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Harnessing the fantastical excess of the 80’s

Music July 13 2012

 

A week or so ago, I discovered Starcadian and the music video for his track ‘HE^RT’. It’s a simple story of a pilot flying through space in his tiny ship and it’s amazing, both visually and nostalgically. It’s got a very heavy 80’s / VHS aesthetic to it. The storyline is simple and it’s all very serene and peaceful, while at the same time chock-full of nostalgia and charm that I instantly had to watch it again. I wanted to know more, about the video, about Starcadian’s music and the whole 80’s vibe pulsing through it all. So,I did the one thing I could think of, I called him up for a chat.

What is Starcadian?

I guess I would say that Starcadian is a project that’s fashioned to be a love letter to my childhood, and all the things that made it special. Mostly 80’s to 90’s fantasy movies and that whole practical makeup fantasy world that it created for everyone, up to the movie video games that came out in the early 90’s. It’s that whole mentality that was created by the late 80’s scene that I like to call fantastical excess and it was always about more- more visuals, more colors, more everything.

After watching HE^RT it’s easy to see that it’s a love letter to 80’s movies and the VHS, what is it that makes that era so lovely?

There’s no magical answer to that, other than that I am really nostalgic about it, having grown up with it. That to me formed my opinion of art and sculpted my view of what movies and music should be. As everyone does in their own little way. I think objectively, there was a beauty in those movies, I mean from our current point of view it looks like they didn’t have the budget or the means to make a convincing alien. But, that added to the charm of it and I think to our generation- it’s our vinyl. VHS is the cinephile’s vinyl. It’s not as good, yes there are crackles, there are pops. There’s a charm to it, there’s magic. I tend to have this knee-jerk reaction to grittifying and making something real, like the new Batman movies, I mean I respect how well they’re done and they’re good movies, but I don’t enjoy them as much as the originals. And yes – the originals had Danny De Vito in a giant fat suit, Christopher Walken hamming it up, and Jack Nicholson being Jack Nicholson. But, I have this fascination towards the less gritty and more fantastical and cartoony things. Total Recall is a perfect example, yeah, there’s some kind of grittiness to the story. But, there are also these ridiculous cheesy things that somehow magically click together. Like the three breasted woman, all these crazy makeup effects they had. It didn’t look as good, but it worked, it just worked and in a non-gritty way. It’s just it’s own category you know.

According to the credits of the HE^RT video, it’s done with a very small crew, can you tell me a bit about the making of the video?

Basically, me and Rob O’Neill brainstormed the idea and came up with a vague kind of concept for it, and I tend to work very instinctually. If it feels like it should go to place B or C – then we change it.
Rob is on the west coast, and I am on the east coast. He had found a cockpit, bought it and set up a studio in his garage and filmed all the live action stuff and emailed it to me. Then, I did all the visual effects on top of it. Then there was a back and forth, ‘change this’, ‘let’s add bit of distortion here’, ‘some there’. And then my good friend Michael Batista, helped with some of the compositing stuff towards the end in the trip scene. But, it was very barebones, very DIY kind of. The trick was getting all the grading and stuff right, and that’s where I got really picky. I wanted to have the right kind of film jitter, like it just jitters a little bit. I got so obsessed with that, I actually imported Back to the Future and tracked the jitter on the film just to get the exact same motion.

So much of the grading and jitter is actually authentic 80’s jitter?

Yeah absolutely, it’s not quite grain, but the VHS layer that’s superimposed over the video is actually a blank VHS tape filmed and I used that blank noise and put it back in selectively over the footage. The footage itself is super sharp, we used a 5D. It looks great we just had to put it through the shittyfying process to make it look 80’s.

Lastly, can you tell me a bit about your upcoming album?

The album is called Sunset Blood, it’s got no set release date, primarily because I’ve got one song left that I’m working on and it’s a labor of love so it has to be just right. But, I am aiming for a late summer release and there are a few more video collaborations that are slowly cooking. It’s a concept album; the way I like to describe it is walking into the VHS store when you’re a kid and going over to the fantasy section. You’re looking at a bunch of amazing video covers and each one tells their own story. Basically that’s what Sunset Blood is; it’s a collection of those movies. Every song is going to be a different movie.

 

Article & Interview by Anders Carlsson

 

If you want to hear more of Starcadian (and you really should) I suggest checking out his site starcadian.com, soundcloud page or perhaps even his facebook page.

Starcadian – HE^RT

Credits:
Directed by:
Starcadian & Rob O’Neill
soundcloud.com/starcadian//@roboneill

Visual Effects by:
Starcadian

Additional 2D effects by:
Michael Batista//http://michaelbatista.com//http://vimeo.com/mikebatista

See more of Rob O’Neill´s work and projects here

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