It’s not often these days we get videos for electronic music, a promo video accompanies every single released b a mainstream artist it’s a necessary to meet the demands of MTV play list, however a position on the MTV playist is not within the grasp (nor even is it desired) of today’s independents when it comes to electronic music so they are a rare occurance and invoke a more interesting premise than the commercial promo.
So the story goes at some point an idea came inspired by Monster X’s Werewolf Gangbang track the team set upon creating a ‘proper’ music video for it, it was released last Friday, again, via Rob Booth’s EE site so we got to talk to the two creators about the video’s inception, production and imagery.
null+void: You’ve both collaborated on in the past, how did you start working together? Gabriela: I met Derek at a Yardcore party in December 2008. In 2009, we became friends and Derek was interested in start experimenting with live projections. Our first collaboration happened in October 2009 when he invited me to do the visuals for Scorn, at a Plex Party in Corsica Studios. I was amazed when he told me he would sample all the material and give it to me so I could work on it the way I wanted. In between abyssmal underwater caves, scary sea creatures, octopuses, carps and abandoned industrial landscapes, I was an excited diver. I guess Derek was really the first person to understand what I seek when I prepare customized images for a set. After that we performed together in march 2010 on the launch of the Combat AV set, again with Derek giving me all the material to be worked with. But I will let him tell this part.
Derek: Yep it was at Yardcore, we have friends in common. It’s not a huge scene, the same faces pop up. Anyway, it was autumn and I had just come back from a gig in Latvia, inspired by a couple of really good VJs (Voitech & Gaffa) and keen on learning the visual element. I was also getting bored of just DJing and wanted more of a challenge, to try and combine sound and visuals in the same set. Gabi’s background is film directing and VJing, the opposite of where I was coming from. She was well into the music on Combat so we got talking and stayed in touch, trading skills and eventually gigging together for AV stuff.
How did you get the idea for the video and how did it come about?
D: It started from a drunken conversation in my kitchen around Christmas 2009. Julien (Monster X) had the Werewolf Gangbang EP coming out on TigerBeat6, so we decided to do a video for a laugh.
G: I was on holidays in Brazil when I received an email from Derek saying Julien would release an EP called Werewolf Gangbang and they had an idea for a video that would include basements, S&M, werewolves and kebab. The initial idea was a more simplistic, but as I entered the project I suggested a few additional scenes.
D: Gabi came on board, she’s the film expert and the project kind of snowballed. When she was back in London, we sat in the kitchen looping sections of the music over and over, writing down whatever images, moods or movement came to mind during specific sounds. An hour and a half later, there was a script! The video wrote itself from the music, literally.
The tricky thing was to find a girl who was happy to roll around in kebab meat, in a cold grotty basement wearing only bondage gear and a werewolf mask.
We had in mind a mate’s girlfriend, a professional climber who is quite an attractive girl and who happened to into various twisted stuff. But they broke up shortly after, so it was a no-go. By chance, I mentioned the video to a mate in the pub, who immediately volunteered his missus, and a couple of pints later her friend said “yes” too. So suddenly we had two attractive werewolves :)
What were each of your roles in the production of the video?
G: script, production, scenario, costume, direction, edit. Julian bought the masks.
D: Co-wrote the script, helped out on set and did the effects / post production. We both edited the video together, swapping back and forth over a few months on a hard drive.
n+v: There’s quite blatant deviant sexual themes in the video, what’s the significance of this?
D: The music is deviant and sexual, so the imagery has to be as well. Plus, I can’t honestly say we didn’t enjoy doing it :-) It’s not something we feel uncomfortable with. Gabi’s done a short films based on an S & M character, while Julien and I have a dark ambient A.V. project called Fausten (German for fisting). The imagery can be quite unsettling. The screen got switched off by a certain festival halfway during a performance in Europe last year :-) It was funny to see fake blood, bondage gear, devil masks, dog collars and leashes turning up in the post in the weeks leading up to the shoot.
G: Well, I am not sure S&M is still considered so deviant now a days. You can find outfits and paraphernalia easily available. It has come out of the underground and it feels mainstream now a days. Many of the sellout R’n’B divas wear them for millions of people in football stadiums, so in this sense I didn’t feel we were doing something so deviant. But the original idea didn’t include the final scene, where Master Combat releases the 2 werewolves and they attack Monster X, leading to a playfight threesome that ends on Monster X being “terminated” by Master Combat, who is also a woman. I needed to make sure they took revenge on the typical controlling macho behaviour that I can’t bear with…
What’s the kebab meat thing about?
G: I will leave it for Derek to clarify. I absolutely dislike kebab and I think Londoners would be healthier if 77% of the crap kebab shops were closed. I can just say during the shoot I felt bad for the girls, and after the shoot the kebab looked like some sort of nasty elastic plastic.
D: It’s from a running joke that you find all sorts of random stuff in the average London kebab: rats, pigeons, hair, mice, syringes, dead bodies. So getting werewolves in bondage to wrestle around on a bed of rancid kebab, it pushed all the right buttons on the wrongometer.
