Through the thick and thin of Animal Collective’s 17-year-long career, the band has never stopped putting diligent effort into the art direction of their albums. From starting out wearing masks a lá Daft Punk to projection mapping Gumby, we’re still left guessing what’s next.
Today, Animal Collective released Painting With, their tenth studio album, which Abby Portner, self-described “visual person” for the band, described as “Sung Tongs on a digital sunny vacation.” We caught a whiff of the “digital” part of that description with their interactive painting app, and some of the sunny with the vaporwave wet dream that is the “FloriDada” video (above). The Creators Project spoke with Portner to find out even more.
The Creators Project: So to start, can you tell me about the planning process for Animal Collective's new tour? Was anything different this time around?
Abby Portner: It's always different I think. Each record Animal Collective makes has a very specific vibe and art direction. Which means each tour design comes from totally different places. We had a couple rules with this one: No inflatables since we did that for Centipede Hz tour and we never want to repeat two tours. And handmaking all the content by stop-motion... Since the record is called Painting With, most of the content is painted!
What exactly inspired the art direction?
Painters, I guess, and art. It started with the press photos I did with them by turning them into famous paintings. I made them all dada artworks, and got a replica painter to come help me make them look exactly like the art or collage. I think it worked? For the stage design I wanted to continue with that concept but make it into a dada-ish colorful world! I had this idea of sort of collaging elements together on a stage to make a larger picture. I also was working in Copenhagen at the time when we first started talking about all of this and I watched a lot of 70s Danish kids’ shows with a lot of stop-motion in them. It got me thinking about making all the content video stop-motion. Stop-motion to me has a collage sort of effect to it.
What kind of on-stage artistic endeavors can we expect for this tour?
I guess the closest thing I could get to making a dada collage out of sculptures and video on a stage. I drew a backdrop that I just had hand-sewn for me. There will be video mapping and also stage props! It has a very handmade feel to it unlike the inflatables of last tour. I guess the idea of "Painting With" them on stage, or, the idea of you behind in a constantly changing painting with them.
Your previous work with Animal Collective/Slasher Flicks has generally had a narrative arc. Does that exist in this tour?
Yes for sure! Maybe it's not noticeable at first, but the idea of dada and art history and the video’s colors and how it is constantly changing, moving, and melting on-stage hopefully will take people into a different headspace and journey every night. It's pretty bright, I think, and colorful compared to last tour. Hopefully when you walk into a dark venue and the show starts you're no longer in a club drinking beer.
To learn more about the Painting With tour, visit Animal Collective’s website.