With a background in animation for the likes of Swedish dance/art group The Knife, Andreas Nilsson is no stranger to travelling the terrain of the surreal, subversive and super-sensory. Of late his work has ventured into the commercial world of TV spots, all the while retaining a firm grasp on promoland with collaborations with Miike Snow and most recently 2 Chainz feat. Kanye West.
Where Nilsson excels is in his unwavering ability to present reality with a focus on the subcultural without a look-at-them outsider perspective. Where Nilsson’s subjects go he goes too, giving his work a raw honesty that champions outsiders with a rare respect and integrity. We’ve all stood on the edge of the party, but sometimes that’s where the real party’s at, and it’s that brave approach to filmmaking that draws you into Nilsson’s obsessive compulsive mind.
Your Van She promo – How did you first come across the thong man? And WTF?!? Is that actually how he lives his life? Is the film fundamentally about this guy who’s found his “idea of happiness”?
After many days of randomly googling MAN+THONG+FRIZZY HAIR I stumbled upon Emil. Sent him an email and voilá, suddenly he was my best friend in the world. And yes, the location is Emil´s summerhouse on the Hungarian countryside. He have a lot of estates, his main residence is in Bodensee, Germany though. I like your interpretation of the video.
Tell us about the 2 Chainz video – Why did you decide to subvert all the conventions of hip hop videos? It’s not that you’ve thrown them out of the window, more that you’ve taken the classic elements (the girls, the party…) but shown through your own unique filter…
This video was done pretty much on the fly, very tight schedule and short shooting day. The circumstances dictated the aesthetic choices. There was no time to think a lot here, and sometimes that ends up in something that is very direct, like this one. The conventions of hip hop are a lovely subject I think, it´s vulgar and fun. Like a sugarcoated horror. Perfect.
Miike Snow – you’ve collaborated with the band three times now right? How did the creative collaboration come about and how has the dynamic developed over the course of your videos for them? Extra-terrestrial Beethoven children creating super beings?!
They are good friends of mine and for the last two videos we did together we had endless discussion about modern technology in medicine. This speech by Anthony Atala was a big inspiration.
A lot of your work tends to focus on marginal characters but without marginalising them. Do you think this is connected to your early work within animation – in the sense that as an illustrator you have complete freedom to bring to life any character that you can imagine whereas your work in live action seems to have a thread of you hunting out these characters in the real world. Where does that fascination stem from?
I cast people that I can relate to and that expresses something that I carry but am unable to express myself. I don´t believe it has anything to do with my background in animation.
Do you have a set creative process? Do you tend to find that you come to music video projects with an existing idea or is the idea driven by the music and the lyrics?
In the beginning I always came up with the idea based on a study of the music and the lyrics. Nowadays that is rare. Most of the times I have an idea and I wait for a song that fits the idea.
And where do you look for inspiration? Is it an observational drive or do you look to art, music, nature?
My inspiration nowadays comes from my previous work. I build from where I left off. I have some friends that are a big inspiration to me as well. People that I hang out with on a daily basis, Christian Andersson and Alexander Gutke for example.
You’ve moved into commercial projects over the past few years with films for Cadbury and now, most recently, Nike. How have you found that transition? Do you find yourself tempering your ideas to a degree or is it a different thought process?
It´s a very different process. The biggest difference is that you are developing someone else´s concept. That I don´t see as a problem at all though. If you work with good agencies which I have been lucky to do the collaboration can bring you a lot back. It´s inspiring.
Tell us a bit about your recent Nike event / installation – what was the brief from the agency and how did you interpret that and bring it to life in a way that spoke your own aesthetic?
The brief was to do a performance/installation that took place in a live environment and that showed the physicality of the basketball player Chris Paul. I loved the public approach and that the actual event on that specific day was the focus.
The attention to detail across your work is impeccable – from the grand elements to the most minute nuance. How do you achieve that?!
Thanks, I suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Is there anything else you want to share or any forthcoming projects you can talk about?
Believe in the cone.