An interview with Dutch director Fons Schiedon about his surreal animated clip for SBTRKT’s first single.
On September 29, British producer SBTRKT will release his long-awaited second album, Wonder Where We Land, on Young Turks. This week saw the release of the computer-animated music video for new single "New Dorp. New York", created by Dutch director Fons Schiedon, part of the Amsterdam-based production studio PostPanic. While the song itself, which features Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig paying cryptic lyrical tribute to NYC (Flags flappin’ in Manhattan, New Dorp, New York / Gargoyles gargling oil / Peak of the Empire, top of the rock), is dark and mysterious to begin with, Schiedon’s clip makes the entire thing feel, well, even darker and more mysterious.
“We have been looking to work with one of the artists from Young Turks for some time now, but we were always waiting for that one artist that really felt right,” says Schiedon. “When SBTRKT came along we immediately knew: this is what we want to do. The song has a very elusive quality to it, with a very distinctive rhythm. I immediately got a visual image in my head.”
In the clip, we see a feline-like creature roam the deserted streets of a shrouded metropolis. “At first he’s still very fragile and marginal, a bit like a stray cat,” he explains. “But as the song progresses he’s gradually becoming bigger and more powerful." When he eventually arrives in Manhattan, we get to see him in full light for the first time, as a bloodthirsty predator on his way to the top of the food chain.
To create the animations, Schiedon and his creative team used a combination of Maya, Studio Max and After Effects. “In the beginning the images are mainly silhouettes and shadows, a bit like paper cutouts with backlighting, but as the creature evolves the animations start to get more and more 3D as well.”
Schiedon loosely based the surreal, shadow-filled metropolis on actual elements of NYC and New Dorp, Staten Island. “There are a few visual references here and there, such as the lighthouse in New Dorp, the vertical parking spots in Manhattan and the horse that gets eaten, as a reference to the horse carriages you see driving around Central Park. But I’ve deliberately kept them pretty subtle. There are enough cliché-riddled clips about New York already—that’s not what I wanted to make.”
“I think that’s what makes this song so great as well,” he continues. “It succeeds in shining a new, playful light on one of the most famous cities in the world. That feeling you can have in New York when you feel incredibly big and powerful and immensely small and void at the same time—'baseball bats that never hit home runs.' In the end it’s about the struggle to find your own way in all of that. Hopefully that something that's people will pick up from watching the clip as well.”