It is fascinating and stimulating when musicians, graphic designers and animators come together to produce cutting-edge, provocative visuals and short films that entrance and blow away your senses. Such is the case with the stunning, new music video for "Monkey", a track from the long-awaited album, I AM, from experimental-electronic musical project Geniuser. The song is eerily, yet magically brought to life in a short stop-motion film created by award-winning siblings Line and Martin Andersen of Andersen M Studio, featuring hand-painted brushwork lyrics from iconic graphic designer Chris Bigg (4AD, v23). London-based Martin and Line Andersen work across a variety of creative practices, including art direction, graphic design, photography, animation, film and music. They have won numerous awards for their animation work including two Gold Lions at Cannes. If you're a fan of The Breeders, then you might already recognize that Martin and Chris created the artwork for the band's latest album (All Nerve), and directed the music video for "Wait in the Car".
Geniuser is the latest musical project from Mick Allen (formerly of The Wolfgang Press, MASS, Rema-Rema) and Giuseppe de Bellis. If you are a fan of any of Mick's previous work (in particular, early-period The Wolfgang Press), you should run (not walk) and buy the outstanding I AM album. I've been longing to hear the final product ever since the band launched their PledgeMusic campaign earlier this year to kick off the project, and it has been well worth the wait.
GENIUSER "MONKEY" (Official Music Video)
For this blog post, Martin Andersen was kind enough to provide some incredibly insightful and detailed background about the video, along with stills and 'making of' pictures. In addition, Geniuser's Mick Allen explained the origin of the song itself.
Martin elaborates on the origin and creative process surrounding the "Monkey" video: "We wanted to make a non-linear film where one would encounter little glimpses of a mad sexually-charged, trippy world full of different seedy characters and 'pumping' industrial machinery. A world where things constantly transform." He adds, "We deliberately didn't make a storyboard and worked in scenes and actions rather than having a linear story line. We have both worked on numerous commercials before and everything normally has to be set 100% in stone before you start shooting. We loved having the freedom to just make stuff up as we went along." And if you're wondering how long it took to make the video, Martin tells us, "It was obviously a time consuming effort and the video took us about two months to shoot and edit, but we had so much fun doing it!"
One of the most incredible things about this video is that it's entirely handmade out of found materials such as driftwood and general scrap found on the street. Martin notes, "We decided to make the world and characters mainly using found scrap materials. We wanted everything to be loose and abstract, with no detailed definitions. There is something more scary about things you can’t quite make up."
'MAKING OF' PHOTOS (courtesy of Andersen M Studio)
There's even a handmade, unique aspect to the typographic brushwork that appears in the music video. Martin relates, "Everything was handmade without computers and the lyrics were painted by Chris Bigg who also designed the I AM artwork."
As for the song itself, the lyrics are bold and not for the faint of heart. But what's the origin of the song? Geniuser's Mick Allen reveals: "'Monkey' started off as a Frankenstein-like experiment to see if we could make our own version of a Kanye West track, 'Black Skinhead', which he had clearly taken from the Gary Glitter track, 'Rock and Roll (Parts 1 & 2),' but I also secretly hoped that KW had also listened to The Falls ‘Big Prinz’ - a tale of self-righteousness, validated by drugs, hallucinations and violence."
Finally, we present you with a few deeper insights from Martin regarding aspects of the 'visual world' in the 'Monkey' short film:
The egg is like the seed which is a symbol of the potential of life, but also symbolizes resurrection and immortality.
'Dancing Mick', the coconut-faced dancing character, was partly inspired by Mick’s dance moves while in The Wolfgang Press, but also shows the other side of drug-infused madness.
The Pumping Machinery are obviously all quite phallic, sexually-charged, but also unclean and dirty.
The crooked Bird-like character is the transition into the more trippy part – poking its long beak into things while getting groped by hands.
The inverted-clown like character, or 'The Preacher' as we called him, claps along to the track while preaching. He suddenly burns up and becomes an angry rambling skeleton. (The shadow of the clapping machinery in between is the inside of the Monkey–Skeleton that features throughout the video).
A massive thanks to both Martin Andersen and Mick Allen for providing the detailed, insightful commentary around this outstanding Geniuser track and incredible animated short film!
For more information about Andersen M Studio, Geniuser, and Chris Bigg, explore the following links: