Sunday, March 25, 2007

Commune Cult Conquer The World : A Conversation w/ Jason Groves of Shynola

"That film is terrible..." kata Jason.
"I mean, it should be a film. "

diagram 1:
1. Invitation card for Antenna UK 04. Sunitha ask me to cover Eclectic Method, a VJ trio who did this mix-mash video that I think evry interesting. She want to have me an interview before their workshop on Sunday, unfortunately my mag work, the deadline is deader than dead, and I couldn't help it.
2. Jason Groves during a speech at Antenna UK nite show @ Maison, KL. Kalau anda ke sana malam tu, you'll see a behind-the-scene video of QOTSA mtv - "Go With The Flow". There's an actual stripper, convert to black-white-red, Sin City style.
3. A collection of cards, a giveaway at Antenna, nicely packed in brownish envelope. I love this pack.
4. Antenna t shirt. Also free giveaway.
5. Man, I look so tired. Jason probably know, as his mate, Chris wrote it, a nightmare. Jason and yours truly at afternoon conversation, Rennaisance lobby.


That's me and Jason Groves, one fourth of Shynola, team of music video directors, work ranging from Queens of the Stone Age's "Go With The Flow", Blur's "Crazy Beat" & "Good Song", Radiohead's "Pyramid Song", Junior Senior's "Move Your Feet", UNKLE's "Guns Blazing" & "An Eye For An Eye ", ... and many. They helped Hammer & Tong with some visual effect in their debut movie appearance, "Hitchhiker Guide To The Galaxy".

And if you ask me, what film that is so terrible as we talk, .... itu filem Dave McKean, Mirrormask. Sorry to Dave (or Gaiman) fans. Sometimes it's so true. hah!

Previously, few weeks back, I got this email that was sent frequently by JUICE mag, that British Council will had this Antenna UK 04 show on March 17 at Maison, KL. And they will bring together Jason Groves from Shynola. I said it was cool. At least VJ culture thing is not as vomitting as club culture. Then, something hit me. I might write something in my art of music video space i had in the magazine, after months got beaten by writer's block. No, it's not a writer's block. But, they cut my space to half, when I want to talk alot. Giving me half, means everything that is interesting to write about got to shrink. But that Blur or Radiohead or Rapture videos deserve not just half page. If only I had an interview with Jason, then my editor will say "Great! Make it 2 page!" So, as soon as my deadline got deader, I write to Jason, w/o too much hope that Jason will answer it. Because looking at their website, it's like they're not working their ass on it. They might be busy, or travel alot. Or work alot for their full lenght movie in 2009. Karma play a funny thing. I got reply from Jason: "Nice to hear from you. They will have me an interview session morning before the show. You can contact Sunitha from British Council for this matter, or else, you can meet me after the show. Or I just answer your question by email if you can't make it."

Then, I write to Sunitha, the arts manager at BC. Sooner I realize, my human form become weaken by the loadsofwork. I can't handle my email. All I can do is read. I think Chris Harding from Shynola has said something about this experience as 'nightmare', ... bad food, weird working hours.

I got 2 phone calls from BC (one from Sunitha, I swear I heard this Brit woman in her late 30's that sounds 'loaded'.) "Are you going?" Of course I will, be prepare to see me show up in my most unlikely human figure. Sunitha and BC actually never heard about magazine I worked with, probably due to nature of the language we used. But my intention is good. :)

So, I made it at 11 something in the morning. Late actually, but it's good, I give more time and space for this chinese who still want to talk alot with Jason. Sunitha, unlike her full name that is very traditional to her Indian root, didn't look like Indian, not even sound like it. She's in 20's, approachable, nice lady. Oh, yeah, we talk about Tool. My interview with Jason was set in the lobby of Rennaisance hotel, across MTC. I supposed to have Apis, my journalist friend with me, so that I'm not dead... in what i'm going to ask to Jason. but then i'm not prepare a thing. no questions i wrote, no notes from this conversation i took. we're just talk freely about anything starting from Chris Cunnigham.

"Have you meet him?"
"I did. Once."
"Recently, he made a comeback."
"Oh, really?"
"Try watch The Horrors video - 'Sheena Is A Vampire' "

I don't know what move me to have an interview with Jason, talk about almost anything on music video (bukan music video dia je, ... almost anyone, everyone I know when I have my space to write about the art of MTV thing for magazine), but I guess it has to be past 5 years ago, masa aku baru balik ke Terengganu lepas 'hilang' like , a month. I mean that one month has fuel my fire, creative desire that has been blocked. That was dreamless era, as I wrote in my Kubang Parade's Journal year one, I almost got nothing to do in Terengganu. There's a sketch drawing, supposed to be my comic books storyboard, which this kid with a backpack, watch his left and right, and waiting to getaway from small cell. I mean it's a cell. I was in the cell. You got no source for reading digest, comic books, metal videos, .... your record player got broken and most of all, you got no money to buy more music and comic books or graphic tees. The worst, when you want to do something for art sake, you can't do shit. No one to work with. You got no motivation or inspiration. Mobility's off.

