OK Go Sings The Body Kaleidoscopic
Published August 5, 2011
OK GO AND PILOBOLUS
OK Go—famous for the treadmill choreography in 2007’s near-perfect “Here It Goes Again” video—tackle each of their projects with a creative edge and eye for aesthetics rarely seen in their pop-rock contemporaries. Want proof? Look no further than the fab four’s new interactive music video for “All Is Not Lost,” a track that’s apparently inspired them to collaborate with Google Chrome, esteemed dance troupe Pilobolus, and lead singer Damian Kulash’s sister Trish Sie, who directed the clip (among some of OK Go’s many others). Like Arcade Fire’s miraculous clip for “The Suburbs,” the new video takes advantage of HTML5 functionality. It features an assortment of browser windows containing an assortment of unitard-clad dancers—OK Go standing out a bit amongst the bunch—who gracefully toss and turn on small glass squares. Eventually, the dancers’ bodies spell out a message entered by the user before viewing the video.
We spoke with the band’s bassist, Tim Nordwind, about “All Is Not Lost,” his love/hate relationship with unitards, and the group’s next project—which will feature the Muppets. And OK Go was kind enough to let us exclusively premiere a behind-the-scenes video about the production of “All Is Not Lost,” which you can see after the jump.
ALEX CHAPMAN: How did the dancers you use in “All Is Not Lost” become a part of the project? They’re pretty incredible.
TIM NORDWIND: Damian and I met when I was about 12, and we went to this camp in Michigan called Interlochen. All sorts of groups would come in from outside the camp to perform, and Piloblous was one of the groups we used to watch. 20 years later, we got a call from them saying they liked our videos and thought we were like-minded people and would like to collaborate with us. We got super excited since we’ve been fans of theirs for a long time. They’re really interesting in that they are this modern dance company that exists in the cracks and gray areas of the dance world. I think you could kinda say the same about Ok Go—I think we’ve been playing on this weird field where you can redefine what it means to be a band. And that’s what Pilobolus does—you can’t quite put a finger on exactly what they’re doing.
CHAPMAN: And how did Damian’s sister Trish come on as the director?
NORDWIND: We’ve done a lot of our videos with her in the past—she went to Interlochen with us as well. She had this real cool concept of building a glass table and shooting up and kinda messing with your expectations of gravity. We went to rehearsals with Pilobolus and started figuring out an arsenal of movement you could do on a table with the given camera angles, and all of a sudden Google called looking to partner with us for another HTML 5 video. So that’s what turned the video from having one glass table to being an interactive video with all these moving parts.
CHAPMAN: Did you find it easy to file in with the dancers? I think you guys manage the perfect amount of sticking out and blending in throughout the video.
NORDWIND: It’s a funny question. There’s no doubt as people we always got along, but there was definitely a growing period at the beginning—obviously they are these incredible, beautiful and also strong and athletic dancers who can pick each other up with their pinkys. We couldn’t do that; there’s just no way. But they were very excited for us to get involved with what they do, and from our perspective we were very excited to see what they could do. Eventually, through a lot of exercises and workshops, we all figured out a way to meet in the middle. But they really are at the top of their game, and it was exciting to spend some time in that world. But man, I am not in touch with my body at all compared to those guys.
CHAPMAN: Speaking of your body, I’m sure you have a new affinity for unitards after that video.
NORDWND: I swear to God, even thinking about the unitards now gives me so much anxiety. My body was not built for clothing like that—I don’t thnk any of our bodies are, especially when you’re up against these dancers, who have chiseled… everything. But I do have a newfound respect for people who wear unitards more than I do, and I guess I’m proud of myself for getting through the time where I wore one.
CHAPMAN: So now that this video’s in the can, what else can we expect from OK Go in the coming months?
NORDWIND: Well, we actually just played for Barack Obama’s birthday party in Chicago. We got to sing “Happy Birthday” to him with Herbie Hancock and Jennifer Hudson. That was pretty awesome.
CHAPMAN: Wow, that’s a huge deal. Did you get to spend any time with him?
NORDWND: We got to hang out with him for a little bit after. He’s a cool dude, I gotta say. Between him and Herbie Hancock, cool was covered. But yeah, we’re playing Lollapalooza this weekend and Outside Lands next weekend. We are making a video with the Muppets next week, which is really exciting for us.
CHAPMAN: How did that come about?
NORDWIND: In the fall, there’s going to be a tribute album that’s coming out for the Muppets, and we covered the Muppet Show theme song, so we’re making a video for that. It’s like an all-star caste of Muppets: Kermit, Sam the Eagle, they’re all gonna be there. And like Pilbolous, I’d like to think the Muppets and us are pretty like-minded people.
CHAPMAN: It seems like you guys would share some qualities. What else is going on?
NORDWIND: We just made a video for Sesame Street teaching kids about primary colors that I think is coming out in December. And then we’re finally gonna begin to write and record for a new record. We’ve worked on this album for 2 and a ½ years now, and made a video for almost every song on the record, so I think we’re interested in getting back [to recroding]. Other than that, I have a new project that’s coming out in the fall called Pyyramids with a singer named Drea.
CHAPMAN: Drea Smith?
CHAPMAN: Oh, very cool—she’s a friend of mine.
NORDWIND: You know her? Oh, really! Are you from Chicago?
CHAPMAN: Yeah, I’m originally from Chicago.
NORDWIND: Oh, cool. She’s great—I just had lunch with her today. So yeah, I think the fall is basically gonna be one more video and a lot more music-making.
CHAPMAN: Certainly sounds busy.
NORDWND: Yeah. All fun though.
WATCH OK GO’S “ALL IS NOT LOST” VIDEO AT WWW.ALLISNOTLO.ST.