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Glitchy Green Screen Magic In The Video For Jamaican Queens' "Caitlin"

Detroit synth-pop band Jamaican Queens (Ryan Spencer, Ryan Clancy, and Adam Pressley) have really made a name for themselves across the music blogosphere in just over a year of their existence. The trio is all set to embark on a tour to promote their new album and will be hitting some cool spots outside of Detroit and the Great Midwest, including Brooklyn, LA, San Francisco, and Portland this spring. In addition to their music, the band has an especially awesome internet presence with some rad music videos to boot. Their new video for song "Caitlin" is full of glitchy wackiness with help from a green screen, enthusiastic interpretive dancers overlayed with patterned neon nonsense, and of course night shots of the dirty D.

The band collaborated with multi-media artist and fellow Detroiter Daniel DeMaggio (who's also made some pretty rad videos all his own, including Circuit Bending With Satan) to create this tripped-out sonic film. After the video be sure to check out our interviews with both DeMaggio and Ryan Spencer, below. 

The Creators Project: Can you tell me about the process of making the video? 
Daniel DeMaggio:
 Because videos can be so impersonal, I elected to make something with the song about my friend Caitlin Drinkard, as it meant [I had] a chance to blend my actual life with my craft. I often hybrid my life in my animations, but Jamaican Queens were offering me a blank slate without restrictions.

How did you come up with this interpretation of the song?
The major themes I derived are of disconnections between friends, jaded social groups, and individuals in reflection of the darker side of their "bar-cults." I wondered if there were multiple meanings in the album name, Worm Food. These worm diet/habits get a literal translation as the animated worms (guys in sleeping bags) lurk and slither around the whole video. My main point though was to celebrate and iconize my friend Caitlin, I wanted to make a stylized moving portrait of her, like a holograph.
 
How did you achieve the glitchy/net-arty sort of effect?
I use time remapping to toggle the frames and adjust speed. I'm glad you see it as net-art, because that was my intention. Adam from Jamaican Queens created the band's webpage and I drew some aesthetics from their site and older spoofy videos reflecting work from artists Abby Fiscus and Juanita from Detroit's Creepy CrawlersThere are lots of ways to make glitches, my own fascination with them is both for audio and videothe product of years of video game "power–up" energy sequences.
 
What tools do you use in your filmmaking process?
I look for anything in the world which can chroma key, flat solid color, or things that glow in the dark, things that silhouette shadow in bright light. Old footage from digi cameras, provocative images, and moments from real life, iPhone cameras. I borrow equipment like fancy cameras from my friends, I use ghetto tech light systems like lamps from thrift stores, green paint, blue paint for different effects. It's all pretty 90s technology aside from cameras and Adobe After Effects.
 
Did you have a solid idea about how the project would develop before you started? Or was it sort of just on the fly?
Video editing can get really disgusting... staring at a tiny picture, computers constantly freezing up, headaches, backaches. It was important to me that my friends could walk by me editing and not see me tortured by a boring tiny picture and a bunch of buttons and dials. So most of the editing was done with my viewing area really large. I wanted each scene to be edited almost full quality. But anyway, yeah, I have loose plans to evoke my cast with energy, then I take what they make and sequence and style it afterwards. I DID NOT LISTEN TO THE SONG A MILLION TIMES like usual... I listened in the beginning and then avoided it until the end so I could be fresh when sequencing to music.
 

We also caught up with Ryan Spencer, one third of for Jamaican Queens, about the band, their music video, and upcoming album.

The Creators Project: So I know you guys worked with a green screen for this project, can you tell me a little bit about the process behind that? Did you have a set plan for how it would work out or were you guys just kind of messing around?
Ryan Spencer: Dan is one of my best friends and an incredible animator. When he agreed to work with us, we knew that he would basically have 100 percent creative control. Which is what we wanted because the stuff he makes is so bizarre and beautiful. First thing he told us we needed a green screen. Ryan Clancy (who plays drums), his grandfather owns this empty warehouse on the eastside, so Dan, Adam, and Ryan painted up one of the walls and floors. We then got all our friends together and had a party. It was basically just 20 or so people smoking, drinking, and skateboarding in this warehouse and then when Dan needed someone to do something, he'd call them over and film them. 

 

What's your relationship with Daniel DeMaggio? His work is pretty wacky, I'm in to it. Have you guys collaborated with him in other ways? How did you come to the decision to work with him on a video for this particular song?
Dan and I have worked together a lot in the past. I was in his dubbed out music project called Brain Rottar. Adam was in that for a little bit as well. Dan also made a documentary of me getting a stupid stick and poke tattoo on my leg. The tattoo said "sk8 or don't”—so dumb. I'm sure we've worked on a bunch of other junk, but that's all I can think of right now. 

How long have you guys been around, since 2012-ish, no? Have either of you been, or are you now involved in other bands or projects?
We played our first show on June 9, 2012. We had been writing and stuff for a few months prior to that, but didn't start hitting the road. We’ve been touring or putting out music until late 2012. It's crazy to think of how much shit we've done in less than a year.

Can you talk about your album a little bit? I see that you guys are having an album release party soon.
Adam and I wrote and recorded this album for about six months. We did it all in his bedroom and my family room. We didn't mean for it to have a theme, but I guess I was pretty obsessed with the idea of love and death. Love, because at the time I didn't believe in it. Death, because I had lost faith in living people. I’d lost faith in the point of living. I wasn't scared to die, and knew that when I was dead, I would no longer be depressed. Just dead. Finally. No afterlife.

What's the most annoying falsehood perpetuated by the media about Detroit?
My car did get stolen. All my friends cars get stolen, windows busted out, etc., etc. I guess no one really focuses on the good stuff. There are great restaurants. Great people. Awesome music. The best techno scene. Beautiful architecture. The list goes on and on. Also, you can live very cheaply. If I lived in New York or something, I’d have to get a job. Why would I want to spend my time working on other people's stuff? I hardly have enough time to do my own stuff. 

Anything else you guys wanna tell me about yourselves?
I'm 27 years old. I'm a cancer. I was born on the solstice. I am 6'3" tall. I listen to a lot of rap music...We tour all the time. We kind of live in a van. It's a Ford. It was made in 1992. It has 260,000 miles on it. We have amazing friends that we love very much. They inspire us. We are very lucky. 

[via NOWNESS]

Photos and video courtesy of Jamaican Queens and NOWNESS.

@MlleDisser

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