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Danny Perez

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The Creators Project: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Danny Perez: I made a movie called ODDSAC, which was a video collaboration with Animal Collective that blurs the boundaries between sound and vision. I also perform, mixing live visuals for bands like Black Dice and Panda Bear. Over the years I’ve also done a handful of music videos, incorporating props, costume design, and physical objects into the overall look of a lot of my work in addition to abstract video elements. It lends to an interesting coexistence.

Let's talk abut the amazing artists you work with.

I was a roadie for Black Dice. I had been hanging out for years with them on the road. Our first tour together was with Animal Collective. After years of all listening to the same music, watching the same movies, and hanging out in the same late night hotel rooms, we found we shared the same sensibility and liked the same things.

The vignettes in ODDSAC are reminiscent of late night horror films. How important was it for you to capture that late night horror movie vibe?

We certainly wanted to capture that feeling and experience: late night hangout. At the same time there is a fine line between something being an homage and a rip-off. I like to think it is successful is in having these heavily stark images and hypnotic sequences that are always an underbelly in this genre. And yet, it is also just a movie. Working with Animal Collective, we are all huge movie lovers; and we wanted something that we would be psyched to watch all the way through the same way we’d watch late night horror movies in hotel rooms. But then you have to consider the context of when it was made, how it looks, and also what is the greater experience. Horror movies can totally be traumatizing when you’re younger. There is something to be said for that. Above narrative and above the literal arc, the movie is an experience. It’s subjective, like music. In that regard it lends itself well to multiple viewings. I’m able to see stuff in ODDSAC that is totally new to me, and I edited it for 4 years.

We’ve had an experience where we see a film and want to leave immediately when it’s over because we feel so uncomfortable, and then we walk all the way home and immediately want to watch it again.

People have had that reaction, being repelled to that degree, and ask me if that’s intentional. I would argue that especially in this day and age an extremely negative reaction is just as valid as a positive reaction. I would rather be repulsed or repelled than feel nothing, because at least then I’ll remember it.

Can you talk a little bit about mixing high tech and lo tech?

I didn’t want the bridge between the two to be arbitrary – I wanted them to fit seamlessly together. A lot of the effects come from how these disparate techs come together and accumulate. I wanted to occupy the awkward space between extremes.

This movie seems seamless.

That was the point. The cohesion of the audio and the video was intentional. It was never meant to be a series of music videos. I sought out a new format. It’s not feature length. It’s not a short film. It doesn’t have a narrative but it certainly has an emotional arc. There is a structure, which, if anything, is an anti-narrative structure, but there is one there. I shot it as if I’d stumbled across a bunch of my dream footage, as if I had a bunch of tapes and was told to make a movie out of them.

How much of this vision was in your head to begin with and how much was improvised along the way?

There is a weird duality that comes from having meticulously laid out environments – you know, actors, sets – a fabricated reality. I like the awkward arbitrary nature that comes from mixing images like that and creating a new environment you weren’t necessarily aware of before. I’m not interested in a piece that tells you what I think the meaning of life is. I’m also not interested in an abstract video loop that looks pretty in its own context and doesn’t function outside of that. All these elements coming together allow you to occupy this weird third space that ideally permeates your inner life.

How has technology helped you in this process?

Everything from the cameras we shot it with to using the Internet as a tool to troubleshoot problems we might be having. At this point it is a different medium, like paint.

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At a glance

At the helm of the video vanguard.

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Profession: Music video director, artist, designer
Website: diptriana.com
Notables and Affiliations: ODDSAC (2010); B D Reel (2010); Luveas (2010); Black Dice projections
Danny Perez uses: Analog content detritus, Mac Pro, Final Cut Pro, After Effects, DVD Studio Pro, Sima SFX-11 video mixer