September 2001. Masa ni, less we read, but more we boast. So, I decide to, ... run away from home. Bad idea.

November 2001, lepas je balik rumah, the first music video I taped at home that I still like it so much this date, is the one that Shynola did for Radiohead, "Pyramid Song". And it's not their first work for Radiohead. So, I get along with my friends in music back, talk about the music video. "You should check this, it's not just about the song that Yorke sing." That moment, we still have this labor of love for tv, for it's crystal clear view, accesibility, .... and let's say, no YouTube. There is no YouTube. Unfortunately to have this kind of video sharing at the end of 2001, still cost you alot of MB damage. The YouTube thing , however is not a new thing for me. Back in 2002/3, when Macromedia Flash came up with version 6 and you can load your video, .... pain lesser, in about few MBs, I got this idea to put all these music videos collection, all in Flash file, so I dont have to live in misery. Plus, me and Kamal Masrun too working on music video, with Flash, ... it's a fundamental thing, and it's fun. I really wish I could do this again, ... for nothing.

YouTube too is one of many thing I talk with with Jason that evening, 17 March 07. "It's a good source to find all these videos you can never have. I only have Good Song and Move Your Feet up on our website, just because it cost a lot of bandwidth." Great, Jason, when you go back to UK dont forget to put that guitar playing kitten in Stephen Malkmus video.

Late 2003 is my first exposure to Res magazine. Unlike 'I want to kill my boredome so much that it hurts' era in 2001, let say this time I got good connectivity. Apart from IdN, Res is another music video source where I get into alot. A copy of Res mag that was sent to kampung late that year has this special feature on Resfest, a festival dedicated to all music video directors, anything in short motion visual direction. Few months later Resfest is also on the bill of IdN con (unfortunately, not in KL. Please cross the border, Singapore.) This is the moment of breathrough for Shynola when they came up with "Go With The Flow" music video for Queens of The Stone Age, that has been cited by critics as 'revolutionary'. If you watch A Scanner Darkly, a film by Richard Linklater that hired this Rotoscopic style animation, you must have seen it first in "Go With The Flow". I can't even tell a difference between live action and animation, but it's the band that actually act as a band in the video, not an animation.

Maybe reanimated.

But then, even before Frank Miller did Sin City as a full lenght movie, with it's 3 color style, Shynola did it first, with this "Go With the Flow" video. Shynola actually got their inspiration from Sin City comic books. What a turnaround.

diagram 2:
1. Beck as skeleton , losing his head in "E Pro" video.
2. Fly Boy fell in love with a squirell. Homosexuality. Twin tower. Blur's "Good Song".
3. Nintendo 8 bit got a new twist in Junior Senior 's "Move Your Feet".
4. Blur's "Crazy Beat" however is one of very few live action occasion from Shynola.
5. Guerilla marketting in Radiohead's blip. Year 2000. Very ahead of it's time.
6. Sin City fans, rejoice. QOTSA's "Go With The Flow".
7. Thom Yorke flood dream in Radiohead's "Pyramid Song".
8. Wardrum is very unusual in Hayao Miyazaki cinemafest. UNKLE's "Eye For An Eye".


I am amazed with that QOTSA video. maybe because i like it to look red. i brought Jason to Hayao Miyazaki territory, because that's how i felt on UNKLE's "Eye For An Eye" video (I watch this 'the making of Eye For An Eye video' at MTV or Channel [V], I cant remember which channel, during my college years circa 2002-2003, at some cafeteria. I was stunned at it. Yeah, I skipped class.) even the visual from Pyramid Song took me deep to this pyramid city down deep in the sea. Close to Antlantis city. Jason , however, during the conversation, is this one guy that's easy to get along with.

Sunitha, afterall noticed that i never wrote a thing during the conversation. "I write it, ... in my head." It's easy when you know the person and his/her works.

maybe that's why i wanted it today. that's why instead of having difficulty due to overloadsofwork, i still wanted it, this conversation, from zero, and end well.

"I'll try to get you Jamie Hewlett in the future..." said Sunitha.
"Oh, really? How about Stanley Donwood?" said I.
"Yeah, that's an idea too..."
"But if you ask me that has to be Peter Saville. He's a legend by now. Way before Vaughn Oliver. I want to see Unknown Pleasure in hi res."

Like I said before, we talk about Joshua Davis (co-incidetally, Tool), like there's never end.


Further reading:
"Of particular interest to those facinated by high minded nerds making pop culture
trash and calling it Art."
shynola: website obligation
The final screening of Antenna UK on 17 March @ Maison Club KL with special guests Jason Groves (of Shynola, the featured director at the first Antenna UK screening) and Eclectic Method.
"...all you need to know in life is the difference between shit and Shinola." Shynola on Wikipedia
Shynola @ The Directors Bureau
"Yes, I've just stopped having nightmares, so I feel ok to talk about it. "Chris Harding: CGI Society
Vis-Ed Shynola @ XLR8R
RES Features : Sound and Vision: Radiohead Reinvents the Music Video by Philip Sherburne
"Why animation?"
The Best Music in Film w/ Chris Harding (Shynola)

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