Windmill, Dan Friel: Thrill Jockey Records. process sketch 01

Dan Friel is a ground-breaking Brooklyn musician in the electronic genre. He also has awesome hair and is a really, really nice person. Here’s what Pitchfork has to say about him:

“As one of dual frontmen in Parts & Labor, Dan Friel takes the disobedient squeals of keyboards and other sundry electronics and marries them to more familiar contexts, making otherwise jaw-clenching noise surprisingly palatable while helping the two- to three-chord punk anthem sound new again.”

With his first release on Thrill Jockey Records coming out this winter, Dan asked me to come up with a video for one of the tracks. The creative direction: do whatever you want. How often do you hear that?

At first I thought this was a blessing, but I’ve since discovered the other edge to that sword:

Too. Many. Ideas.

My first thought was to create a series of really abstract animations, with the music’s expressions to guide me. This is easier said than done for someone who makes a living shaping abstracts into concrete messaging, rather than the other way around.

The name of the track is Windmill, and the sounds evoke the image of spinning. So I began with an exercise of sketching things that spin, both representational and abstract. Some of these I developed into short looping animations:

another quick sketch:

What I like about these: the key to getting these right would be playing with the speed. It lends a different kind of intimacy to objects when you see them moving more slowly than in real life. And with hand drawn animation, you develop that relationship with the line itself. It becomes it’s own character, not just a representational device.

What I don’t like about these: off the bat, they don’t convey the energy of Dan’s music. Granted, these are just preliminary sketches, but I think this direction would require breaking up the screen in some interesting ways. And color. Lots of it.