But, again, I come from the MTV generation — the good MTV from the early ’80s. I was a music-video freak. I taped everything. I watched everything. I was so obsessed that I became kind of like an expert on the matter, so I learned from the pioneers, like Michael Nesmith and Godley & Cream. They invented the art of the music video. Their stuff wasn’t just about the cool, or style, it was about the perfect combination of music and image.
Music videos aren’t movies or paintings — it’s a totally different form. Just take a look at the work of Jean-Baptiste Mondino or Mark Romanek. Their approach to music video is very instinctive. I identify with that. Sometimes a music note will ask for a specific image. There’s no way you should not follow your instinct.
CD: The occult aesthetic has been coming up a lot in the past few years (I’m thinking of the Tenant’s “Mystery Mountain,” El Guincho’s “Bombay,” Destroyer’s “Kaputt,” and your “Unámonos” video.) Where is all this coming from, and why is the imagery so captivating?
AS: I guess all those esoteric films from the ’70s needed to come back. Filmmakers like Jean Rollin and Jess [Jesús] Franco were really underrated. Ken Russell, man — the satanic films. I think it was a return to nature. In the late ’90s, music videos were so over-produced. Every video wanted to be epic, smart, and intense. The Radiohead syndrome. But today it’s about going back to basics.
It’s cool that you mentioned Polanski [Soto thought I was referencing Polanski’s filmThe Tenant, rather than the band of that name], because his films represent the intensity of nature. There’s no pretension, just an exploration of the power of the mind. Witchcraft and rituals are based on that side of nature — a force that will work if you really believe, and I think we’re living in a time of believing. That’s why there are so many videos with that feel. I treat my videos as rituals because I want to share a therapeutic effect with the audience, if they believe.
The Shantelle video “Unámonos” was made under that concept. Many compare the video to the El Guincho video made by Canada Films. I love their work. It is full of cult-film references. But my main inspiration was Jean-Paul Goude’s “Slave to the Rhythm,” by Grace Jones — a video based on experimental artists like Stan Brakhage, Bruce Corner, and Kenneth Anger. They might be the real pioneers of music video. They explored visual texture. They explored the image of sound. I really relate to that. “Unámonos” was the perfect song to do it. A few seconds after I heard that track, all these images came to my mind. I went home, did a storyboard, and never thought twice about it.
Much of the video discussed in this article can be found on the Escandalos channel on Youtube.