Yesterday, The Creators Project premiered the full, interactive video for Queens Of The Stone Age's "The Vampyre of Time And Memory" that can be explored at http://vampyreoftimeandmemory.com, along with a Director's Cut. The epic, surreal piece is a tour de force, calling attention to the possibilities of what many music videos may look like in the future.
The HTML5-enabled project was directed by Kii Arens and Jason Trucco, with design help from Darknet, and produced by The Creators Project. The directors have worked with the band in the past, as Arens has made a handful of tour posters and other illustrations for the Queens, and frontman, Josh Homme, even made a cameo in the duo's video for Glenn Cambell's "Ghost On The Canvas."
The directors offer a behind the scenes look at the making of the video (above), and talked with The Creators Project about why this video is next-level. The Queens Of The Stone Age are pretty much rock icons at this point, and Arens punctuates that thought when he said, "Long live the Queens!"
The Creators Project: The other videos you've made together often mix various art forms and media, like the shots of the paint in your video for Glenn Cambell's "Ghost On The Canvas." But this interactive video is a more intense mixing. How did an interactive video limit or expand your creativity? What was the most complicated part of the video's creation?
Kii Arens: In today's tech landscape, if you can dream it, you can do it. But the question is, do you have the time to commit to it? Because getting it right is a bitch.
My favorite part making the video was watching my father create the device that opens and closes the piano/tiger's mouth with the greatest of ease. Two rubber balls, surgical tubing and a tire pump. Nothing better then a creative solution that works. Took him only 30 minutes. The hardest part of the video was editing four final cuts! My eyes just fell out.
Jason Trucco: An interactive video is an exciting project to work on because there are few comparables. Nobody knows what it's going to look like when we're done. We're working on the medium and the message at the same time.
What sets this interactive music video apart from others? What do you think makes this one special?
Kii Arens: The performance of the band was key here. Joshua [Homme] really killed it. He needed no direction what so ever. Stud. What makes this special? For me it's the passion for a band you believe in. Rock and Roll that isn't rehashed or retro. It's alive and well in the Queens. The lyrics are real and so are the experiences.
Jason Trucco: Projects like this allow us to change a person's ideas about what a music video can be.
I believe that this video is the ultimate portal into the band's psyche. Do you agree, and if so, what makes this true or not true? What makes this video a culmination or grand statement about this band's identity?
Kii Arens: There's a strong path that lead to this video. The song is bare. It shows its exact self to you. Everything has seemed to naturally fall into its place. I think it's long overdue that Joshua is recognized as the one keeping rock aflame. He's so iconic and new all at once. The perfect combination for longevity. Long live the Queens!
Jason Trucco: With each band that we work with, the challenge is to create an appropriate vocabulary. Music videos are about both the stories themselves and the storytellers. A band's identity is a person's gut feeling about that band.
Your video work together often takes a theme from the song--in Devo's case the lyrics, in Glen Cambell's case the song title--and uses it as a spring board for a music video narrative. Besides the title of " The Vampyre of Time and Memory" what parts of the song or album influenced the content of this video?
Kii Arens: "Vampyre" is such a thick track… as is the whole album. We wanted to treat the visuals with the same respect the album. Joshua told me to forget about the lyrics and make art and show no signs of sunlight. He gave us all the freedom in the world. Amazing.
We we're just obsessed with dead animal props. Bishcoffs Taxidermy in Burbank has always been a mainstay for our work, even back to the three-headed vulture I had them make for Them Crooked Vultures. I've always admired Queens' underground, take no sh*t from no one attitude. That is what allows me to fly the evil freak flag as high as I can and get rewarded for such. Best job in the world. Tough to call it work when you get to operate this way.
Jason Trucco: "The Vampyre Of Time And Memory" isn't a case of "all we have here is a good title." This is a great song--a song that's meaningful to a person because she finds something that sounds true and personal in it. Josh's performance in this video is one of the really great ones.
Your work with QOTSA often involves themes like devilry, dark arts, skeletons, the occult, and more. How do you research these themes and where do the themes' influences come from?
Kii Arens: My research comes from my childhood inclination to push peoples' buttons. Seeing that Sabbath Bloody Sabbath poster on my older brothers wall was such an imprinting moment in my life. I'm like… That's hell? It scares the shit out of me and turns me on at the same time.
Ever since I can remember, I've enjoyed taking on a band's sound and converting it to its proper look. All from the gut.
Kii, you have made artwork for many artists spanning several genres, including Depeche Mode, Tony Bennett and Beyonce. How do you approach an artist as an individual and create unique work that captures their vibe or essence? Do you talk to the artists and collaborate, or do you usually have an idea in mind before starting a project?
Kii Arens: Usually I try to pin down their crowning moment or feel in a print i design. I think… What do I want on my wall? Then I make it. If I follow my gut the first design wins 9 out of 10 times. Sometimes an artist will hit me with an original design. But I preferred to be left alone on that one. On the other side of the coin, if a bass player or a drummer starts flexing their design muscles, the project is doomed.
Jason Trucco: All art is technology. Yes, even paint is a technology. And adding interactivity into the legacy of picture making allows artists to create works that are dialogues with a person, instead of monologues.
Tools such as 3D and HTML5 certainly bring new opportunities to music videos. And, more than that, music videos brings opportunities to use new tools in creative ways.
If the story of Modern Art is a story about bringing the picture plane closer to the surface of the canvas, interactivity brings the picture plane so close that it's off the canvas, enveloping the viewer, and it invites a person into the story. As Yogi Berra says, "The Future ain't what it used to be."
See the Director's Cut below, and take another look at the interactive version here: vampyreoftimeandmemory.com