On the afternoon of the shoot I rode out to City Kebab and bought a £4 special. It was huge. Enough to spread on the floor for the final scene. It smelled really wrong by the evening. Fortunately the warehouse was being renovated for new tenants, so the whole room was getting scrubbed and painted over the next day. The kebab guy was really friendly and offered more chilli sauce though.
n+v: What do you think about promo videos today, there’s not that many made for electronica any more, why is this so? Why do you think they’re important?
G: I have to be honest; I lost interest on music videos as I think we are flooded with a lot of productions that are more about fashion buzz and trendy camera movements, rather than showing something new or exposing interesting ideas. I am also a bit suspect to give opinion on this because my favourite producers or musicians hardly ever get videos done. In general, I guess there is a link missing between the most cutting edge musicians and producers and the filmmaking world, which music wise (imo – again) is still very conservative. I love the joint production between the filmmaker Charles de Meyer and Amon Tobin for his track called Esther’s.
D: I wasn’t aware there’s fewer music videos today, but then I don’t really follow what’s going on. I’d have assumed it’s much easier to create promo videos now given the overlap between VJs and musicians. They complement each other. You can even jam with videos inside audio programs like Ableton and Serato. Since the 90’s, there’s been a huge shift away from traditional media outlets, powered b
y fast internet and sites like Youtube and Vimeo. I remember MTV back then had the same few electronic music videos on rotation. Some were nice, and it was exciting to hear bits of underground music on MTV but you had to put up with a lot of crap rock videos as well. Nowadays, music via broadband means people are not force-fed like they are with TV. You can type the name of your artist into youtube and somewhere, somebody has uploaded it, along with a still image of album artwork.
It’s an important format because, live performances aside, it’s also a very good way to push music. Sites like Youtube are Google searchable, and you can share links easily. Of course with technolgy being more accessible, you’ll get more rubbish videos but also some really good ones. With that many fans posting stuff anyway, artists might as well have a go doing it themselves. There’s tutorials all over the internet. You can get really good cameras for less now, and make stuff that would not have been possible in the 80’s / 90’s without a big budget.
n+v: How was this project different to your previous work?
G: Before this project I had shot my first short film, which was much more planned in terms of shots, and I directed only one actor that was fairly experienced.
D: I’m not really a “people person”, and so tend not to collaborate often. This video is unique in that it combines our different backgrounds, in Gabi’s case film and narrative, and audio / visual fuckery in my case. The video would have looked very different if either of us had done it solo. The common ground was having a warped sense of humour. Combined, we also had a bigger pool of time, energy, materials, gear and locations and helpers which certainly made a huge difference.
n+v: What technology did you use to create the film?
G: But I have to say I am not fond of the final look of the video, so I did my version of the cut.
n+v: Were there any new challenges you faced in making the film?
D: She had the toughest part on set managing everyone (about 8 people). It was a few missions getting the props on set, several journeys, plus our mate Kuba’s van got a parking fine.
G: I was directing three non-actors at once, myself doing that for the first time. Challenging, especially towards the last scenes, where the actors and crew were already tired and they had to bring a wide portion of wilderness and openness for it to happen. So I struggled a bit to try and get the performance out, but they were very patient and there was a level of excitement in the air that helped a lot. It was a friendly atmosphere. Derek was playing specific parts of the track so we could sync on the edit, and Julian was a good surprise as actor.
D: One of the conditions the girls had before filming was that we’d provide wine so they could get through the later scenes (it worked!). I think overall everyone worked together on set very well, no egos, no arguments, just had a laugh and got the job done. The werewolves’ boyfriends were on set enjoying the spectacle, and also helped out a lot with moving stuff round, lights and moral support.
n+v: What other visual projects are you working on? What can we look forward to?
G: I am about to go become a full time student for a year, so nothing really coming up. I have produced things in the past that have been kept quiet for years that will be set free on the net on the next few months. There is a film remix, a short documentary, a short film and a some av sets. I have a few short film scripts I would be happy to produce as well, but as a filmmaker I see a very long road ahead… lots to learn!
D: Gig-wise, I’m continuing to push Combat A.V. which travelled to Spain, Czech and Croatia last year, and will hopefully see more gigs and travels this year (promoters, hint :-). Speaking of travels, this summer’s big mission will be a motorbike ride around Norway. It’s linked with a music therapy charity. A couple of us are bringing along cameras and filming the bikes for 2 weeks as we sweep through the mountain passes and fjords. Once back in London, I’ll edit the footage into a video which can be downloaded for donations/charity. Music will come from myself and friends who want to contribute. I’ve been testing out a HD helmet camcorder and it’s working fine. Quite excited! Video-wise, I’ll make one for Anodyne, an artist who has just joined Combat Recordings. His music is really lush, with fierce, rolling old skool drum breaks, warm synths and dissonant atmospheres. And Julien and I will continue to experiment with Fausten, which is like the dodgy uncle in the Combat A.V. family of projects :) There’s always room for dark ambience and shocking visuals.