Behind The Twisted Tale Of Miike Snow's Jean Noel Music Video Trilogy [Q&A With Director Andreas Nilsson]
The director gives us details on the conception of this insane character and his misadventures through space.
Miike Snow have had some fairly bonkers narrative videos, like the tale of the robotic one-man studio band in “Black & Blue” and the somehow zombie-free post-apocalyptic world of “Silvia.” But no video was more dreamishly outrageous than “Paddling Out.” The surreal, film-like narrative follows a man with serious dancing skills who is abducted by aliens that look like Victorian fop children (white wigs and all) and transformed via surgery into a “perfect specimen” named Jean Noel. In the video’s world, perfection looks like a shirtless muppet man in opera gloves.
This comes from the minds of the band and director Andreas Nilsson, who has made a massive amount of videos in the past decade for bands like The Knife, Depeche Mode, Moby, Röyksopp, and tons more notables. But his tale of Jean Noel is the only one that turned into a trilogy. Following Jean Noel’s escape at the end of “Paddling Out,” the story picks back up in Nilsson’s next video for the band, “The Wave.” Here, we see Jean Noel return to earth and try to find home amidst a big police cover-up of an aftermath that has left scores of children dead. Sounds morbid, yes, but the way it actually plays out is not so dire. That’s just Nilsson’s sense of humor at play.
For the latest installment in the Jean Noel series, Nilsson handed off directing responsibilities to director Vern Moen, who took Nilsson’s basic concept for the next chapter in the story and ran with it. The video for “Pretender” will premier on our sister site Noisey on Monday.
We decided to step inside Nilsson’s brain and poke around a little bit to find out where this visual insanity rose from. You’ll learn quickly from his responses that he is one interesting guy.
The Creators Project: For a random start, is it a coincidence that the three-legged dog from the “Rabbit” video looks almost identical to the one on the cover of Alice In Chains’ self-titled album?
Andreas Nilsson: I also thought of that cover when I met this fucked up dog. But the reason I used him was that he lived in the house that we were shooting and he had to be taken outside when we were there. He had a grand mental disorder and had killed five other dogs in fights. He lost his leg in a fight because his owner didnt know how to handle him and simply shot his leg off to stop him. Nice little true story.
Whoa, gnarly. Let’s talk about Jean Noel. In “The Wave” are we still following the fat trucker guy from the beginning of “Paddling Out” or has their been a switcheroo with another Jean Noel somewhere in the action?
It’s the same guy. He is trying to find his way back home from being abducted by the aliens. Those bastards that caused all the death and destruction. Don’t you hate them as well, Abdullah?
Yeah, I do! Did the dancing shoes from “Paddling Out” have anything to do with the abduction and transformation?
I put those shoes there because the guy we casted told me he was one of the dancers in Michael Jacksons “Bad” video. I wanted to test if he still had it in him. And as you can see he did.
The only children that appear in either video are Victorian space aliens in “Paddling Out” and dead kids in “The Wave.” Are those two themes connected somehow?
The opening of “The Wave” is an homage one of my favorite movies of all time. John Landis’ Schlock. The kids in the spaceship are aliens. There is no connection.
Is Jean Noel some kind of perfect human specimen? What is it that makes him perfect? Is it the extra long gloves?
His cock. You dont see it in this video but it’s got the shape and look of a Fabergé egg.
Is the destroyed house that he comes to at the end of “The Wave” the house he started out in in “Paddling Out”?
Yes it is. It´s a house/spaceship from the planet Crocs.
Where on earth did you come up with the concept for these videos? The imagery seems so random, and yet there is a cohesive enough story that it warranted a sequel. Why this?
The concept of this was born after long evenings of me and the band talking about gene technology in contemporary science. We share a mutual excitement in whats happening on the medical scene right now. Im doing my first plastic surgery this month. Im getting myself an extra toe.
Did Miike Snow’s song lyrics have anything to do with the conception of the story?
Yes and no.
What is one song by any artist, dead or alive, that you would love to do the music video for?
Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No.5 In C Minor Part 1.”
Any existing music videos that you wish you could overhaul and redo?
This one. Wouldn’t change much, just slow down the edit pace.
Can you tell us a bit about the concept of “Pretender” and the next chapter in the story of Jean Noel? Does director Vern Moen stay true to the tale you conceived?
There wasn’t so much of a story, rather a situation that he had to work out of and improvise within. Vern had creative freedom to do what he felt right in the moment.
Is this the final chapter of that story, or do you have more in mind for the character?
We want to continue to see what happens with Jean Noel.
Be sure to check in with our sister site Noisey on Monday for the video premiere of Miike Snow’s video for “Pretender.” You can also catch Miike Snow on tour this October. Check out the dates below! Get your tickets here.
· October 13th 2012: Mexico City @Corona Capital 2012
· October 16th 2012: Minneapolis, MN @First Avenue (with Niki And The Dove)
· October 17th 2012: Chicago, IL @Congress Theater (with Niki And The Dove)
· October 19th 2012: New York, NY @United Palace (with Niki And The Dove)
· October 20th 2012: Portland, ME @State Theater (with Niki And The Dove)
· October 22nd 2012: Boston, MA @Orpheum Theatre (with Niki And The Dove)
· October 23rd 2012: Montclair, NJ @Wellmont Theatre (with Niki And The Dove)
· October 24th 2012: Washington, DC @9:30 Club (early show/7 pm doors) (with Niki And The Dove)
· October 24th 2012: Washington, DC @9:30 Club (late show/10:30 pm doors) (with Niki And The Dove)
· October 26th 2012: Asheville, NC @Moogfest 2012 (with Niki And The Dove)
· October 30th 2012: Los Angeles, CA @Hollywood Palladium (with Niki And The Dove)