Version)]

Laura Clarke (Director) & Matthew Oaten (DoP)

Laura Clarke: "Matthew and I have collaborated on several films over the years, but the film I am most proud of to date is a film I made in 2010 called Punctum. Punctum has been screened all over the world, most recently the Brighton Fringe Festival, but also the Young persons Moscow Biennale, the London Short Film Festival and a show called Screen in Barcelona. It follows a young girl's journey from innocence to experience, exploring the liminal space of puberty."

Strangefruit -- "Sea of Fog" Music Video

Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the music video.
"The original concept was that the music video would become almost like an art film. Something powerful, dramatic and theatrical, drawing on my research into psychoanalytical theories revolving around the origins of desire, sexuality and power. Exploring gender roles, the uncanny, the macabre, and Freudian theories of death and sex. I loved the idea of a banqueting table that looked opulent and decadent at first glance, and then upon closer inspection, was a decaying, rotting mess. The vulnerable, naked woman in the center of the feast, being devoured not only by the men, but by women too. The idea being that a feast is always a precursor to either death, violence or sex." - Laura Clarke
 

As far as I'm concerned, pop music is the most exciting frontier for musical innovation. From the mainstream radio-friendly mash-ups of Beyonce, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber down to your favorite neighborhood indie pop band or danceable electronic act, pop music is encompassing of a wide world of sounds, full of ground-breaking firsts. Yet it's safe to say that in the current indie music climate, with its constant breaking and building of narrow-minded subgenres like dream pop, vaporwave, chillwave, and the like, oversaturation often leads to myriad bands which sound more or less identical. Of these, most lack a truly distinguishing spark that makes them stand out. Which is why I get really excited upon the discovery of pop bands who don't easily fit in anywhere, and are able to -- if not reinvent it -- at least give the wheel a furious and energetic spin. My latest and greatest finding lies in Royal Canoe, a group of musicians from the uncommon birthing ground of Winnipeg, Canada. While undoubtedly considered "indie pop" by any wide-casting use of the term, Royal Canoe aren't actually easy to define, especially with non-abstract terminologies. With two drummers, two keyboardists, and four vocalists, the six-member band is kind of all over the place stylistically -- yet somehow, it just works. Royal Canoe Band Interview After talking to Royal Canoe's vocalist and guitarist Matt Peters, I came to realize that what sets Royal Canoe apart from other indie pop bands is not exactly the genre tags they fall under -- of which there are many -- but their fascinating communal character. For a pop band, they are remarkably tenacious. They make a point of having extremely high standards for creation and performance, in service of being the best musicians they can be. Any self-imposed rules they have set for themselves are balanced by a willingness to share artistic duties, as well as an openness to inspiration and experimentation.
"I think everyone definitely has an appreciation for letting their voice be heard but also trying to reach a greater good..." -- Matt Peters

 

At certain times in the lives of those who listen, dreams, both in wake and at rest, can serve as a rich breeding ground of inspiration. Tapping into our subconscious can bring about flurries of sonic or visual cues from which to further develop ideas, and for artist-musicians like Christelle Gualdi of the solo electronic project Stellar OM Source, such a practice might even be the initial spark of a music video to a song you'd written. In describing the vision in her mind's eye, Gualdi explains:
"While waking up one morning, an image of a Japanese girl dressed in a kimono and walking along the edge of a swimming pool surrounded by fog appeared to me. This image became the inspiration point for "Polarity". I developed the abstract narrative arc from this conscious dreaming: the women, the kimonos, the water choreography and the reflective play of light. "As we shot, the pieces fell right into place. The set felt like an animated fashion shoot, exaggerated details in the exchange between the beautiful women of the water. A feel of mystery and expectation initiates the sequences. I needed a central character to direct the energy flow, and the girl in blue face became this. When she submerges underwater, we understand her role. The flashbacks explain more before the ballet begins. The object of their dance is revealed in the end: polarity as an exchange of beauty."
Gualdi's physical interpretation of this vision utilizes underwater cameras and minimal but rich abstractions, as if to capture the qualities of the subconscious in symbolic form. In the Q&A below, she further expands on this music video, both with regards to its concept, inspiration, and execution.