Singer-songwriter Ashnikko has always been known for their irreverent visuals as much as they have for their pop-glitch sound, so it’s to no surprise that she tapped Raman Djafari, a Hamburg-based illustrator, animator and filmmaker for her latest video Worms, produced by Blinkink. What comes from it is a perfect marriage between two artists, both equally enhancing the other’s creative vision. “The concept all started with an outline of the narrative that Ashnikko and their creative director Vasso Vu developed around the album,” Raman tells It’s Nice That. The references throughout the videos are plentiful, too, being part-Mad Max, part-Pieter Brueggel, part-Bjork and part-Caravaggio. “In the beginning, I wanted to focus on layer where organic life hides away from the Weedkillers, focusing in community and care,” Raman explains. “Next, I thought about the process of transformation, showing how Ash becomes this elven mecha hybrid battle angle.” With so much to toy around with, Raman put their skills to the test to come up with something true to the core of the video. Namely, that is, the monster truck which Ashnikko rides throughout.
“The monster truck and the lyrics pushed me more towards focusing on a pivotal moment that embodies the core conflict of this world,” Raman says. “That’s how I ended up with this battle.” Overwhelming clusters of bodies crashing in to each other, akin to Pieter Bruegel’s The Fall of the Rebel Angels, infiltrate the frames, harbouring in an overwhelming sense of discord and maximalism. “The overly layered, chaotic, almost illegible battle scene of Bruegel really captured my thoughts,” Raman says. “I liked that it felt so wasteful, so overly abundant in every aspect. I wanted that for the video. I wanted to create a world that stretches way beyond the boundaries of the music video.” While the video contains these elements of the Bruegel painting, it also strays from taking itself too seriously. “I wanted it to be fun and a bit quirky,” Raman tells us. “It’s over the top.”
The union of live action and faux-claymation is a fantastical spectacle in the video itself, and to much surprise the pairing offered little challenges to Raman. “I was blessed to had my VFX supervisor John Malcom Moore on the project, he made sure we had everything we needed in each take to make the worlds merge seamlessly,” Raman explains. “Same with the DOP Hunter Daly and the set designer Laura Little.” Having worked with faux-claymation style for a few years now, Raman knows just how to bring a warmth and lovable imperfection to the 3D animation field. “I feel like there is something vulnerable and tangible in the tactileness of the textures and the puppet-like movement,” he says. “Also, I just think it made for a visually more interesting take on a sci-fi dystopia, which we are so used to seeing represented in a hyper realistic CG look.”
Overall, the collaboration with Ash and Vasso is what stood out to Raman the most. “It was really beautiful in general,” he says. “I felt really valued and seen as an equal, which meant a lot to me as I really admire their work.”
GalleryRaman Djafari: Ashnikko, Worms (Copyright © Blinkink, 2023)
Raman Djafari: Ashnikko, Worms (Copyright © Blinkink, 2023)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.