“You're a sinner for a feeling” intones Tom Krell midway though ‘Don’t Say No’, his collaboration with innovative LA producer Shlohmo. It’s a fair summation of the longing, R&B-influenced music he makes as How To Dress Well, and the sentiment he brings to Shlohmo’s stuttering rhythms.
The video for ‘Don’t Say No’, is accordingly close to the bone – a hyper-saturated, bodily experiment where Krell is cloaked in blood-red, bile-yellow and liver-indigo – the work of Canada-based Video Marsh, also behind Shlohmo’s ‘Rained The Whole Time (Nicholas Jaar Remix)’, and Grimes’ ‘Venus In Fleurs’. Nic Brown of Video Marsh talked us through the intimate and lengthy creation of the video.
Why did you think the colour red was right for this?
I wanted to depict an inner world. Heartache, haunting memories - I'm interested in figuring out how these things might look. To me, they look mostly red. The video is meant to be like a mirror.
A mirror to what?
The viewer. It's supposed to be a sort of conduit to an emotional experience, but without the viewer's participation it's just a bunch of meaningless images. If somebody feels something from the video, or sees something about themselves in it, it’s a very beautiful thing to me.
In Tom's live performances he is very much the focal point. Why did you choose to mask him?
I wasn't consciously trying to obscure him, but it wouldn't make sense to me if he was seen clearly. We're not seeing standard reality, it's being filtered through a human.
Who is the video being filtered through?
On the surface, I'm the filter - I made the video, it passed through my nervous system in a number of ways. But really, the filter is the viewer. How does it make them feel? Does it trigger any memories? That's what I'm interested in.
What was the day of filming like?
It was filmed over the course of several months. I was given a great deal of time to work on the video, so I had freedom to experiment. There were probably forty different filming sessions. Locations were all indoors, various buildings. I can't speak for Tom, but everyone else involved went through a spectrum of emotions while it was being made.
Did you have a brief for the video? What was on your moodboard?
I was sent a demo of the song and I loved it. I wrote some ideas and they were approved. I don't know anything about a moodboard.
How did you hook up with Tom/How To Dress Well in the first place?
The first time I met him was at my apartment about a year ago. We filmed a strange scene with my friend Jenn – they were complete strangers and I filmed them telling each other some dark stories from their past. Then he sung to her while smoking a cigarette.