Indie rock and arts and crafts have one vital thing in common: the DIY ethos. So it makes sense that some of our favorite acts are incorporating Etsy-like aesthetics into their music videos. With the help of shadow puppets, steampunk sculptures, construction paper backgrounds, and more, bands such as Bright Eyes, of Montreal, and Bat For Lashes are letting their craft flag fly with innovative clips that are just as mesmerizing as the music they accompany. Join us as we round up some of our favorite artsy videos.
of Montreal — “Suffer for Fashion”
Avant-garde director and visual artist Sigrid Asturp utilized fast-forward stop-motion animation to create the bizarre series of vignettes for this offbeat music video. Featuring colorful, rubber glove-clad hands assembling objects, the clip finds inspiration in flamboyant frontman Kevin Barnes’ emotionally volatile lyrics, which reference the slavish following of trends, an idea that is visually represented through ever-evolving shapes and colors.
Bat For Lashes — “Sleep Alone”
It’s no secret that Natasha Khan, the Brit behind Bat For Lashes, has a penchant for the arts. She studied both music and visual arts in college, and her creations have figured prominently in her musical career. In “Sleep Alone,” Khan highlights her crafty side by sketching out geometric patterns that serve as a how-to guide for putting together a glowing companion who banishes her insomnia-inducing loneliness.
Sin Fang Bous — “Clangour And Flutes”
Animated illustrations of Seabear frontman Sindri Már Sigfússon are drawn from scratch and torn open in this playful video for a Sigfússon’s solo project that swirls together live action and drawings. Directed by his Seabear band mate Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir, the clip transforms lyrics into sketches, covering the Iceland-based musician’s face with rustic embellishments of hand-drawn trees, fireplaces, and axes, along with recreating the song’s intricate melodies in the form of kaleidoscopic doodles that crawl across the screen.
Laura Marling — “The Needle and the Damage Done”
Using furniture models fashioned out of Plasticine clay and cardboard, the English singer-songwriter’s Neil Young cover is cleverly brought to life by artists Redman and Anne-Sophie Poirier. Although Miss Marling didn’t hire the crafty pair to do the job — she stumbled upon the clip while scouring the web — the folk songstress instantly fell for the stop-motion animated take, and publicized the abstract and slightly unsettling video on her website.
Dead Man’s Bones — “Dead Hearts”
There’s no lack of creativity in this Ryan Gosling- and Zach Shields-fronted troupe. The two have been running with a Halloween theme, and even recruited a children’s choir dressed in spooky attire to support them on stage. The band’s music videos are no exception. Artist Arthur Ganson’s steampunk sculpture Machine With Wishbone serves as the centerpiece of this haunting track from their debut LP. Slowly traveling through a handmade setting evocative of the Old West, the wishbone-led sculpture struggles to cross a spirit-harboring ghost town.
Bright Eyes — “Bowl of Oranges”
With the aide of two-dimensional fiber art puppets and scenery, this bittersweet Bright Eyes video portrays one girl’s unsuccessful fight for the boy she loves, who happens to planted, tree-like, in the ground. The whimsical cut was directed by Cat Solen (who also teamed-up with Conor Oberst and company for “At the Bottom of Everything”) and features whimsically constructed dolls and their real-life counterparts, amid intricately animated scenes.
Little Dragon — “Twice”
Illustrating a somber tale of love and loss through shadow puppetry, the members of this Swedish indie outfit not only provide the gorgeous piano-backed tune, but also serve as puppeteers for the Johannes Nyholm-directed video. Set in a dreary forest, the story follows a little girl as she gains the affection of a bizarre-looking bird, only to be lured away by an ill-intentioned dancing skeleton.
Monsters of Folk — “Dear God”
Artist and director Lauri Faggioni — whose whimsical soft-sculpture work can be seen in Michel Gondry’s surreal film The Science Of Sleep — created this dreamy video for the folk supergroup comprised of M. Ward, Mike Mogis, Jim James, and Conor Oberst. In the animated video, we are brought down a portal into a craft-powered universe loaded with paper flames and ocean waves, axes hammering away at intricate wire sculptures surrounding the sun, and fiber art trees that lead us into the spider web-like DNA of a boy.
Josh Ritter — “The Curse”
Comprised of lyrics that tell an adorable tale about a mummy who falls in love with his museum curator, Josh Ritter’s “The Curse” demanded a music video that would bring its unconventional story to life. Luckily, the poetic singer-songwriter’s drummer, Liam Hurley, had years of experience as a marionette puppeteer, and the two decided to collaborate on the video project. Hurley set up shop at the Yale Repertory Theater for three months and constructed the 16-inch puppets out of wood, foam, Sculpee, and umbrella struts before shooting the clip over three days in his Brooklyn apartment.
Sufjan Stevens — “Get Real, Get Right”
In keeping with the themes off his latest record, The Age Of Adz, Sufjan Stevens tips his hat to his source of inspiration — self-professed prophet and schizophrenic artist Royal Robertson — in the form of a music video. With Robertson’s original sci-fi illustrations as the focal point, pops of glitter and confetti explode throughout Stevens’ masterfully animated clip.