Daniel Swan is a brilliant example of the strength, depth and diversity of the creativity within music video. A platform somehow continuously peaking in terms of what it offers to emerging, established and legendary artists. In Daniel we have an artist who constantly offers music video something new through the world of animation. Following on from the sci-fi fantastic RL Grimes collaboration we have the artistic ‘First Light’ for Django Django. It’s something we love to see at Word Is Cheap, a director brave enough to let an idea sit in its full glory matched by an artist bold enough to agree to do it.
Excited by where Daniel’s come from we sat down to find out the band’s involvement in the promo, the importance of perspective and where he sees himself going.
Word Is Cheap: How would you describe your style?
Daniel Swan: I’m not sure how to describe it – I like to work in different mediums and make things as varied as possible. Everything is ultimately tied together by my trying to pin down my obsessions, whether or not I know what they are at the time.
Was it hard convincing Django Django to take such an abstract route in their music video?
I had worked on a previous video for their single ‘hail bop’ with Django Django and that was a bit more traditionally weird than this one – they let me have free reign on ‘First Light’. I really like working with them, they are open to weird ideas and seeing interesting things play out.
How did you choose your environments? Are all they computer generated?
All the buildings are computer generated based on photo reccs. I wanted to suddenly bring the viewer out of the all-3d environment at one point and juxtapose it with a montage of camera footage for the break, to kind of blur the line a bit and shake it up so it doesn’t feel too comfortable.
What inspired you to focus on close-ups of buildings vs nature?
The idea was to show an inner-city environment from the perspectives of workers looking out of their windows, kind of a daydream compilation. I wanted to keep the shots very static, to start lost in a far-away sublime moment at first and then zoom out to the trapped single-perspective reality of it. The fractured-ness of beauty in cities is interesting, how some things can’t be seen directly but only scattered and distorted in reflections and the way daylight changes the feel of places massively throughout the day.
Having worked on all different kinds of projects: shorts, fashion, live visuals, music videos, where do you see yourself as a director?
I feel I still can’t fully call myself either an artist or a director at the moment but I find both equally satisfying areas to work in – I think I want to continue doing music videos and installations to some degree this year but also really want to start on some bigger personal film projects over the summer.