Kezia Gabriella and Nicholas Oh visualise feelings of isolation and melancholia in their latest music video
The duo created the narrative and made stylistic and technical decisions based solely on how the song – Float Away by The Greeting Committee – made them feel.
- 9 September 2021
- Ruby Boddington
- Reading Time
- 4 minutes
When creating a music video, there are several routes you can go down. Do you directly visualise the lyrics? Do you go for something more stylised or even abstract? Do you turn it into a short film, unrelated to the song itself? When you throw animation into the mix, the possibilities become even greater. So when Kezia Gabriella and Nicholas Oh (AKA Antinormal) were tasked with creating a video for Float Away by The Greeting Committee, the duo used their medium of animation to do what live-action can’t: visualise how the song makes them feel.
The pair – who have been collaborating since 2019, having initially met at art school in Singapore – began by sitting down and listening to the song on loop, individually recording how certain parts made them feel. “That helped us imagine the visuals and the flow of the music video,” Nicholas explains. “Even for the movement and the transitions, we rely heavily on the emotions that the song evokes.” Kezia adds that since she first heard the music, she knew the video would need “an experimental, melancholic feeling to it. For me, the song feels like reading a diary, in your bedroom, and it’s dark and raining heavily outside, and you just go down the rabbit hole full of overthinking, uncertainty and doubts.” It’s a haunting, isolated feeling that “makes you feel like you’re drowning, but somehow the water feels warm like a blanket.”
One lyric, in particular, set the narrative for the video. “There is this line ‘Stale rye, once an apple’s eye’, which is a way of saying that life used to have so much potential, and now everything just slips away,” Kezia recalls. This prompted the decision to have viewers follow an avatar of Addie (the vocalist of The Greeting Committee) on a journey to find acceptance. “It started from being locked in a house, drowning in a sea and coming back to the surface, walking through wilting trees and warped objects, and back to the room again, as if life is in a constant loop with no other way to escape,” Kezia continues. We end with “a revelation that the confined house turns out to be a self-imposed state of isolation, as the avatar looks up to a giant version of herself, creating a slightly eerie and ambiguous ending.”
This non-linear flow is one of Nicholas’ favourite parts of the film, he adds: “It was more of the idea of being engulfed in a moment and letting that feeling carry you, hence floating away. We focus more on the character being transferred to different places and her lack of reaction to her surroundings, which in turn demonstrates her being disconnected and going with the flow without much resistance.”
The animation was produced through a myriad of traditional animation techniques and more innovative digital processes. There’s an organic, handmade feel to the video, which is impressive when you consider Nicholas used Blender to create much of the visuals. Describing the process as one of trial and error, he explains how “3D softwares have a tendency to produce a more polished and refined look, so I had to work backwards, such as intentionally making asymmetrical and wobbly shapes, or adding grittiness into the texturing.” Although this proved tricky, working digitally was still much more efficient and “gave us an opportunity to explore what we can do with 3D space, despite the normal assumption that 3D softwares are too limiting.” What’s more, it means the video breaks free from the perspective it starts with at times, providing moments of surprise and intrigue.
Where Nicholas handled the translation of character design into 3D space, Kezia looked after directing, storyboarding and painting the background. “I still wanted to make the video look like ‘every frame a painting’, hence I did the background traditionally using oil pastel, coloured pencils and acrylic paint,” she says. “The paintings were then scanned and combined in Photoshop. After that, we added the character animation from Blender and did the effects later in After Effect.” In turn, the video flits between styles and techniques, adding to the sense that you are shifting in and out of reality, unsure of what is actually happening.
On what she hopes viewers will take from watching Float Away, Kezia says it’s mainly a sense that they are not alone in the feelings of isolation, loneliness and confusion they may have felt during the pandemic. “I hope the video managed to deliver a sense of peace and acceptance that we would like to convey,“ she adds. Nicholas says that he is content with people simply supporting what they do as independent creatives, but that he too hopes “viewers feel comforted by the visual and the music.”
GalleryAntinormal: Float Away by The Greeting Committee (Copyright © Antinormal, 2021)
Antinormal: Float Away by The Greeting Committee (Copyright © Antinormal, 2021)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.