THUMP are pleased to bring you the exclusive premiere of 'Peppermint', the latest track from Julio Bashmore, featuring vocals from South London star Jessie Ware. "Peppermint" is taken from Bashmore's forthcoming debut album, due for release this year on his own Broadwalk Records.
Directed by Noah Harris, the riotous animation display sets off Bashmore's rich production to playful effect. To mark the premiere, we caught up with the director Noah for a chat about the video, and how his animation was inspired by the evolution of house.
THUMP: How would you describe the overall concept of the video?
Noah Harris: If you want the intellectual answer, it's about evolution. House music is usually built around samples and loops. "Peppermint" is built around a sample of Karen Young, but re-recorded with Jessie Ware. The track itself evolves, but always around the same elements. Visually, this film does the same. It starts with a piece of graphic design, rigidly animated to the track, and this then evolves into three dimensions; the amoeba becoming a sentient graphic form, a constant process of evolution around the same visual themes. Of course, the manipulative, God-like figure embodied in a pair of floating hands in the film—hands in the air anyone?—is pretty indicative of the human condition too. If you want the base answer, it's about sex, drugs, and the all powerful church of rave.
I understand a magician never reveals his tricks, but what kind of techniques did you use for the video? It seems that theres a lot of different elements in play here, but it flows quite naturally too.
Noah Harris: You've nailed something quite important to me there: that whole “revealing tricks” thing. I am quite opposed to the concept of “Making Of's” and behind-the-scenes footage. I understand that it's interesting for people to see how you make stuff, but it takes away some of the mystery and magic. This is an enigmatic film, and I like it that way. I use multiple techniques to achieve the look I want and the important thing to the viewer is the end result, not the process.
This film was arduous to make. 90% of the film is shot in-camera. We used a lot of 3D printing and model making. The base technique in the film is stop-frame animation. I use stop-frame in a very precise and technical way. I love it when people think my work is CGI when actually it's all been painstakingly animated by hand. I'm happy for them to think that, though. It means we've done an amazing job. I love the fact that the film is a perfect sparring partner to the track. Although the approach to making the film was extremely graphic and disciplined, the technique means it feels human. There are imperfections. It has an organic quality.
What elements of "Peppermint" did you pull from most?
Noah Harris: The whole concept of the film is based around each element of the track being visualised in its own distinct way, so you start out with graphic shapes, each designed to visually reference a specific sound, then they evolve... You have gold aeroplanes perfectly synced to the breathy hi-hat sound, an amorphous black diamond synced to a synth, a bouncing ball as the kick drum, the big synth riff becomes lightning strikes in thunderclouds, the over-riding clap track is the overlord. I mean, I'm old-school rave. I bought my first house 12" in '91 and never looked back. It seemed a prescient decision to ask me to make this film. It's like the old and new house mafia coming together; me stomping about in fields of mud to heavy bass 20 years ago, and Julio re-interpreting and presenting that music again in a new way.
What other visual and sonic cues did you pull from?
Noah Harris: I'm a graphic designer at heart and I think its clear this film comes out of that. I designed the whole film as a piece of 2D artwork, before starting to move into 3D and model making. My original treatment had Jeff Koons as a strong cognitive reference. I love that whole brash, expensive, glitzy pop style with a surreal sleazy edge. Aside from Koons, I think a lot of the visual cues in here were subconscious references. Looking at the finished piece, I see a lot of influence from Jean-Paul Goude's iconic Grace Jones photography, through Harryhausen, religious iconography, and even numerous sci-fi films. It's a strange mix, but it kind of works.
It's nice to see animated music videos more recently. It's really playful and entertaining to watch. Was that something you were conscious of in the making of it?
Noah Harris: Oh yeah, for sure. The track has a strong vibe. It's classic house in that sense. I wanted to make something that not only matched that vibe, but was insane to watch and looked like nothing else. I love making work that is so detailed you almost have to scrub through it, frame by frame, to get every element going on in the film. This film feels like an out-pouring of my brain, all my influences and references that have been storing up. I have always been obsessed with the notion of juxtaposition, and this film feels like a culmination of that.
You can pre-order Julio Bashmore "Peppermint" on iTunes here.