Playlist: Arni Thor Jonsson
The Dark Energy director rejoices in the epic music videos of the '80s, rates his Moleskine Smart Pen and once cast Iceland's PM as a milkshake-making expert.
What’s the best music video you’ve seen recently and why?
I guess the last really great music video that totally held my interest was Singularity by Jon Hopkins, directed by Seb Edwards. It was crazy stylish, complimented the great track superbly and was, at the same time, highly entertaining. I had been religiously listening to Jon Hopkins' album prior to this video being released and usually I am a hard critic on video accompanying great tracks. This, however, absolutely stunned me.
I also loved the Alt-J /Pleader video directed by Isaiah Seret. Stunning visual feast with a strong emotional narrative and again complimenting the track brilliantly. Oh, and obviously the Childish Gambino video… I mean… that raised the bar. Funnily enough, I never really liked the track.
What’s the first music video you remember being impressed by?
It has to be the epic music videos done in the 80s. In particular, the Ultravox videos. Maybe the first to impress me was Reap the Wild Wind, making me envious of their travels and adventures, me being seven years old. Also, Vienna was terrifying yet so intriguing.
And what’s your all-time favourite music video?
Beastie Boys' Sabotage. Great homage to cop TV shows, pure fun to watch and really reflects the attitude of the band.
What other directors/artists do you look to for inspiration?
Of contemporaries in my field, I am a big fan of Salomon Lighthelm, Seb Edwards and Isaiah Seret. I think they are really talented and they totally give me inspiration. My all-time favourite directors or film-makers are, in no particular order, P.S. Anderson, Coen Bros, Kubrick, Leon Carax and recently I have been massively impressed by Pawel Pawlikowski. I have also been involved with music since I was a tiny kid - I've done radio, DJ’d and written for music mags, and very often look for inspiration through listening to music. Boccherini, Rival Consoles, Colter Wall or Tropical F*** Storm to name a few.
Cold War, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
What are you listening to at the moment?
I have been a big fan of Cactus Blossoms, a band that is spearheaded by two brothers from Minnesota. Their pure Americana and nostalgic mood is really astonishing, and their vocal harmonies are beautiful. Also been captivated by pure country tunes by the young Canadian named Colter Wall.
What’s your favourite bit of tech, whether for professional or personal use?
Not a huge tech guy to be honest, but I got recently into using Moleskine Smart pen. It allows me to use the good old pen for notes, storyboards and etc…and it goes directly into my smartphone. It comes in handy for sharing boards or notes to my key people. I am not sure however, whether this tech is going to be long lived for me, we’ll see.
What artist(s) would you most like to work with and why?
I'd love to work with Jon Hopkins, as his music is so insanely visual. When listening to his music, my mind goes to work.
How do you feel the music video industry has changed since you started in it?
I think the biggest change is that the artists or musicians do this for passion more and more. They finance it themselves, as opposed to record labels spending too much on production. Therefore it goes without saying, that artists are way more involved into the creative aspect of it which is usually great! But obviously not in all cases, as egos can clash sometimes, right?
Music videos have had a resurgence of late; where do you see the industry being in five years’ time?
Internet websites and services like YouTube have obviously helped make this resurgence happen, which is great. Music videos give the artists substance and can obviously elevate their status. I think the industry will be quite similar. There will always be the will from artists to make videos, and there will always be people that watch them, albeit just on other platforms than TV. In addition, music videos is a format that helps young film makers get their chance. Show what they can do. Lately though, a lot of quality, high level directors have done music videos to break from the norm a little, as for example, advertising opportunities dwindle in our current market. That may continue in the foreseeable future, and therefore if anything, music videos might in fact only get better.
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know…
Although not totally unknown, my first music video I made [Bang Gang Listen Baby] featured the current Prime Minister of Iceland [Katrín Jakobsdóttir] as the lead talent. She played a woman that was an expert in making milkshakes. So good were they and so sought after that the band members stalked her and chased her a long way to get a sip of the milkshake. She was 19 or so when she played the part. Oh, the 90s… good times.