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Animal Collective's Visual Album

Animal Collective premieres ODDSAC, a visual album in collaboration with Danny Perez - here in conversation with Dazed Digital

A bubbling kalaidoscope of belching static wrapped around a meandering vignette of grotesque fairytale perversions, Animal Collective's visual album ODDSAC will not disappoint the more adventurous members of their burgeoning congregation... although it might have the rest in fearing genuflection. If the ambition of the band and their long term visual collaborator, Danny Perez, was to create an utterly captivating dimension demonstrating the primal, reflexive dialogue between music and visual interpretation, as well as a chance to plunge fans down a rabbit hole where the odd bit of "Futterwacking" would be the least of their earthly worries (cue the sad, but ultimately effective Will Oldham-esque vampire and face-eating marshmallows), then they have hammered the bell. In baited anticipation of the UK premiere of ODDSAC at the ICA, Dazed caught up with Danny Perez, fresh from All Tomorrow Parties...

Dazd Digital: Where does the film title come from?
Danny Perez: It’s really part of an inside joke that none of us can really remember. We kind of likened the film to being an odd, mutated package of sorts; messed up packages of gummy candy. That's what it’s really all about [laughs].

DD: It took about four years to make, didn’t it?
Danny Perez: Yes, perhaps a little too long for my tastes, but AC were touring a lot and making other records and I had to make a living touring with other bands that I work with and making music videos.

DD: Are the nature/fairytale perversions also thematic preoccupations that you share with the band?
Danny Perez: Definitely in so far as taking childish archetypes visually and then tweeking them within the context of this new, very 21st Century soundtrack of Animal Collective - in the same way that they themselves might mutate ambient sounds through their pedals. In that regard, the preoccupation with disfunction and nature really allows for some nice visual moments.

DD: The combination of the music and the visuals in ODDSAC is very visceral…
Danny Perez: Yeah, I would argue that that approach comes from my experience of doing things in a live setting and wanting to have this ‘in the moment’ impact, as opposed to a very designed narrative film where the message is nestled in the final shot. You know, this kind of just slaps you around the face for 50 minutes.

DD: What do you think about the LSD references in response to the film – do you think that’s maybe a bit obvious?
Danny Perez: Well, it’s a little redundant. I understand it, but even the just the way the press sometimes covers Animal Collective… It just becomes an easy “out”. Sometimes the only way that people would be able to comprehend a form of expression that is rare or exotic is to say that the people who created it are on drugs.  I don’t necessarily mind the reference, just when it becomes dismissive. Obviously for your readership and me it’s not a big deal, and kind of commonplace, but then you’ve got my father at the Q&A and some woman shouting ‘This is like the last time I took LSD!!!” [laughs]. But we’re all normal dudes, you know? This is just our form of expression.

DD: I read that someone took their child out of filming with the suggestion that you were all satanists?
Danny Perez: [laughs] Well, yeah, there has been a reactionary element to the film. Some mom freaked out on us. I can see why she might have got initially upset, but then the way she carried on was kind of ridiculous.

DD: I noticed a few hat tips to directors such as Werner Herzog or Dario Argento – would that be fair to say?
Danny Perez: There’s a lot of cinematic nods in the movie, but there’s a fine line between having influences, or doing a homage… and then there's straight-rip-off territory, which I’m hesitant to get into. But I’m a firm believer in that everything has been done before and at this point it’s a matter of mixing up your sources to create a new recipe.  It’s definitely a movie-lover’s movie.

DD: There might a new AC fanbase drawn to the film after discovering the band through their recent, and arguably more accessible, album Merriweather Post Pavillion. Do you think they might find the film “dark”?
Danny Perez: Totally – that is literally the one question I’ve been asked so far “Why is it so dark?”. I’m kind of curious about the European’s brains to see how that translates [laughs].

DD: You seem to enjoy playing along the lines of horror and humour in ODDSAC...
Danny Perez: I think there’s an awkwardness that goes on between those two feelings that I’m really interested in exploring. When you have these two experiences of horror and humour it does ultimately accumulate into a kind of bipolar experience: you go through moments of laughing, moments of terror, moments of anxiety and so on.. In a way that’s a personal experience for me on a daily basis, so let’s share in that awkwardness.

DD: Do you think the best creative work is developed in private without too much outside influence?
Danny Perez: For me, if anything, I’m generally repelled by the consensus or what the standard is. I think it can be useful to keep your finger on the pulse, because you can use that your advantage or disadvantage, but I’d certainly question any work that was made with constant input from that awareness.

DD: Who are your creative influences?
Danny Perez: I feel more influenced by music than movies. Animal Collective and Black Dice really are two groups of people who push me to constantly try something new, or not to be satisfied with a certain mode or technique. I don’t have a lot of attention for narrative or drama-based movies. I like old crappy horror movies with bad prosthetics and slime coming out of people’s faces. There’s a lot of Japanese cinema that I like - Woman Of The Dunes – that film’s really amazing in in terms of super-expressionist compositions.

DD: So you’re pretty much visually led when it comes to film?
Danny Perez: Yeah, I don’t necessarily think that’s a shallow or superficial approach as some might claim. If anything it’s the opposite because when you get into these visual mind-fields [sic], as far as creating this visceral approach that I do with ODDSAC, you let the viewer occupy a more subjective headspace. Even if you’re thinking about your bills through a certain part of ODDSAC, I would prefer that to me giving you the “one..two…threes…” about life. It’s meant to engage with the viewer’s inner-life.

Dazed: What’s coming up for you in the near-to-middle future?
Danny Perez:  I’m doing a lot of shows with Panda Bear, who has a lot of new material. We’ll be doing the Primavera Festival and also screening ODDSAC there.  We’re also working on some other installation type projects that came about from the Guggenheim performance we did. I’m also just working on getting some movie ideas out there…

ODDSAC - A Visual Album by Animal Collective and Danny Perez
Special screenings announced with Danny Perez and members of the band in attendance
UK dates – 13 May, London / 14 May, Leeds /15 May, Manchester
DVD will be released by Plexi on 26 July