Adam & Joe’s Adam Buxton On His Favourite Music Videos

Adam Buxton talks to The Quietus about his music video project BUG and selects some of his favourite music videos from Hot Chip, Major Lazer, Ladyscraper, Peter, Bjorn and John, Chemical Brothers, Blur and Radiohead.

After the immense success of Chanel 4’s Adam & Joe Show, the maturing pair brought their buoyant, fresh-faced (though occasionally bearded), humour to BBC 6 Music where they now host the stations most popular show. One half of the lovable japesters, Adam Buxton, has been heavily involved in promoting the wealth of talent currently involved in making music videos with his touring show BUG.

Launched in April 2007, BUG is a bi-monthly event at the BFI Southbank that celebrates all things music video oriented from around the world. Screening a spectrum of videos from mega-budget mainstream videos, BUG also offers big screen exposure to lo-fi, no-budget projects that may have gone under the radar.

From its phenomenal success at its BFI home, BUG has taken its evangelical mission of video love to the road, screening at sold out shows across the UK. Events like BUG are important for they’re not only increasing exposure of under-valued video artists, but it supports the entire system of independent production and distribution essential to creative independence.

A large part of the event’s draw is Adam Buxton’s hilarious observations and obvious passion for the media. The Quietus managed to speak to him ahead of his Manchester show on 18 May at Zion Arts Theatre about which videos have stood out and made an impression on him over the years.

Before he gets going, here’s a brilliant clip from BUG of Adam looking at YouTube comments:

Adam Buxton: I suppose the first video I remember seeing that made an impression and made me think music videos were interesting and cool was Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel which was an animated video by Aardman, who of course went on to do Wallace and Gromit. It was just a mind-blowing feat of stop motion with all kind of mixed media animation. I’d never seen anything like it, no one really had at that point. Most videos were just performance videos; there was certain amount of Michael Jackson-y type stuff that was coming out that was good. I quite like funny videos, Man At Work and things like that, they did some funny stuff. I’d never really seen a mainstream video that you could call an art video, nd this one was really a work of art, and also highly entertaining.

I don’t know what it was, but in the olden days people didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humour when it came to music videos. It came down to clowning basically. Now people are much more sophisticated with their funny videos. Peter Serafinowicz recently did a very funny for Hot Chip, I Feel Better, and it was a very funny video with a comedian in it called Ross Lee, and he plays a character people on the internet call Cancer Jesus, he’s like a bald, messianic, emaciated vicar in a white mock so it looks like he’s just come out of chemo. And he gets on stage and starts grooving around with these people in a very convincing JLS type boy band way.

I’m sure Peter [Serafinowicz] wouldn’t mind me saying the Hot Chip video was influenced by Tim and Eric, who are an American comedy duo. There’s a guy called Eric Wareheim, who was one of Tim And Eric. Eric Wareheim’s YouTube channel is well worth checking out as it’s got lots of very funny music videos. There’s one for Major Lazer called Pon De Floor that’s very funny indeed, that’s just a load of people doing daggering, a form of dancing in Jamaica, it’s people humping each other and humping the floor and jumping from ladders in between each other’s legs.

Major Lazer “Pon De Floor” from Eric Wareheim on Vimeo.

I quite like ones that are just demented. There’s one for a band named Ladyscraper called Bad Ketchup. It’s just got two transformers playing drums. It’s a very short tack, only a minute or something and the music’s just industrial noise, but very good. It’s directed by Dan Ghile and Wayne Adams, who is Ladyscraper.

And of course Cyriak Harris, he’s the king of things being weird, interesting, funny and beautiful to look at. He’s an animator who’s based in Brighton. He taught himself how to use After Effects about five years ago because he was bored in the office. He got fired form his job, mainly because I think he spent most of his time dossing around on the computer and now he’s amazing. All his stuff is worth checking out, he does his own music as well, but the music is secondary to the videos really, it’s like a childish version of Aphex Twin. But his videos are incredibly intricate, but also quite cartoonish and childlike. He’s really into quite mind bending animated loops and stuff. There’s one of his called Cycles, which is very good.

