For a certain generation, many of our first memories of music are through their accompanying visuals. These strange bohemian faces that pop up on the television doing zombie dances or looking like a Rembrandt rendering are riveted onto our sensibilities and open the curtain to peer at the world of music that swirls beyond the visuals.
In recent years, Andrew Donoho has been at the forefront of the music video world, crafting a creative oeuvre as varied as any artist with his stunning sonic accompaniments. Most recently, he caused a stir with the pioneering new video for Paul McCartney’s ‘Find My Way’ featuring Beck. The video saw the legendary musician wind the clock back to 1964 through innovative technology that thrilled and bemused in equal measure, providing a captivating short film.
When we caught up with him, he described what it was like working with one of the Fab Four: “Oh my god, so great. Whoever said ‘Don’t meet your heroes’ has never met Paul McCartney. The guy was a bubbling ball of energy, creativity and life. He cracked more jokes than I could keep up with. I got to spend a few hours with him during the 3D scan of his face, and then the entire shoot day: both have become prized memories.”
Adding: “He embraced the ideas I presented and brought many of his own to the table. He arrived at the shoot with a bouquet of flowers because he wanted his five-second cameo to have a background story. Paul thinks about the details. The collaboration was honestly a dream come true in every capacity.”
While working alongside such huge stars from a different realm might seem daunting, Donoho has a creative method that keeps everything on an even keel, as he explains: “Occasionally a concept will come to mind right off the bat, but more often than not, I have to plant the seed of an idea and cultivate it. In the same way, I will often listen to specific songs while visualizing a script; I love to scan image libraries while brainstorming for a music video.”
Thus, as part of our discussion, he kindly selected what he considers to be the best music videos offered up throughout the ages. His selection couples both the new and old; featuring the old MTV classic of ‘Weapon of Choice’ by Fatboy Slim directed by Spike Jonze who has since turned his attention to films like Her and Where the Wild Things Are.
Likewise, the director also clearly reveals a love of Radiohead with his selection, which he happily admits, adding: “I’d offer up my future firstborn child to direct a video for Radiohead or any Thom Yorke project. Almost everyone has that artist that “changed their life”, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am without Radiohead.”
The ten greatest music videos of according to Andrew Donoho:
‘Gosh’ by Jamie XX – Directed by Romain Gavras
Back in 2015, Jamie XX was pioneering into a realm that dance music purists might call post-dubstep.
For this modernist jaunt director, Romain Garvas produced and equally futurist music video that looks like some sort of terrifying realisation of an Ayn Rand novel.
‘Sweatpants’ by Childish Gambino – Directed by Hiro Murai
The American obsession of scenes set in diners never seemed so lustrous as Childish Gambino jaunts through it on a loop before the middle eight in the music forces a change of tact upon Murai and he justly delivers a change-up.
‘Simple Math’ by Manchester Orchestra – Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (DANIELS)
Some music can simply make use of the emotional wallop of the music and craft a silent short film out of it.
With innovative imagery, the creative duo known as DANIELS formed an emotional masterpiece befitting of Manchester Orchestra’s swelling accompaniment.
‘Karma Police’ by Radiohead – Directed by Jonathan Glazer
Before he was rising to mass critical acclaim with the likes of Sexy Beast back in 2000, the all-around creative force of Jonathan Glazer was in the midst of a fruitful collaboration with Donoho’s favourite artist, Radiohead.
With this iconic 1997 video, Glazer offered a glimpse at the cinematic work to come.
‘Nobody Speak’ by DJ Shadow & Run the Jewels – Directed by Sam Pilling
“You wanna hear a good joke?” begins the song and what follows is as titillating as any you’ll catch on the comedy channels.
Sam Pilling’s dramatic effort for ‘Nobody Speak’ has been lauded from the VMA’s to Cannes and beyond.
‘Weapon of Choice’ by Fatboy Slim – Directed by Spike Jonze
It’s a video that would appear on most people’s lists. The iconic screen presence of Christopher Walken lent his dancing feet to this absolute classic and created a small piece of music video history.
If this clip doesn’t send you back to a specific time and place then you must simply be from the wrong generation. It’s part music video part peek into the zeitgeist from masterful filmmaker Spike Jonze.
‘Wyclef Jean’ by Young Thug – Directed by Pomp & Clout
Pomp & Clout are a rather enigmatic creative agency that described themselves as “a creative studio focused on concept, craft, and emerging technologies.”
It isn’t all that revealing, but when it comes to the Young Thug video, Donoho certainly asserts that they’ve crafted a forward-looking classic.
‘Rabbit in Your Headlights’ by Unkle ft. Thom Yorke – Directed by Jonathan Glazer
Another team-up between Glazer and his old Radiohead pal Thom Yorke, but this time with Unkle in the mix.
Starring Denis Lavant, it’s the sort of short outing that surely had a budget comparable to some indie movies these days, but you’d be hard pushed to say that the iconic imagery wasn’t worth it.
‘Come to Daddy’ by Aphex Twin – Directed by Chris Cunningham
Part of Aphex Twin’s artistic gestalt is the almost Eraserhead-esque imagery incorporated with his ambient sounds.
Naturally, therefore, the weirdness is turned up as loud as the bass drop for this disturbing accompaniment to ‘Come to Daddy’ from 1997.
‘Gold’ by Chet Faker – Directed by Hiro Murai
Donoho’s second Murai pick some cracking legs, top cinematography, and a fair few ‘how did they do that?’ moments to boot.
Murai is clearly an emerging talent in the field and one of the music video traits he has down to a fine art is offering up something mesmeric that stops the phone from sliding into your pocket and keeps you glued to the screen.