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Melt Your Mind With Theodore Darst's Music Video for The-Drum's "/SYS"

Recently, we covered Yoshi Sodeoka’s crazy music video for Yeasayer’s “Henrietta.” If you enjoy Sodeoka’s glitchy aesthetic, you’ll love what video artist Theodore Darst cooked up for “/SYS,” the lastest single from Chicago-based “sci-fi R&B” group The-Drum.

The video for “/SYS” is just as textural as the song—the visuals are composed of beach footage, liquid metal, angular glitch, and three-dimensional objects such as a rotating marijuana leaf, palm trees, and a skull. These elements appear and disappear through distortion by the liquid metal, glitch, and a strobe light effect. The result is a serene visual cacophony, perfectly mirroring the sound of “/SYS.” We asked Darst a few questions to get a behind-the-scenes take on the music video.

The Creators Project: You work in various fields, but a majority of your work is video. Do you prefer video over other mediums? If so, why?
Video has been my main love since high school, so I can never really leave it. I generally try to approach a project thinking about which medium might best serve the piece. I ditched video for a minute when I was at art school, but it’s been making a comeback for me. Some artistic regression maybe.

How did your collaboration with The-Drum come about?
I met them doing live visuals with my friend Chris Collins for The-Drum. a href=“http://soundcloud.com/supremecuts/” target="_blank">Supreme Cuts, me, and Jeremy (from The-Drum) just hit it off and started kicking it. The whole process with them was really fresh and laid back. Our first meeting about the video we just had a few beers, chilled in the AC, and watched old Art of Noise videos on this big flat screen TV they have over at their place.


Have you worked with music videos before?
I’ve done one or two proper music videos a while back. Not really anything worth talking about. I’ve done a lot of collaborative performances with my two musician friends as Bullet Hell.

Is there an overall concept to “/SYS”?
I was thinking about it as a stoner pirate webcast from the future. Overall though, I worked on “/SYS” from an intuitive place. I think the music video is a great medium to try things that might not necessarily work for a single-channel video piece, but really take off when they are in a new context.

I noticed on your Vimeo that you VJ. Did your prior experience working with audiovisuals inform the process behind “/SYS”?
Definitely. I think doing live visuals really informs my feeling for a more rhythmic style of editing. When you’re spending a few hours a week essentially live editing video loops you start to develop a much better natural sense of what will work in a sequence and what won’t.

What computer programs did you use to create “/SYS”?
Maya, After Effects, Photoshop, and Premiere. I also shot that water footage and did some stuff with analog mixers for the glitches and video feedback.


Analog glitchy effects are difficult to emulate digitally, like the one you used throughout “/SYS.” How did you create and use this effect?
All the glitches in “/SYS” are analog. I recorded a VJ set to “/SYS” with a circuit bent mixer as a background layer and then used that to sculpt out the video’s structure in After Effects and Premiere. There’s an inimitable rhythm in analog glitches that I don’t think can be emulated well with software, and I felt like the back and forth between analog samples and digital processing was really fitting for “/SYS.”

What do you have planned for the future?
I’m working on a video game installation for a gallery show in the fall and another video for The-Drum is in the works, hopefully with about 100% more choreographed dance routines in it.

Sense Net is currently available for free download on The-Drum’s Bandcamp page.

@paulaklee

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