The first thing that struck me about Pujol's album "Kludge" is the mix and the master. The word "confrontational" comes to mind, though the music is actually a really pleasant mix, of garage, psych and '60s pop. Daniel Pujol just has a verve, a bouncy, nervous touch to his set that makes it poke through the cozy carpet.
Digging beyond that, Pujol is singular in his approach to his art, and extending entertainment into a realm of philosophical commentary, a jam-packed lyricism which sometimes reads like a social and cultural deconstruction or manifesto.
But I didn't necessarily expect that, when I first watched the music video for phenomenal single "Circles," directed by Stewart Copeland. The colorful stop-motion clip has the lead singer living out what is surely the dream of all musicians: to have q-tips go in his ears in close view of the camera, to be transformed by lizard people, to be covered in paint.
It's a labor-intensive endeavor, much like the whole of "Kludge." To record it, Pujol and producer Doni Shoader would construct a temporary studio set up every day at a teen suicide-prevention center in a strip mall in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., to record overnight. Mixing occurred in a studio that was under constant construction, maintaining work around the oddest hours and very improvised settings.
Below, I interview Pujol and Stewart about those industrious days, about the reptiles, visual inspiration, torture loops and doing the job right.
"Kludge" was released on May 20 via Saddle Creek. Here is the exclusive premiere of the music video for Pujol's "Circles."
1. It looks like Daniel was put through many modes of delightful torture. Were there other brutal ideas you wanted to include in this video that just didn't work out, weren't feasible or that Daniel was straight-up like "nope" to?
Daniel: My head is an object being manipulated by the amoral pursuit of pleasure. The lizard people are trying to discover my ideal self, according to them. So I can be one of them. Finally. I can be the perfect me and hang with the lizard people basking in the heat lamp of realized desire. A commodified individual starring in a reptilian bukaki DVD. Stewart is one of the few people I trust to make PUJOL videos. I would do anything he told me. I trust his vision.
Stewart: Daniel never says “no.” We’ve been friends for a very long time and we both trust each other. I would never ask him to do something without reason or purpose and he knows that. I really wanted two leaf-blowers to blast glitter at his face but I had to scrap that because of the way we were shooting. The whole video is made up of still pictures. I took 16,000 over a weekend and then assembled them into clips inside Photoshop. Daniel is singing and moving in half-time to a track that has been slowed down and the lizards are moving in real time. Because of this anything that moves to quickly (i.e. glitter out of a leaf-blower) doesn’t look very good.
2. Where there things visually that inspired the song "Circles" in particular? How did this song and the video (separately) come together?
Stewart: Cartoons inspired a lot of the visuals in the video. The pulsing circles that emanate from behind Daniels head were inspired by the Warner Bros. title cards and "That's All Folks" rings. The background colors change through iris wipes, a common trope in classic cartoons.
The circular narrative structure of cartoons also influenced the video. The action resets and repeats... an endless torture loop.
Daniel: I don't think anything visual inspired me. I'm not a very visual person. The idea of being locked into a pattern gave me the idea for "Circles." To personify that pattern and break up with it.