#THROWBACK THURSDAY INTERVIEW – KRIS MOYES x SIA – TEXT LUKE BATHER
Sia is experiencing something of a musical and visual renaissance at the moment. Her current video collaborations with director Daniel Askill, for songs Chandelier and Elastic Heart, focus on the incredible dancing ability of Maddie Ziegler as well as the added intense performance and star power of Shia LaBeouf. In her latest aesthetic guise, Sia is markedly absent from her videos, and often obscures her face for performances and public appearances.
Eight years ago, however, she wasn’t quite so averse to the idea of showing her face, even going as far as putting it front and centre in this video for Buttons. Using everything from clothes pegs, tape and condoms, she distorts her face in this clip that’s quite stylistically reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s famous sledgehammer video. Of course, this video goes off in a completely different thematic direction from Sledgehammer, challenging the beauty standards of the day (a move made bolder by having the video premiere on Perez Hilton’s blog).
We asked Director Kris Moyes to look back on this video with us and share a few behind-the-scenes snaps.
WORD IS CHEAP: What are your feelings looking back on Sia ‘Buttons’?
KRIS MOYES: I think that Sia would agree that Button’s marked a leap forward for the both of our careers together and separately. I’m very thankful that Sia had the balls to give me carte Blanche with all our projects.
WIC: What was your inspiration behind the video?
KM: I like to think that I came up with the idea using my imagination but I’ve just started thinking that maybe it was a mate who emailed me an image of a man’s dick strapped up like roast beef, and the image stuck in my head… either way it was originally for Beth Ditto of The Gossip. Long after the release of Buttons, a dear friend, who is an LA director, sent me a photo of Pee Wee Herman with sticky tape on his face. I never grew up watching his show in Australia, but I think it is cool that Pee Wee and I think alike.
WIC: How involved was Sia in the development of the video’s concept/look?
KM: Sia was not involved with the development of the concept or the look, in fact this idea was not originally intended for her at all. She is super generous and I stayed with her in Los Feliz for a while…this was when I signed to The Directors Bureau and Lana, the head of music videos, asked me to write a proposal for The Gossip. I was at Sia’s house, working on the dining room table and Sia was watching TV. She asked what I was doing, and I explained that I wanted to make an anti-pop video for Beth by showing her beauty in a way that was at odds with pop culture and she loved it so much that she was willing to pay me to make it for one of her songs. In short, it was a rejected idea that I later made for a song that was not even going to be on Sia’s album, initially. It was only after the online success of Buttons that the song became one of the many great features of her album.
WIC: In hindsight, is there anything you’d have done differently?
KM: I would make sure that Mike Maguire gives me his approval to us filming in his house, while he was out of town, beforehand. Haha! I was super inexperienced and independent until that point so I had no fucking idea what I was doing. I never studied directing or filmmaking. I came from a fine arts university degree, majoring in photography and sculpture and later – time based art, so I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew is that whatever I was doing was working.
WIC: What was the video’s reaction at the time?
KM: Perez Hilton got his hands on it and it went spastic viral but I think that upload was replaced by the one on Sia’s YouTube or Vevo channel today.
WIC: How did this video impact your career?
KM: Um, well I think it was definitely well received but it never won any awards (which I like). I think it inspired a Cadbury’s commercial (with the eyebrows) and Pat Daughter’s Grizzly Bear video “Two Weeks”, so I think it definitely impacted the careers of other’s haha. It’s a good little video, shot on a shit camera, in someone’s apartment, at a time in my life when things were a bit freer, but I think it is my other work that had more impact on my career, definitely. Buttons did mark the beginning of my 4 video streak with Sia, which was an adventure all of its own.
WIC: How has your style developed since this video?
KM: I constantly draw my creative energy from pushing myself into uncertainty. The risk of failure is greater but so are the rewards. Einstein once said “A person who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
WIC: Considering Sia is the focal point of this video, how do you feel about recent videos and performances in which she removes herself almost entirely?
KM: I don’t think that Sia is the focal point in this video. I mean, sure she is in the picture, but I think that the focal point of the video is the message that there is beauty and sex appeal in the ugly, which I hope inspired Lena Dunham to write “Girls”, but I highly doubt it haha.
WIC: What’s currently going on in the world of Kris Moyes?
KW: I have been immersed in 5 separate and fascinating screenplays that I have in feature film development. I am beginning an intensive research workshop which I have in development at a Filmmakers in Residence Program with Cinereach in NYC which is about manipulating human emotions using the psychology of Cinema. If there are any professors reading this, especially from EZTH Zürich or any TED fellows, please contact me. I am just finishing off a new music video for a dry talented young Australian actor, Jamie Timony, who performs as Mossy. We just filmed the interior of a Lava tube in the Mojave National Preserve this past week. It is going to be wonderful.
SIA – ‘BUTTONS’ BEHIND THE SCENES