Working across disciplines of art, animation, film making and fashion, the multi-faceted Daniel Brereton has an enviable list of collaborations under his belt for the likes of Metronomy, Cymbals and Django Django. His latest works include a scanimation promo for Daniel Avery and a LTD edition line of tapestries for Urban Outfitters.
Can you tell us a bit about your background – what was your route into directing?
I did graphic design at Camberwell in London, and I was mainly drawing there. This is quite funny but one day my tutor who I respected highly said my drawings were shit and I should try and do films, so I started making films that were my versions of classic films. My tutor seemed to like what I was doing so I kept going with them. I was then a textile designer for a couple of years which is a long story and then I went freelance and was asked by Stephen Bass at Moshi Moshi records to make a video for two guys from Texas who made music under the name Best Fwends. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but that is how everyone starts out. It was really fun and I got the music video bug.
We loved your latest video for Daniel Avery – really interesting balance between sexy and creepy. How did the idea for that one come about?
The idea came about as I had always wanted to see if I could make a video made entirely out of scanned images from an everyday scanner. An assistant of mine called Sarah Espeute and I did a test and sent it to Dan and Erol Alkan at Phantasy. They both really liked it and Dan had some ideas of his own to add to it. Initially the film had me in it, but Dan wanted it to be only girls, for some reason he thought Sarah looked more appealing than I did. And the song was inspired by a lot of 90s influences; “Windowlicker” by Aphex Twin being one of them, so we both wanted to do something that had that creepiness that Chris Cunningham creates.
There’s a really hand-made feeling to a lot of your promos. Is that a conscious stylistic decision or to a degree is it necessitated by budgets? There’s an immediacy it gives your videos – they don’t feel over-thought. There’s something quite spontaneous about the mood it creates.
I absolutely hate the way that something hand made is seen as low budget; it does my head in more than anything else. I think that my ideas are linked to being a human; they have human qualities like imperfections and mistakes. I get a lot more out of these things than I do say a big budget movie. I like the way you say they are spontaneous and don’t feel over-thought, as it is something that I like from other people’s videos, like Spike Jonze. I think the idea is not over-thought but then when it comes to making something there is probably too much thinking.
What is it about mixing live action and animation that appeals to you?
I like image making, trying to create something that has not been seen before, and so I use live action and animation as methods to do this. I don’t really analyze why I like animation as I see it as magic, I think I like the mystery of it. Mixing the two is interesting as it produces new results all the time. I also find it hard to get my head around special effects, but animation is something a toddler can do.
Can you talk about your Connan Mockasin video – it’s one of the more esoteric pieces on your reel. What was the idea behind the film?
The idea was that I wanted to make a film that was like one of Connan’s paintings. His paintings are really great and you should check them out, though he does not put stuff online, I like that about him too. I think it was very much a collaboration between me and him, I think I would say “What if we did this?” and he would just trust me, that way I was really confident in what we were doing. And it’s funny but you don’t really think about if a musician can act until the day you make a video, but Connan was one of the best actors I have worked with. Maybe it was intuition but he just played a part and I didn’t have to guide him much. Things don’t go like that very often at all.
How did the collaboration with Urban Outfitters come about?
I have a Flickr and stuff online, where I draw pictures, most of the time just to see what I can come up with. My drawings are like my films in that they are all hand made. Andy Beach runs a blog called Reference Library, which is a really nice blog that contains lots of hand made furniture and objects and maybe what you call “vernacular design”. Out of the blue he got in touch with me and told me he works for Urban Outfitters US and would I like to make some large-scale textile drawings for them. The drawings he had in mind were ones that I had done in 2009 and were based on Haitian Vodou Flags. I was really happy to be asked to do them.
To see Brereton’s tapestries and other artwork go to Related Content.