Blue Hawaii-Reaction II

Enter the dreamworld of synesthesia in the Montreal duo's lush new video

Having first met just over a year ago whilst working on an underwater soundscape for a digital installation, multi-disciplinary art director Melissa Matos and Montreal-based synth duo Blue Hawaii have paired up once again to produce a beautifully haunting edit for Reaction II. Capturing the poignant oppositions between structure and nature, colour and greyscale, noise and quiet, the video follows Carola – a close friend of Melissa’s who is deaf – through a North London council estate dressed in a neon yellow overall. We caught up with Melissa and Agor to find out more about their collaboration and the ideas that inspired the work.

"When making images, whether moving or stills, we mostly often than not want to create videos that make people ''feel'' things, but I thought it would be interesting to create something not only for a hearing audience. The girl in the video, Carola, is a friend of mine who is deaf. She experiences synesthesia, sounds appear as colours or vibrations, the feeling comes through the colors, which is what helped navigate the concept in a really organic way. We ''listened'' to the song together, and with some help of initial ideas and lyrics, we developed an interpretation of it the words and beat. At the chorus, we see animations of the various places she has has been or has existed- which could be considered as a place where these memories exists, but also the interplay between our senses and individual perception." - Melissa Matos

Dazed Digital: It feels like perspective and point of view plays a significant role in the video, how does it reflect the motif of the song?
Melissa Matos: The concept originally started off by trying to document the places where memories exist. By picking peculiar locations that carry a presence after significant life moments happen there, it takes on a life of its own. It exists in its own dimension. You always want people to 'feel' something from your work, but I also wanted to create something that wasn’t just for a hearing audience.

DD: Talk to us about the role of colour in your production.
MM: I've always been interested in exploring synaesthesia (heightened senses/perspectives illuminated by  'disabilities'). The girl in the video, Carola, is a friend of mine, who is deaf.  She is so gifted!  Amongst other things, sounds sometimes appear to her as colours or vibrations-which is what helped shape the palette we see in the video in a really organic way. To her, the feeling comes through the colours. 

DD: Tell us a little bit about the themes that run through Untogether. Separation, delicacy, communication: what prompted you to concentrate on these aspects of human relationships?
AC: We were going through a tough time - a lot of things seemed to be falling apart in our lives: our relationship, our home, the music scene around us - life was changing fast and yet we still came out with a statement. If you listen closely you can hear that uncertainty. However, since we've been touring and playing the material live, we sound nothing like the soft, delicate and disparateness you hear in the recordings. We play heavy, we improvise, DJ tracks and focus on dance music. We're finished for the time being with that soft stuff... Touring with Purity Ring and in Europe has been so inspiring, and anyone that saw us play live has taken part in that.

DD: What’s the story that you wanted to tell with Reaction II?
AC:The lyrics start with "some days in my mood / but not in my soul / flashes sides of cruel / it's not what's in my heart".  I think Raphaelle wrote this because sometimes she felt like she was being unnecessarily mean or demanding of me - for no reason these cruel flashes or remarks would taint our time together. It's about being frustrated with someone you know really well - to a point of being able to take something negative out on them precisely because of that familiarity. 

DD: How does the video style reflect your sound?
AC:This wandering figure - deaf to the world around her - expresses a kind of beauty and freedom, but the disconnectedness that permeates the scene makes it bittersweet. The video reflects the album's sound so well - since touring of course, that has all changed. Melissa contacted us from London, put this together herself, and I think she's hit the themes bang on. I can't imagine a better interpretation of "Reaction II".

DD: What’s now, and what’s next?
AC:We're going to tour a bit more in the US and in Europe, then Raphaelle will spend the rest of the year working with BRAIDS. I'm moving to Europe, produce an electronic record, and start DJing a hell of a lot more. That makes me happier than almost anything else I can think of.