There a guy called Andreas Nilsson and he is Swedish and he makes a lot of very funny videos, there’s one by Peter Bjorn And John called Nothing To Worry About which is a bunch of Japanese rockers in Yoyogi Park which is a park in Tokyo where everyone goes and just cocks around. People dressing up in insane manga costumes and stuff all go and congregate and parade their costumes in front of one another. And these ludicrous biker gangs go and hang out there and parade around in their leathers. He basically filmed one member of this biker gang, who’s this out of shape, middle-aged rocker guy with a pompadour hairstyle that’s literally about a foot an a half high. He shows him spraying it and getting it ready and going out to meet the rest of he gang. Then they do a bit of grooving in Yoyogi Park all nicely choreographed, and it fits very nicely with the track.

I tend to like videos that have obviously just had a lot of work gone into them. I quite like pretentious arty ones as well. I love the animated ones. There’s one called Grindin’ by a band called Nobody Beats The Drum that’s incredible, the director’s a guy called Rogier van der Zwaag. He’s animated these blocks; it’s basically coloured blocks against a black background and he’s projected different coloured light onto some of the blocks and then taken a series of stills of all these blocks moving in different patterns, then he’s reflected it to give the blocks a kind of an electrical hue, it’s really successful. It’s very simple, but it clearly took him fucking ages. It looks like a computer animation, but it’s not.

Occasionally you get funny performance videos that are good. I like one-shot videos where somebody gets an idea and they just execute the whole thing in one shot somehow. There’s one called Rip by a band called zZz that’s directed by a Dutch artist called Roel Wouters. He’s just filmed people on a trampoline from above and then there’s a guy painting a horizontal line at the bottom of the frame to mirror a progress bar, like you get on a YouTube video. He was invited to remake it as a car advert, but he declined so they went ahead and did it anyway.

The other one that made an impression was Alphabet Street by Prince, which you can’t see on YouTube because he doesn’t want his music on there – you can see the video but you can’t see it with the actually song playing. That was a great video, and really great song. You get everything coming together; you get a great performance from the Purple Ponce and it’s a wonderful and a really stark nice looking video, which looks dated now, just a white background and graphic-y letters flying around, but at the time it was very original and forward looking and striking.

And then after that I wasn’t really fussed about music videos for quite sometime, I don’t think people made very interesting videos for quite a while. It was weird, all my favourite bands, like the Pixies, all through the 90s, they weren’t really making good videos, it just didn’t occur to people. I think because there was so much money sloshing around in those days, the only people that made music videos were the really heavy hitters, the Janet Jacksons and the Jamiroquais and people spending millions and millions. Chris Cunningham was doing stuff, but that was towards the end of the 90s. In the mid-90s it got good again. There were some good videos with Brit pop, and then Michel Gondry started to get prolific and that was really amazing. Garth Jennings’ Coffee and TV video for Blur was one that really made a big impression, and made me think, ‘holy shit, that’s great, that’s what I want to do.’ That was one that really knocked me out.

Coffee & TV

Dave | Myspace Video

That was the same sort of time I saw the Michel Gondry’s video Let Forever Be by The Chemical Brothers, which I think is possibly the best video ever made, in my opinion. It still stands up really well. The track is okay, but the video fits so perfectly with it and the ideas in it are just mind-blowing and they’re executed so cleverly and seamlessly. I would say Let Forever Be is my all time favourite.

Another great one recently, one that must have taken hours and hours to work, is the Radiohead video for Weird Fishes by a guy called Tobias Stretch, an American and lives up in the Appalachians. He makes all these strange puppets and animates them out in the mountains and takes still photos of them, it’s just great and completely original, I’ve not seen anything like it really. Again it fits perfectly with the track; clearly made for the track and inspired by the track. Sometimes people just get an idea and bolt it on to any old song, but this one was clearly inspired.

We had a competition once for people to make videos for our songs on our radio show. It was won by a guy called Chris Salt who did one for a song called Jane’s Brain. It was a piece of Lego animation, which of course is a big thing on YouTube. But he was pretty much the king as far as I’m aware, and he’s done quite a few Lego videos, which are great. He’d been doing stuff before, but that was early on in his Lego animating career.

BUG’s Manchester special edition on 18 May is now sold out except for some free golden tickets available through Diesel stores as part of The Diesel School of Island Life. All you need to do is go into to your local Diesel store and collect a passport which will give you free entry! More more info see dieselisland

Check out the BUG site for upcoming dates and further information

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