Found footage, webcams, and the crude animation of a beefed up duck laying an egg; the figurative world of “porno-pop” duo 18+ just got a whole lot weirder in the video for their new single “Dry,” premiering above.
Taken from their debut album Trust, released through Houndstooth last November, "Dry" is pure trap homage. Dripping with innuendo and laced together with coded lyrics over a backdrop of gun cocks and pitch-shifted chants, the whole thing feels equal parts erotic and uncomfortable. Kind of like visiting a strip club in the middle of the afternoon.
The band, made up of the formerly-anonymous Justin and Samia, started out in 2011 self-releasing homemade videos. Over time, they have evolved through several media formats of music, performance and visuals which graphically explore identity, gender, sex and morality.
We caught up with them to talk about virtual reality, identity and the meaning of the muscular duck.
Noisey: Hello you two. So, you kept things relatively anonymous when you first started out. What changed?
18+: 18+ is a project that focuses on visual language, communication, and entertainment. The formats we exist and work in are always a response to what we are presented with. When this began, existing anonymously was a form that suited the activity of self-releasing music and visuals online, behind a screen, in the confines of our homes. When playing live, collaborating, signing contracts, or doing interviews—such things don't work without that anonymity feeling like a gimmick to us, inconvenient and unnecessary. After signing with Houndstooth and publishing material both recorded and press related, the presence of our bodies, in-person, in-video, in-imagery seemed most natural. We will continue to evolve as more comes our way.
I think I understand. One thing I don't definitely understand is the muscular duck laying an egg in your new video. It's wonderful though. What's the story?
Our early work featured rendered ideals of humans, destinations, meals, lifestyles etc. Such content could easily be swapped out as long as it's surface was sleek and overly idealized. In contrast, the animation style of “Dry” is drastically different in that it abandons visual idealization. It's juvenile quality matches the burrrr'ing and whooping sounds of the song itself. The shift is perhaps a testament to the importance of the subject matter in the content rather than it's high quality finish.
The importance of muscular ducks?
The video attempts to extrapolate upon the theme of "coming out" featuring the depiction of a muscular duck laying an egg, a mouse out of it's hole, footage from our childhood, us in our rooms now, drones, our loved ones and more recently documented footage of us stuck in a corridor of cages at a venue we played at last month. Our videos are autobiographical—this is where we're at.
Visually, you tend to deal a lot with the juxtaposition between CGI and self-filmed footage (webcams, camera phones etc). Is this all alluding to how technology has affected human relationships?
It might be more productive to think of human relationships as a technology. From the development of language to the formation of the first cities, communication, and the collaboration it allows, has always been the most important technology in service of collective human success. Web 2.0 and the increased accessibility of global telecommunication is no different. It augments our reality, but its emancipatory potential is greater than the risks of alienation. One specific change we've noticed is the blurring of public and private experience. There seems to be a paradoxical relationship whereas the personal and private seem to collapse in on each other, the personal and intimate become even more precious. In a culture of over-sharing the thing you choose not to share, or share with only one person becomes all the more important.
All of your work has a tendency to play with the boundaries of actual reality and virtual reality. Do you think the way we approach our own identities is changing?
For those who participate, social media seems to be creating a sort of "dual-self." The initiated now have both the meat and bones human and the virtual/avatar self. Both of these identities run side by side informing each other but also competing. Sometimes, the two intermesh for a seamless experience engaging both the body and the mind extended by internet. These moments are rare, but may be more common as humans become more and more symbiotic with machines.
You're certainly a very visually engaged band.
We come from an arts background. Individually, we are both practicing artists. Thinking of 18+ as a band has never been helpful to us, but we agree it fulfills many of this terms criteria. For us, the visual is as important as the auditory. Isn't this how we experience the world? Why specialize when we can engage a multitude of mediums? Our goal is a multi sensory experience because its more challenging and offers more options for growth.
If 18+ were an actual 18 year-old, what would they be like?
A-Sexual & E-motional.
They sound great. I think we would have been friends in school.
Trust is out now via Houndstooth.
Follow Emma Garland on Twitter.