RUFFMERCY TALKS DIRECTING – TEXT EMILY HARRISON
RUFFMERCY has created such a unique and distinctive video style you can see a video and immediately recognize it to be one of his own. His illustrative style perfectly melds with the rhymes and beats of hip-hop duo Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J’s latest collaboration ‘For Everybody’ which is taken a step further for his Knxwledge promo. We chatted to him about how he developed and adapts his aesthetic and who he would like to work with the in the future.
Word Is Cheap: You have a distinctive style that runs throughout your videos, how did this aesthetic develop?
RUFFMERCY: At the end of 2011 I collaborated with director David M. Helman on a video for the LA mc ‘BLU’ called ‘Doin’ Nothin’ produced by Flying Lotus. David and Blu had a 5 frame gif of random drawings over a girls face that they wanted me to use as inspiration. Up until that point I had been doing quite tight motion work but since I was a kid I always kept sketch books of doodles but had not really brought that across into my motion / animation work. So for the Blu video I bought a Wacom and I had a ‘Eureka’ moment. I got a huge sense of freedom being able to just draw and not worry about being tight. After that video I just kept drawing, wanting to repeat the experience as it was so enjoyable.
WIC: What is the most rewarding and interesting aspect of combining your art with music?
R: I’m always listening to music and music has been a big inspiration for me since I was a kid. I used to imagine how I’d make a video for the music on my headphones when I was 12-13 but never imagined at that time I would be able to do that as a job when older. The fact that now I get to work with a lot of musicians whom I’m a fan of or grew up listening too is a great feeling, and I feel lucky. For my work to be seen in conjunction with great music created by people I respect is truly rewarding.
WIC: How do you modify such a distinctive style for each artist and song?
R: I weigh up how weird I can go with it.. The weirder I can go with it the better for me but some artists aren’t gonna want that so I adjust the weirdness level on how I think the artist will feel about it. For example Schoolboy Q isn’t gonna want a bunch of weird shit drawn all over his face so stuck to highlighting his movements and key words from the song. MNEK was into 80’s & 90’s patterns and the label wanted to keep the drawing off his face so I tailored the style to mimic a 90’s design feel. Blue Daisy – he likes shit weird so he was a perfect client. Blu too I think is very open minded and willing to go wilder with things. Wilder and weirder is better for me.
WIC: How time consuming is the post process compared to the live shoot?
R: Post usually is around 2-3 weeks of intense days… where by the shoot is usually just a day. You have to prep for the shoot obviously and that takes time but the post is by far the most time consuming process. Ideally I’d like 4-5 weeks for post on a video to really push things but most labels and artists need the video pretty quick so I have got in a habit of allowing 2-3 weeks for animation to cater to clients needs.
WIC: You have worked with lots of artists from different genres, is there any genre or artist you would specifically like to apply your style too?
R: I’d like to work with more electronic artists. I think you can go more abstract with Electronic music and I think I’d be able to explore and experiment more with that genre. Specific artists, not just electronic and guys I think I could make something great for are > SHIGETO, DOOM, YOUNG DROOG, MADLIB, DE LA SOUL (would be cool) oh and I’d love to make another DANNY BROWN, KNXWLEDGE and always RTJ.