We have a challenge for you: Watch Meat Dept’s latest video and try and keep a straight face. Chances are you probably can’t…
A weird and wacky music video created to accompany French musician Igorrr's track,Very Noise, it may surprise you to hear that there is a quite a serious meaning behind it – amidst all the madness.
“Very Noise is an attempt to transcribe on video the synthesis of numerous testimonies of stroke victims that we have collected over the past few years,” explains David Nicolas of Meat Dept. “About 3/4 of the stroke victims are heterosexual white males over 50 years old, and the visions that arise from these experiences are in common with the neuroses of this category of the population. Identity disorder, existential anxieties linked to erection problems, transfer phenomenon to a more sporty image of the father, a burning desire for extreme but playful activities such as motocross or solo rock climbing…”
What on the face of it seems to be impossible to link together, was actually created with a lot of consideration and much thought. “The notion of figurative abstraction is also very significant in the stories, it is a form of link between two ideas that challenge each other, one could speak of a remedy for cognitive dissonance generated by overlapping fantasies,” explains David.
Bearing in mind the serious subject matter underpinning the project, Meat Dept have approached it in a typically humorous and open manner. “We just opened our psychic channel and went fishing for ideas,” recalls Laurent Nicolas. “We basically took the ideas as they came and translated them instantly into images, without any filter or thinking, like the “cadavre exquis.” Then we connected the dots to create some kind of story and everything made sense.”
The team behind Meat Dept are David Nicolas, Laurent Nicolas and Kevin Van Der Meiren, who's varied backgrounds across animation, design, art and film have proved quite a prolific combination. As a collective they have previously had a short film premiere at Sundance and produced idents for Adult Swim, alongside their own personal film and music video projects. They are currently working on their first series too, entitled Black Holes, which has been signed by a US television network.
Looking through their portfolio, it is clear that the team has a unique way of looking at things, that manifests itself in such intriguing work. Their process that facilitates this seems to be one which snowballs from one idea: “The deal with Igorrr was total freedom. We started from a motion capture bug in a loop David was working on: the chewing gum character on the boxing ring. Then we improvised and built around it, with a lot of experiments,” explains Kevin. “Then what’s important in our approach is the attitude we have towards the variety of tools and techniques we’re using. Technology plays a very important part in our process. We are as excited about the technology as the art itself. We love to play around with new tools and push them to their limits. As we said, the starting point of the video was some weird bugs and distortions in motion capture movements. From this technical problems can sometimes arise interesting forms. You have to be open to that kind of discovery.”
When they were approached by Igorrr, the team were experimenting for an exhibition that focussed on loops. David explains that this was where the collaboration began: “At the time we were preparing an exhibition of living paintings, made of loops, basically an animation sequence that loops perfectly and can be watched endlessly,” he says. “Gautier (that’s his name) loved the concept, but listening to the track, we were really disconcerted. It’s very violent and unpredictable.”
The fast and varied nature of the track itself is obviously something that drives the visuals, and many of the scenes are directly synced to the beat - something that Meat Dept considered important. “Of course, especially for a track like Very Noise, it’s all about rhythm. Towards the end of the process, we adjusted the cuts together with Gautier and he tweaked the music a little bit and added some sound design to make it perfectly fit with the images,” says Laurent. “Some say he’s a genius but he’s just a maniac really! Jokes aside, it was great working with him. Great guy!”
The video has had an amazing reception so far, with millions of views on Youtube and the inevitable reaction videos alongside them. Famous fans of the piece also include Mike Judge, someone that Meat Dept hugely admires.
Based on the success of Very Noise, attention turns to where they go next. We ask them if any of the characters may make an appearance again in the future, to which Kevin responds: “Haha! The Grandpa biker is definitely coming back…”
GalleryMeat Dept - Very Noise (Igorrr)
Meat Dept - Very Noise (Igorrr)
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.