A few weeks ago we were unsettled by Club Dread, the first album from Justin Majetich’s new project, Majetic. The album and accompanying videos carry a peculiar emotional charge that move the measure. This was art outside of time, but utterly of the time. The unconventional wisdom on display produced an unconventional, soothing, and striking beauty. We loved it.
With a string of videos that linger in the mind, the visceral ‘otherness’ of Majetich’s vision is fleshed out. Disturbing, provocative and tender, the sequence of videos around the collection deserve close attention.
popbollocks invited Justin to discuss the sequence of videos from Club Dread, and in doing so we learned that a new video ‘Phantom Life’ was about to be released. We were offered the opportunity to premiere the video. We said ‘Yes fucking please’.
So here it all is – Majetic, breaking down the concepts, collaborators, and work involved in producing ‘Horseback’, ‘Bloodbrunch’, and ‘Simple Blade’. Then comes new visual for ‘Phantom Life’… and if you stick around, there’s a nice little teaser for what’s next.
“Horseback” (dir. Justin Majetich)
I set out to make the “Horseback” video with little more than a mood in mind. The process that followed was improvisational, one experiment riffing off another. I didn’t really have a sense of the form until I dropped all the footage I’d shot into Adobe and started pushing it all together. Ultimately, I think it’s the approach and the present tools — a flashlight, a utility knife, a 16-megapixel Nikon CoolPix S7000 — that really dictated form. The amateurish qualities of the camera more or less demanded claustrophobic immediacy. Or for example, the circular frame thrown by the flashlight — this suggested to me a heavy (and unsophisticated) use of layer masks in the editing process. I think this sort of associative rabbit-holing lent the video a surreal, dream-like quality. I’m still kind of surprised it all works as well as it does though.
Releasing “Horseback” as the first single/video from Club Dread was a bit of a red herring. I thought it would make for a discombobulating introduction to the album world. I mean it’s always been more thrilling to enter a house through a window than it is to use the door.
“Bloodbrunch” (dir. Mood Killer)
I love music videos as a chance to playfully re-invent a song, subverting and/or expanding it’s original mood, meaning, etc. I love the format secondly as a chance to collaborate. Making “Bloodbrunch” was a pleasure on both accounts. I had met “Bloodbrunch” director/stylist Michael Zarowny (Mood Killer) earlier in the year at a release party for one of Dorian Electra’s videos. We had coffee the next day and loosely followed one another online from across the country for the next little while.
When I starting thinking about videos for Club Dread, I considered Michael for “Bloodbrunch.” I loved what he was doing, but there was such idiosyncratic drama to his work. I wasn’t sure where it would meet with mine, but I figured “Bloodbrunch” was as good a place to try as any. I remember watching the video for his Mood Killer song “I Thought You Loved Hunting” one last time before firing off the proposition email — “here goes nothing.” The results did push me out of my aesthetic comfort zone — thank god — but I also discovered that Michael and I had more consonance than I thought. Anyway, he flew out to NYC, I roped together a small crew of friends and acquaintances, and we had a spectacular time. Everyone just got along so well, and we all had so much fun getting to know each other through the forum of creative collaboration. It’s one thing to make a sick video — another to make a great friend along the way.
“Simple Blade” (dir. Kara Güt)
The song “Simple Blade” itself originated from a collaborative piece Kara and I made in January 2018 titled “Resonant Flesh.” We’d made it as the centerpiece for a joint show at Wick Gallery (fka Space Heater) in Brooklyn. It was accompanied by some of Kara’s solo work, as well as an exhibition OST from myself. All that’s to say, it only made sense to ask Kara to make the visual treatment for “Simple Blade.”
Mostly, she created the video from her own gameplay captures and clips ripped from YouTube. However, we did meet up in Cleveland over the summer (we both grew up there, though we didn’t know each other) and shot footage of me hacking watermelons and kool aid jugs in her parents’ backyard (see 0:16, etc). The Twitch-cam/Monster-chug stuff I shot with a friend here in New York.
Kara’s work is a joy to me. Her ability to smelt honest emotion from the cold ores of concept and technology is exhilarating and — in all sincerity — humbling. I’m so proud to work with her.
Phantom Life (dir. Joanna Samuel)
Joanna sent me her final cut of this video the same week Vince Staples dropped his video for “FUN!” which also sports a concept built around Google Street View and features a more or less identical opening. We spent a good minute bemoaning this poor luck with one another on the phone, but truth of the matter is, Joanna’s video is one of a kind.
She made it for me as a surprise. That is to say, I knew she was making it but nothing else, until it was finished. The only direction I gave was that I wanted it to be set in Oakland. I honestly didn’t know what to think when I first watched the video. I didn’t really have a reference. But I loved being led through its strange world — the purgatorial living room, the sampling of “Icon” in the picture frame, the aloof bobbing of buildings in downtown Oakland. It reminds me of “Heaven” by the Talking Heads: “Heaven is a place / a place where nothing / nothing ever happens.” There’s something significant lurking in its extended beats and non-happenings. I think it’s an appropriate companion to Phantom Life, teasing an subtle, unacknowledged aspect of Club Dread.
But wait, there’s more… though unreleased. The fifth video is my proudest video work to date, and as I see it, the consummate fifth act to Club Dread’s visual narrative. Stay tuned, please.
HURRY – BUY – MAJETIC MUSIC