Spliced VHS weirdness from out West.
As promoters of club nights So Bones and UFO, and key players in the respected record store Idle Hands, for all round men about Bristol (and yes, actual twins) The Kelly Twins, their label Happy Skull seemed like the next logical step for them when it started back in 2013. Thus its released five 12″s, with efforts from Systems of Desire (Hyetal and Kowton), Throwing Shade, Rhythmic Theory and others broadly taking cues from Detroit Techno, although they’re just as laden with sonic quirks that reflect the DIY spirit of both the artists and the label.
For their sixth release, the twins have sought out the assistance of Creta Kano – who returns after his 2013 debut for Rotterdam’s Pinkman Records. He follows the loose aesthetic tied into the label, with a backbone of Motor City funk propping up some highly melodic tones, to render proceedings as emotive as they are groovy.
To visually accompany lead track ‘Skyway Motel‘, the Kelly’s roped in rising director Max Kelan – who’s been making a name for himself with his uniquely skewed videotape style clips for the likes of Hodge and Bristol’s enigmatic Hotline Records crew. A mesmeric mesh of hazy scenery and ultraviolet static, its earned the rare distinction of being one of the first video premieres on Hyponik in a while. Watch that video below, then scroll down to check out our chat with Max.
How are you and what are you up to today?
I’m alright thanks, today I’ve just been working at my day job and thinking about what videos I am going to do next.
The video for ‘Skyway Motel’ is very interesting. What was it about the music that inspired you on this one?
This particular track differed quite a bit from anything else I have done before, the aesthetic was definitely a lot softer and less “in your face” to what I’m usually used to, which was really refreshing. I felt that the track was very other worldly, so I thought it would be nice to give the video a similarly alien feel, whilst also aiming to capture the retro aspect.
You’ve got quite a unique process when it comes to video – for the uninitiated describe how you go about your work.
If I could describe my process in two words it would be unpredictable and destructive. All of my effects are created outside of software and computers, I find creating a piece strictly using a computer is very uninspiring. I degrade my footage using VHS players, I have several different cameras some of which are slightly broken (this adds a whole new layer to the look). Using old, shagged out equipment is great fun because you never know what mistakes could happen and how this will add to the footage.
What draws you to the VHS medium?
At the moment we are living in a time where people are beginning to care a hell of a lot less about the quality of media in general. Youtube seems to be one of the most popular means of listening to music and viewing music videos, which can often sound and look rubbish, so I guess my form low resolution is a slight critique and a homage to that. Our obsession with the physical format and our desire to hold on to physical media has disappeared and this directly inspires my practice in several ways.
Which artists and directors have you been influenced by?
God this is a tough one…
J.G Ballard’s book ‘Crash’ has definitely been a massive inspiration on my work, I am definitely obsessed with the fetishization of technology and I definitely think that book hits the nail on the head with that subject.
Other than that…
Throbbing Gristle: for helping me realise that music can open up the dark corners of the mind.
Gustav Metzger: The undisputed king of self destructive art.
Mark Rothko: for his rich colouring and total sense of dread (even if the dread was unintentional).
You’ve worked quite extensively with Hodge building a certain aesthetic that suits his music very well – how did you guys meet and what’s your working process like?
We just met through a mutual friend from Romania. It is nice because we both share similar interests in cyberpunk, 80’s sleaze and David Cronenberg.
Which artists (in music and video) from Bristol are you tipping at the moment?
O$VMV$M, John Bence, H, Ossia and Giant Swan are all making some pretty interesting music. In terms of video artists from Bristol – I really wish I knew who to mention, unfortunately I don’t, so if there is anyone in Bristol who is reading this and wants to collaborate or show me some cool bits please let me know.
Beyond video what other artistic endeavours are you pursuing?
I recently did an installation where I was using an induction mic and broken pieces of household equipment to create textures of static noise. My plan is to create music using the same techniques as my videos and then work towards a live performance.
Any future projects you can tell us about?
Doing a few more videos for some Bristol artists and a few for some in other parts of the world, but can’t really give out too much info at the moment, keep your eyes peeled though. Also at the end of the year I would like to release a DVD/VHS of all of my videos so far and perhaps use this as a platform to release other music and art.