With his latest album We Keep The Beat, Found The Sound, See The Need, Start The Heart, dropping June 12, folk singer Jonathan Boulet paired up with fellow Aussie producer Peanut for the music video for “This Song is Called Ragged.” Portable spoke exclusively with Peanut to find out exactly what was the inspiration behind all those exploding mannequins…
Portable: In the video, you use mannequins. What was the reason behind this and also including Jonathan?
Peanut: The idea to use mannequins spawned from a variety of different reasons and inspirations. Firstly Boulet wanted something gory and he wanted to explode. He wanted people getting shot without revealing who or what was shooting them. So rather than using CGI or rigging people up with explosives, as they do in Hollywood, I wanted to film things being shot for REAL hence using mannequins.
The initial idea was to simulate a shooting gallery like the ones you find at fun fairs. A bunch of targets set up that you can shoot to win a prize. They usually have pirate themes for some reason. “Step right up and shoot the skeleton on the rocking chair to make him sing,” type thing. The other inspiration for using mannequins was to pay homage to Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni and his 1970’s film Zabriskie Point. There’s a scene in it with mannequins advertising a new housing development that I found amazing. Zabriskie Point was also the inspiration for the explosions.
I liked the thought of having fake objects being shot by real rifles and bleeding in the process. Fake vs Real plays a heavy role in the concept of this video. Hence placing the real Jonathan Boulet among fake objects that are shot by real guns. The majority of what you see in the video is real and all in camera. Even when Jonathan explodes you can see the shock wave blast from the dynamite. You’ll need to watch it in HD but that shit is real! and at 2,500 frames a second!
P: Where was the video filmed? How did you decide on the location and on the set?
Peanut: It was filmed somewhere between Sydney and Canberra. Firing seriously high powered rifles and blowing things up with dynamite is pretty hard to do these days. Especially in Sydney. No production company would touch this because of the insurances that weighed it down. To find someone that will allow you to make a mess on their land is extremely difficult so there wasn’t much to choose from. Luckily I dwell in the presence of scumbags that have large open spaces, big toys and a keen sense of adventure who can facilitate such destruction. I can’t tell you exactly where we shot it but if you find it, enter at your own risk!
P: How did you decide on what props to use and is there meaning behind them and their inclusion?
Peanut: There are some hidden meanings with some of the installations but nothing forced. Its Surrealism. Its up to the viewer to decipher it for themselves. The white set on the left was inspired by Ray Johnson, a Dada artist. In fact the entire clip is very Dada inspired. The dining scene in the middle was designed to be a squirmish gothic feast, the Octopus girl represents Vanity and was inspired by David Lynch’s photography, as was the boy scout watching propaganda. The props were mostly chosen for the way they would react from a gun shot.
P: Besides including the mannequins, you also make them explode and the entire set gets destroyed. What is the meaning behind this?
Peanut: Energy. Besides the shooting gallery concept, which I explained earlier, my focus was on the energy. To keep with the energy of the track I decided to use Dynamic Motion as the vehicle. There is nothing more dynamic than shooting a 40 litre terracotta pot filled with blood and guts using a full metal jacket. Its not often you get to see such destruction at 2,500 frames a second.
P: Why make Jonathan explode? Is there a reason why he is running throughout the video?
Peanut: Boulet wanted to see what it would actually look like if he were to really explode. So I gave it to him. You’d be running too if high powered rifles were being shot in your direction. The lad was dodging bullets!
P: Why are all the different colors being separated in the different shots?
Peanut: When I first heard the track it screamed colour. No one wanted it to be too obvious. The trick was to keep it colourful while maintaining a dark undertone.
P: What is it about the song that inspired you to create this video?
Peanut: It was not only the song but Boulet’s entire skill set that inspired me to create this video. Jonathan Boulet I find has a strong belief in creative freedom which I admire. He has a strong live act. You can hear it in his music. He lets the feeling guide him more so than the reason of getting there. I followed suit in directing this video. I find that there is a large amount of red tape choking society these days. More so in Australia then anywhere else. You can’t have too much fun without getting into trouble. Anyone that backs you to create something involving destruction with real guns and explosives are fucking rad! Jonathan Boulet and the Modular team are just that!