What Goes Into an Iglooghost Video
by Liam Thomas
Iglooghost is the moniker of Seamus Malliagh, a UK native who is making some of the most exciting electronic music in recent memory. Iglooghost’s music is deeply complex, unapologetically frantic, and wholly original, but his appeal extends far beyond the auditory. Iglooghost is one of very few artists who has crafted an entire alternate universe that his music takes place in, complete with comprehensive backstories for all of Seamus’s eccentric cartoon creations. Iglooghost’s absolutely bonkers world was brought to life in the visually stunning video for “Clear Tamei,” a single taken from his recent double EP. The project was directed by Emerson alumni Luke Gibson. I caught up with Luke to discuss the process of working with an artist as wholly outlandish as Iglooghost, and to learn what went into the production of the “Clear Tamei” video.
LUKE GIBSON - Director & Editor
So you’ve collaborated with Iglooghost on a number of videos, I just want to know what brought you two together in the first place?
We actually grew up together. I met Seamus when I was around like 8, in primary school in Dorset, England. So we’ve just known each other literally for years, and we’ve been making like jokey sketch-videos since we were around twelve. We’ve always had that relationship of just being good friends who made stuff together. So he started making music properly when he was around 14, and it’s been really interesting to watch him settle into his current style. Even when I moved to America when I was 16 we kept in touch, and when I came back to England in the summer of 2013 we made our first music video together. That was kind of when I was getting into video production, and I knew I was interested in music videos, and the two of us had been coming up doing similar things. Obviously, I was more on the visual side and he was more on the musical side, but knowing each other made collaborating really easy.
Out of all your videos for Iglooghost, The “Clear Tamei” video stands out to me as particularly stunning, could you just describe your creative process directing that video?
Sure. Seamus sent me the track in January, a couple months before he released it on his double EP Clear Tamei and Steel Mogu. The track was a really different pace from a lot of his other songs, and it was one of the first times I had heard him go all-out on the vocals. It blew my mind, even though it was in a completely made up language. I really wanted to do a video for “Clear Tamei,” and since Seamus and I had been working together for a while at that point, I wanted to go all out. After that he came out to LA (where I was for the semester), we started working on the video. I think the defining part of my creative process was knowing what our resources were at the time. Seamus knew he wanted to include a lot of still-life 3D art, so I brought my friend Casey Denton onto the shoot. Casey’s an excellent 3D animator, and it was really great to have him on the team because a majority of the visuals Iglooghost wanted to incorporate we couldn’t really do in-camera. We had access to a simple, plain white studio, so we kinda repurposed that to represent this void, sort of a space outside of anywhere. We incorporated other little things, like few small props we had at our disposal, into the narrative of the story. But most importantly, since we were in California at the time, we decided to shoot a part of the video in Joshua Tree. We basically just took advantage of every resource at our disposal.
How is it collaborating with an artist who is overflowing with details about the universe of his music?
That’s a great question. It makes some parts easier, I guess. Like, he’ll come to me with an idea that I know is consistent with the universe, and I build off of that. It’s really nice to know that I can influence the universe of the music a little bit, with what I’m bringing to the table visually. There’s obviously a bit less conceptualizing to do on my end; my job as the director is to more-or-less facilitate the visual realization of a really, really specific artistic vision. I take some of the ideas from out of Seamus’s head and bring them to life. It’s really cool to have someone trusting you to help them create their reality, and to help write the story of this world as we go. As far as music goes, it’s pretty rare for stuff like this to have such a specific and detailed storyline behind it.
Absolutely. I honestly can’t really think of many other artists that are putting as much emphasis on narrative as Iglooghost is.
Totally. Like having characters, each album acting as a chapter in a bigger story, it’s not something you see every day.
That brings me to my next question, which is a little speculative. Brainfeeder, the label that signed Iglooghost when he was only 18, is one of very few record labels with a separate film division. Do you think there is any possibility of an Iglooghost movie in the near future?
It’s definitely not out of the question. We’re working on something that’s kinda like that currently, and we wanna go even bigger than what we did with the “Clear Tamei” video. I keep asking him if we should put together a short film, but I don’t know if it would be released as a part of Brainfeeder Films, because I think a lot of their projects are entirely produced in-house. I mean, I would love to work with them to make this happen, but I don’t know. But an Iglooghost movie, that would be pretty cool. It’s definitely something we’d have to work towards, maybe by including more narrative elements throughout the music videos.
Do you have anything else you’ve been working on recently that you wanna highlight?
I’m trying to make another Iglooghost video happen, only this time shoot it back in England instead of LA. So that’s definitely on the horizon for next year. As far as myself, I’m trying to make more music videos with similar artists. Seamus has a really good network with artists like Zack Villere and Mr. Yote, and while nothing is confirmed yet, I’m looking forward to working with people who want their videos made at a level that we can provide for them: a small crew, family style shoot, and a big idea.