Video Chats: Galen Pehrson on 'Come Here' by Talib Kweli Feat. Miguel
Posted by Doug Klinger on June 10, 2013 in Interviews
The last time we talked to director and animator Galen Pehrson, he told us he wanted to make music videos that are outside of the really, really rigid box that music videos have been set in. After creating videos for artists like Death Grips and screening his work in museum exhibits, Galen applied his hand drawn animation to Come Here by Talib Kweli featuring Miguel. Although Talib isnt your typical mainstream hip-hop artist, the video premiered on MTV and the size of the production was much larger than videos Galen has worked on in the past. We talked to Galen about the video, ancient Egyptian mythology, and adjusting his work to a larger production and audience.
Doug: How did you get involved in this project?
Galen: Sara Cline who is producer on all my animation projects put us in touch. I had finished the Death Grips "True Vulture" short and I wanted to do something in hip-hop but also looking for an artist who is doing something different. Originally we had approached Talib about doing something in the editorial space like more of a short film, then he came back to us and said I got this amazing record with Miguel, the only catch is it drops in 3 weeks. I think I wrote out the treatment on friday and by monday we had a full storyboard, we hired a crew Monday and started animating on Tuesday. We worked in 18 hour shifts for four weeks solid.
Doug: Were the characters in this video inspired by anything specific? Was there any collaboration with Talib on the narrative?
Galen: The male character is based on Anubis, who is of course the jackal-headed god of the after life in ancient Egyptian mythology, but he's been displaced to 1990's Brooklyn so he's dealing with that. The female lead is based on the winged Goddess Isis, another figure in ancient Egyptian mythology who was worshipped as the perfect woman. I had an idea of kind of taking a lot of the ideas and imagery we see over and over in hip-hop videos, and throwing them into a time machine and seeing when and where they came out. There is a lot of fun references to hip-hop culture and fashion woven into the piece. For instance, the Medusa is based on the Versace logo. I was thinking in terms of like visually sampling a lot. As far as Talib's involvement he really wanted to design the phone interface which I thought was so cool, unfortunately he was touring and with his schedule he was not able to do it in the end, but I love that he was into the phone interfaces.
Doug: You mentioned this video was in a more commercial lane than you're used to, did you try to be a bit less explicit because of this?
Galen: Yeah, It was a MTV premiere so we where shooting for a broader audience, and that's something I sort of took into account to the treatment, but more than anything I think the track dictated the content more than any type of self censorship. The biggest difference with work that's more mainstream is the turn arounds are faster and I am unable to do all the animation myself - It's inevitable that it changes a little once you start scaling the projects up.
Doug: How has a more commercial audience responded to your work, or is that not something you've paid much attention to?
Galen: Ive been blown away on how positive the reaction has been, I think there is such a rigid mold of what a hip-hop video looks like that anything outside that gets a bit of a double take and an eyebrow raised from the online hip-hop community, but on the other hand I see people writing about it on the hip-hop blogs and philosophizing about the character's intentions or the origins of the Egyptian myths. You can't get that with videos about being up in the club or counting your money poolside.
Doug: Do you see yourself continuing to go in a more commercial direction?
Galen: I think if the people are enjoying your work the commercial space comes to you. There seems to be a lot of imaginary walls on how you make a successful product in the commercial space more and more people are responding to content outside those walls, there is really only one golden rule and thats that people like it. So as long as I can be making stuff people like, yes.
Doug: Will we continue to see reference to previous work in your future work, like we see in the characters and the elements of this one?
Galen: Yeah, I do like the idea thats its a universe and all these characters inhabit it, I like the idea that they are like actors and they can have different personas.
come here, galen pehrson, miguel, talib kweli, video chats
Doug Klinger is the co-founder/content director of IMVDb and watches more music videos than anyone on earth. You can find him on twitter at @doug_klinger.
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