Described by a particularly astute YouTube commenter as being the musical offspring of Radiohead and the Eagles, Melbourne band Husky are a quartet you’ll be hearing a lot more of this year. The recent Sub Pop signings first gained attention when they won Australian radio station Triple J’s Unearthed competition for emerging artists, and have since supported the likes of Devandra Banhart, Noah and the Whale, Kimbra and Gotye.
The band recently collaborated with directors Brendan Cook and Darryn Rogers of pictureDRIFT on a video to both publicize the release of their debut album, Forever So, and visualize their sound and their story. The band’s keys man Gideon Preiss described their recording studio as being a junk-filled bungalow in a “backyard [that] was overgrown with weeds and wild mint,” which Cook—who’s also worked on videos for the likes of Temper Trap and Gotye—translated into the video for “The Woods” with resources from the Biodiversity Library in New South Wales.
We talked to Cook recently to find out more about the process of assembling the vintage flora into a musical landscape.
Portable: How did you source some of the plant and animal imagery?
Brendan Cook: The imagery was sourced from historical botanical manuscript libraries including the Biodiversity library and the Mitchell library in NSW. We also took many photos in Centennial Park Sydney (just down the road from our studio) which has a great range of flora including ancient Fig trees with huge root systems. We wanted the style of the flora to be eclectic, diverse and collaged in nature. The trees were made up of many different types of leaves and flowers, all rendered in differing illustration styles to enhance the eclectic style.
P: Husky shot the clip in Sydney while on their national tour last year. What does it take to shoot for an animation in only one day with your talent?
Brendan Cook: To shoot a whole music video in one day requires some careful planning and the confidence to limit the amount of takes and versions you shoot. With this shoot we shot on a green screen, which is not the most interesting environment, so it really helps when the band understand and believe in the concept your trying to achieve so everyone on set can imagine the animation that is going to be put in later. Husky were great to work with, as they were well rehearsed in the performance of their material, they were very relaxed and really into the ideas, I think they had a lot of fun on set.
P: And then what’s required for the weeks following? Many late nights?
Brendan Cook: There are many steps that follow the shoot including editing, vfx (keying, rotoscoping and tracking) and then the animation and compositing stages. It really all comes back to the planning that happens before the shoot though, if this is well thought through everything turns out well.
P: Can you talk a little bit about the concept – how it came about and how you brought it to life?
Brendan Cook: Ariella Gery and I developed the concept from a concept supplied to us in the initial brief. At first I was a bit unsure, as we usually develop our own concepts and it can be tricky to understand exactly what is someone else’s head and then visualise that, however the band were open to us bringing some of our ideas to the table and developing an appropriate style to tell their story. To bring the band’s concept to life, we developed a few style tests, mixing up various botanical illustration styles to create an interesting look. We also did some technical tests to work out how we would attach the growing plant elements to moving shots of the band members. Then we worked out a storyboard and shooting script for the video.
P: You edited the clip as well as directed it – a man of many trades! – did you shoot exactly what you needed or did a lot end up on the cutting room floor?
Brendan Cook: I co-directed the clip with Darryn Rogers, a senior designer at pictureDRIFT, I then edited it together based on our storyboards. Because we only had a day to shoot, I didn’t get many extras, most of the takes we shot ended up in the video.
Husky supports Head and the Heart in the USA:
Thurs 31 May – Reno, NV – The Knitting Factory buy tickets
Fri 1 June – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore Theatre buy tickets
Sat 2 June – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore Theatre buy tickets
Tues 5 June – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom buy tickets
Fri 8 June – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s buy tickets
Sat 9 June – Austin, TX – Stubb’s buy tickets
Sun 10 June – Austin, TX – Stubb’s buy tickets