Earlier this month, the Danish-American celestial pop-dream duo moon panda (Maddy Myers and Gustave Moltke) released their first album, What on earth, via Fierce Panda Records – with the lead single “Anemone”. The band’s whimsical and transcendent guitar pop, straddling the lines of dream pop, trip hop and psychedelia, has garnered considerable success. They leave in May for a UK tour – they made their debut this month at SXSW.
Their debut album was written as a calming response to the collective anxiety that so many around the world have felt – which is also reflected in their calming animated music videos. Amplifying the otherworldly quality of their music, Moon Panda paired singles from the album with entertaining animation: “Vacationer” was produced with Simona Mehandzhievawhile “Cloud Watching” was done with Andrew Khosravani.
Moltke even learned how to animate so he could create the video for the single “Falling” himself. Describing the production of the music video, he shares, “It was the first thing I ever animated. I took the plastic off the iPad and started drawing this video – with no idea it would be the thing I would be working on next year and the music video for my favorite song from the album! Moltke learned about animation while producing the video, noting, “Throughout this music video, I was learning how to animate and how to use the software, and pretty much how to create a vivid, moving story – and I think when you watch it knowing that it becomes part of the journey.It starts out really rough and sketch-like, and slowly evolves into smoother, more intricate angles and scenes of change.
“I drew almost every picture, it’s about a couple thousand hand-drawn pictures, which unsurprisingly ended up taking longer than expected,” he continues. “I’ve always had so much respect for animators and it’s only grown since this process (thanks to Andrew Khosravani, who hosted 3 amazingly cool videos for us, for being such an inspiration). The only rule that I set myself was that it would all be done in one shot with no cuts. It makes you feel like you’re being sucked into the video and accentuates the feeling of falling. It was also a pretty crazy feeling to create a little guy and his whirlwind of adventure. After jumping, he begins a long chain reaction of mostly terrible events over which he has little or no control. When he finally sees the donut, he has really no choice but to eat it?
Moltke never scripted the piece, opting instead for a more “stream of consciousness” feel. “It was the best to come full circle with this song, creating both the audio and the visual,” he says. “I definitely intend to do it again, but in the meantime, I hope this little trip will make sense for a few people. I know it has been for me.
To verify to fall – Official Video
Referring to the works of Mehandzhieva on the Vacationer video, Moon Panda says, “With demonic characters and an intensely saturated world, the animation is set somewhere in the same universe as Polly Nor and adventure timewith a compound use of striking graphics throughout.
To verify Vacationer – Official Video
In describing his work on the Cloud watching music video, Khosravani explains, “To make the video, it was all about getting the concept right off the bat. The song is so happy, and I wanted the visuals to reflect that, so the ‘narrative’ is incredibly loose and to instead, it’s a series of loosely connected vignettes.
The artist, noting that instead of being character-driven, the dominant theme of the video is architecture and nature, adds, “Everything moves at a snail’s pace, but it gives us time to reflect on the light bouncing off a statue, or the growth of a mushroom. Instead of focusing on a lot of character movement, we focused our energy on adding as much detail to the mundane as possible. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Spanish 3D animator Álvaro Pérez, who created some of the best scenes in the video, taking my sketches and bringing them to life. I think his work really took this video to the next level and added a complexity that I could never have achieved on my own.
To verify Cloud watching – Official Video
Dan Sarto is the publisher and editor of Animation World Network.