For this week’s My Favourite Music Video we were lucky enough to get the pickings of Igor Haefeli of Daughter, the musical collective he fronts with Elena Tonra and Remi Aguilella. Together, the band are quickly making a name for themselves performing their haunting melodies and gorgeously broody sounds on stages as diverse as in front of the Tate’s recent exhibition Ruin Lust. Here he is explaining why he chose the eclectic mishmash that is The Avalanches video for Frontier Pyschiatrist, directed by Kuntz and Macquire.
Daughter – The Avalanches: Frontier Psychiatrist
When I first discovered The Avalanches, ten years after the release of their one and only LP Since I Left You, I was amazed by the multi-coloured stream of music coming out of my speakers. Made nearly exclusively out of samples from musical and spoken word records as well as movies and TV shows, it wasn’t exactly revolutionary. DJ Shadow for example had already famously explored the art of making an entire record out of samples with the equally amazing Endtroducing. Although I had Josh Davis’ boundary-pushing debut on repeat as a teenager, the Australian band’s full-length felt to me a little more like a real celebration of this dark art I had been fascinated by through hip-hop and remixes.
The art of “recycling” music in order to create something new is such an interesting concept and a really beautiful thought I believe. What still strikes me to this day with Since I Left You is the amazing range achieved by piecing together these seemingly unrelated bits of compositions and performances. It gives a multi-faceted, kaleidoscopic edge to the album. The record is similar to a roller-coaster with each track having its own twist and turns, and you go from something blue to terribly fun within a minute. It’s no surprise that Frontier Psychiatrist was chosen as the single. It’s a perfect representation of the album and such a thrilling song to listen to with its extensive use of spoken word samples, which effectively all end up being individual hooks.
I’m taking so much time to talk about the actual music because it seems to me like Tom Kuntz probably did as well; it looks like he worked very hard at representing what a schizophrenic and crazy piece of music Frontier Psychiatrist really is. For a musician it’s a huge amount of effort to sample and piece all those bits together. Like many art forms, you need to be a little mad to go through the whole process, and Kuntz paid an equal amount of attention to what had been done and then put it all to pictures in his own twisted way. I can’t think of many music videos portraying the song word for word – a mean feat, especially considering that the song apparently has samples from 37 different spoken word records!
The director followed the craziness and emphasised it to point where you feel you’ve entered the (brilliant) mind of a complete madman. I can only imagine the amount of work it must have taken him and the team during the shooting and editing. The grain of the film and the lighting fit the spooky, crackly atmosphere of the song so well. Without wanting to spoil too much for those who haven’t seen it, there’s a choir of ghosts, and a turtle with an old man’s head, and a dwarf dressed as a baby… The result is a four minute and 20 second-long parade of insanity that I’ve kept coming back to with no shame or remorse. I always end up spotting something I hadn’t seen before. And it makes me happy. And then I watch it again. And I hope you will too.