It’s about to get sci-fi surreal in here because Kadavre Exquis is. Gosh. Kadavre Exquis is the chosen one. Using music video as a platform the sci-fi-dreamin’ animator tells the story of one woman’s fight to save the Earth. Equateur provide the soundtrack to a world so visually rich it makes Thorin Oakenshield feel poor, a replay button so addictive it makes Smeagol seem laid back, A HERO SO SELFLESS BATMAN TOOK OFF HIS MASK. We jest but seriously, this guy has us hooked.
With an obviously in-depth understanding of colour, storytelling and who to let inspire you, Kadavre Exquis (real name François) created The Lava and Cheval Noir two-part story which forced us to find out who, where, what and why?? So we sat down and had a chat:
Word Is Cheap: How and why did you get into animation?
Kadavre Exquis: It just felt that way, but it took several years of graphic design studies to really understand what I wanted to do, but it always was there, I just did not learn animation the proper way, by studying it I mean and that is probably easy to feel that when you watch my animations.
What does Kadavre Exquis mean?
Kadavre Exquis comes from Cadavre Exquis aka Exquisite Corpse.
The “K” comes from a Reminiscence of Graffiti and it marks the difference with the regular orthograph.
I kept this because in my head, it kind of allowed me spiritually to do whatever I wanted, not only one specific stuff. Example – Studio Kadavre known only for graphic design.
I am in love with too many forms of art to be stuck to only one and it felt going right with my mentality I guess. However, is it really working? I am not sure but it became my signature.
What does music video as a platform mean to you?
For me, it is probably one of my favourite art form as a commissioned work. But as music business is not going so good, it is quite a dellusive hope for the next decade or even more propbably. But I made music videos more at a personnal level because I feel really close to the music world.
What is the definitive storyline of these animations?
Cheval Noir is the following episode of The Lava, the girl that escaped from the Robots is lead by a mysterious Horse that leads her to the center of the Earth, passing by ancient civilization to a holy lake where she melts with it and they become one.
Are you a big sci-fi fan? What is your favourite sci-fi film?
I am obviously a huge Sci-fi fan, it just came out naturally. For a long time, I was focused on strange children illustrations and film plots but I got tired of it quite fast, and I became fascinated with the sci-fi possiblilities.
It is quite hard to quote only one scifi film, because so many are so good.
Visually, Star Wars & Blade Runner are two big influences, but how couldn’t they be, with the concept artists heroes such as Ralph McQuarrie and Syd Mead. But I am fascinated with Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind especially the comic that I highly recommand, it is for me the Lord-of-the-ring-equal in comics. Those are classics, then, you have so many others, Wizards from Ralph Bakshi, and so many others, check my library.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
Probably those guys :
Syd Mead / McQuarrie / Moebius / Mézières / Miyazaki / Ralph Bakshi / Joe Johnston / Disney / Franquin / etc It is so hard to quote them all, but any big sci-fan couldn’t skip mentioning some of those names, others are more personnal of course.
Your story boards are quite in-depth, how much changes during creation from the original idea?
Everything changes a lot, my own storyboards for my own projects are very blurry, I only attach a lot of importance to it when I am working with specific clients or bigger projects. So there are quite a lot of changes ! But, when I am focusing on a story like the Equateur’s episodes, I am more focused on the mood and the feeling you have while watching against story, some said it is bad, I am loosing some views for sure because of it, but that’s the way I like to create things, also, because of budgets and deadlnes, when you are alone on a large-scaled and ambitious project, you try your best, and try to kind of succeed getting your audience happy with what you have.
Colour plays a distinct part in your work, especially Lava and Cheval Noir, how would you describe your colour pallette?
Colour just comes naturally, Lava had to be redish of course, and I really wanted the second episode to be a cold green-blue in response to the first episode.
Are there any plans for more collaborations with EQUATEUR?
Not for now and it is probably time for us to make our way on different paths from now on. We made a incredible adventure in doing those animations, it was very ambitious for indie projects to do sthg like that. But we both need to refresh on sthg else now, which I think is understandable.
Where do you hope your animation skills will lead you? What’s your current end goal?
That’s a good question. I did not really think of it except that at some point, I will need to work only for me, I have some nice collab projects, but nothing sure, I am constantly looking for time and the people I want ot work with are too.
The ultimate end goal would be a feature film but it is going to take some time to think about and have the guts to take some time out working on it.