TV On the Radio selects Mikey Please

Carefully crafted creatures and dark intricacies figure in the work of animator Mikey Please

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Taken from the November issue of Dazed & Confused:

TVOTR vocal wizard Tunde Adebimpe: “I chose Mikey to direct ‘Second Song’ because I wanted it to look incredible. In an age when it’s common to use computers to do the work, he’s dedicated to moving things by hand and infusing them with a human touch.”

The dark magic that illuminates the sombre, handcrafted animations of Mikey Please – director of TV on the Radio’s “Second Song” and Bafta-winning stop-motion short The Eagleman Stag (above) – has seen him compared to animation’s great melancholic storytellers, from Jan Svankmajer to the Brothers Quay. But one comparison irks: Tim Burton. “That’s because he’s the only animator people know!” he laughs. We’re in his Hoxton studio, where odd illustrations on bulletin boards line the walls of a space peppered with foam creatures and baffling tools. His work is full of macabre detail, with spindly creations that ebb and flow like visual metamorphosis. “It’s an open canvas,” says Please. “It’s fantastical and wild. Fantasy is your friend when you can do anything.”

And the Somerset-born RCA grad has done quite a lot. He won his Bafta in 2011 and was quickly headhunted by Mary Burke, the producer of Richard Ayoade’s sullen sleeper hit Submarine (2010). “She got in touch with me and was like, ‘Do you have a project?’ It was while I was making The Eagleman Stag and writing a short story.” The short story turned into Zero Greg, a work-in-progress about a young boy unaffected by gravity. “There is a very literal story about why he is unaffected by gravity and what that means – and then also how he discovers the actual nature of it. I’ve been fascinated by the nature of gravity for years.”

Please was disillusioned recently by a visit to the set of a flop big-budget studio animation that he refuses to name. “They didn’t know how it was going to end two-thirds of the way through production. How can you waste talented people on a project that this person just hadn’t given a shit about? It’s heartbreaking. I’m trying to say something that’s a bit more real and a bit truer.” That’s why he surrounds himself with a team dedicated to creating experiences audiences can take home with them. With Please, fantasy has never felt so human.

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