From the December issue of Dazed & Confused:
Formed in 2007, French collective — directors Charles Brisgand, Clément Gallet, Léo Berne and Raphaël Rodriguez — make the sort of ridiculously inventive music videos that make your eyes widen, your head spin and, in the case of Is Tropical’s “Dancing Anymore” (below), your jaw drop. Thankfully, it’s not all about furious wank sessions in strangers’ houses; their varied aesthetic palette also takes in homemade lyrics (Metronomy’s “A Thing for Me”), American-football-themed suburban surrealism (Madonna’s “Give Me All Your Luvin’”) and, most recently, a reverse-timeframe witch-hunt for Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Sacrilege”. This is their five-point creative manifesto:
USE CGI IF YOU HAVE TO BUT ONLY IF IT MAKES SENSE IN THE CONTEXT
CGI is really good now, but we always feel it’s much better to keep things real. People can feel the magic more like that. If we have no other solution than to use CGI then we will. In the Is Tropical video the CGI was used to represent the kid’s mind and what he was thinking, and we played with the aesthetic of the CGI. When we shot the video the guy was just wanking in different places around the house and then afterwards we had to imagine the framing to add the CGI. But it can work without it.
DON'T WORRY ABOUT HAVING A DEFINITE AESTHETIC
There are some directors like Romain Gavras (M.I.A.’s “Born Free” and “Bad Girls”) who do the same kind of videos, but we like to make something new each time to discover something we’ve never done before. The fact that there are four of us helps because we challenge each other. We don’t like to have one style. At the beginning we didn’t have that much money so we focused on the concepts and not on the photography as much, but as time’s gone on we’ve become more interested in more cinematic elements.
SOMETIMES YOU'VE GOT TO DO WHAT YOU CAN TO GET SOME EXPOSURE
There are some artists we’ve worked with where it was necessary to make something with them. Perhaps the song isn’t great but you have lots of money and a good location, and it helps get people talking about you. Working with someone like Madonna, one of the biggest artists of the last 30 years, was super interesting. We can’t say a bad thing about Madonna – we can be honest in that the song wasn’t exactly what we expected, but it was a really great experience. It was really useful to do that.
DON'T MAKE YOUR VIDEOS FUNNY FOR THE SAKE OF IT
We don’t like pure comedy – we try to be a bit cynical and ironic. In the beginning we were categorised with all the funny music-video directors, and then over time I think that image changed, especially with the recent Is Tropical video, which is on the cusp between funny and something beyond that. You can say, ‘Oh, I like this, but it’s a bit wrong.’ We always try to stir up emotions, whereas in the beginning it was more technical. We want to show something that’s more internal, even if it’s in comedy or, like in the Yeah Yeah Yeahs video, something more dramatic.
DON'T CHARGE FOR YOUR MUSIC VIDEOS (UNLESS IT'S MADONNA)
We don’t charge anybody. Only Madonna. That’s because we try to do the best for the ideas themselves and not be compromised. With the last couple of videos investment has come from the production company, so on those ones they’ve actually lost money. We prefer to make just one or two videos in a year and as we’ve done the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Is Tropical ones this year we will wait a bit. It just makes sense to do one or two a year, use the money from the production company and then make commercials to make that money back.