I met Evan after a show we played in Nashville on our last tour. He was filming another band playing with us that night named Soft Robot (half of which ended up serving as crew on the IDFA video). He ended up shooting some of our set and gave me a card to get the footage from him. At the time, my original plans for making this music video had just fallen apart, and I was having a hard time lining up something else since we were on the road for so long. After seeing Evan's footage from the show and his work online, I knew he was our guy. After the Fall tour was over, I shot down to Nashville for a couple of days to shoot this with him
Enjoy the interview below, and also big thanks to Fran Litterski, ST Davis, Jourdan Lees, Michael Hampton, Michael Liesner and Rachel Brace for their work on this video.
Digisaurus: So, you've directed music videos for bands like Phantogram, Tiesto, and White Arrows and commercials, including a recent Beats spot featuring Marcus Mariota. But you're pretty active across many spectrums of the visual arts. Tell me about what drove you into this field and some of the different forms you're most drawn to today?
Evan: I think I was attracted to the medium of music videos after I found directors like Jonathan Glazer, Mark Romanek and Micheal Gondry using it as a gateway to building cinematic pieces that accompanied the music. Then from there, they climbed into feature films. I guess I saw myself wanting to take the same path. After I shot my first music video and I was spending someone else's money to make art, I loved the prospect of doing it as a career. Right now I’m exploring different mediums. I love the new subculture of glitch art or tech art - using code or pixel bending scripts. Also, my passion has always been creating a cinema in some form or fashion whether it is through experimental/non-narrative filmmaking or something a bit more conventional. But I love exploring new ways to express art whether it’s VR, installation art or writing. I was late to the Anime and Manga train so I’ve recently been exploring that whole world. I just read Uzumaki… Insane.
Digisaurus: You directed the music video for "I Don't Feel Alright," which we put out this week. So focusing on music videos a bit, what do you think makes a great music video and what are some of your core philosophies when it comes to making them?
Evan: I think the most important thing is to listen to the song, look at your budget and let the two dance together in your head. Limitations are great to finding the best direction to take. I also think if you can showcase the artist in a way that gives your viewer a sense of who they are you’re on the right track.
Digisaurus: For "I Don't Feel Alright," What are some of the things you drew inspiration from when coming up with ideas for this video?
Evan: For this video, I really loved the freedom we had to explore and build on. I drew a lot from my catalogue of old 80s advertisements. They did in-camera effects that bled into the surreal and pop. I always loved trying to find that balance.
Digisaurus: You used a lot of different lense filters, cameras, and props to create some of the visual effects in this video. Can you give us a bit more detail about of some of the things you used and how you decided to use them?
Evan: We used a 4 star-cross filter that added those subtle star effects in the background. I think it gives the video a unique twist for the LEDs that animate throughout. The others are a mish-mash of defracting glass, prisms, diopters and layering. We also used a rig I built to roll the camera. This gave us the ability to really ramp up the energy and create a kaleidoscope-like abstraction with the LED wall animating to the music.
Digisaurus: In the past, there's been a debate in music recording with regards to how much effects are part of the performance and how much they're applied in post. One thing that struck me when we filmed this video was how much you wanted to film with these effects in the moment. I'm not sure if it exists, but is there a similar argument in the video world? And how much do you think technology has improved and made things easier vs. created shortcuts that detract from the overall viewing experience?
Evan: Yeah, I see a lot of artists finding a lot of freedom in controlling their worlds in the post, but I think you lose a lot of the magic of chance or improvisation. I love the ability to experiment and mess around with looks on set. It allows us to create something that could never be re-created. Whether it's a crack or a smudge on the glass that blooms the light in a certain direction or an old prism that gives you a look that is one of a kind. I love chasing that one of a kind look. I also think the higher the resolution gets these days, the more clarity and detail becomes a look within itself. I’m not a fan of the 8k resolution hype. I seem to always be pushing against it. I love soft and grainy imagery. It is more than just a nostalgic longing, it feels more real and tangible and I can get lost in it easier. High resolution does have its place though, I saw a Planet Earth experience in 4k and was blown away.
Digisaurus: Lastly, what does 2017 have in store for you? Do you have any projects coming up that you can tell us about?
Evan: I'll be working on a few projects that have been in the pipeline since last year. I'm in post on a new short film called, Donoma. It's a trippy, Native American film with a terrifying soundtrack. And I have a few things I'm pitching for TV and web. Other than that I'll just be making art and staying busy. It's gonna be a great year!
You can check out more of Evan's work at http://www.evanbrace.com