DHMIS’ Charlie Pelling on the visual universe behind cartoon indie band, Dirty Nice

The Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared composer has built an indie band with musician Mark Thompson that operates almost like a “TV channel”, with its own shows and music videos.

Date
7 September 2023

In the lead up to the release of its second album, Surrenderland, the musical duo Dirty Nice has been putting out a fair few music videos. Each one is unique in theme and style – one explores owners and their pets, the next some happy shoes – but they’re all part of the same visual universe, which makes sense when you consider another of Charlie’s gigs, working as a composer for the expansive series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.

Charlie and Mark have created a recurring cast of characters as part of the Dirty Nice Cinematic Universe and the new music video for the single Shark! features many of these characters in motion. But the visual side of Dirty Nice extends well beyond music videos into everything from comics to short animations.

“When I was younger, I used to animate lots of weird little creatures fighting each other Tekken-style,” Charlie tells us. “During lockdown I decided to relearn animation using Photoshop and it all came back pretty easy. That’s when we started putting out lots of dumb cartoons online, just leaning into making things that were rough and ready, and made us laugh, especially when every band nowadays is required to also become social media influencers.”

Dirty Nice: Shark! (Copyright © Dirty Nice, 2023)

The aesthetic of quick hand-drawn animation – done on “a cheap little tablet” – quickly became a signature for Dirty Nice, and the Surrenderland visuals are no different. The album explores themes of youth, originality and letting go, making for a good fit.

While the music and visual elements might seem hard to package together, Charlie likes to see them as two sides of the same coin. “[It’s] like getting a weird little mixtape with a magazine, or like the punk zine movement – a visual style that rises from the music and vice versa.” That’s how Dirty Nice sets itself apart. “We like treating ourselves as our own little TV channel with lots of weird shows and music videos.”

Audiences can watch Shark! above and find more stories from the Dirty Nice world over on Instagram.

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Dirty Nice: Shark! (Copyright © Dirty Nice, 2023)

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Dirty Nice: Senor Quex (Copyright © Dirty Nice)

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Dirty Nice: Dummy (Copyright © Dirty Nice)

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Dirty Nice: Dummy (Copyright © Dirty Nice)

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Dirty Nice: Missing (Copyright © Dirty Nice)

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Copyright © Dirty Nice

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Copyright © Dirty Nice

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Copyright © Dirty Nice

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Dirty Nice: Shark! (Copyright © Dirty Nice, 2023)

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Dirty Nice: Martin (Copyright © Dirty Nice)

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Dirty Nice: Doctor (Copyright © Dirty Nice)

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Dirty Nice: Doctor (Copyright © Dirty Nice)

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Dirty Nice: Shark! (Copyright © Dirty Nice, 2023)

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Dirty Nice: Surrenderland (Copyright © Dirty Nice, 2023)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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