Interview: OK Go on the Rebirth of the Music Video
If YouTube page-views were currency, the members of OK Go would be very rich men. Instead, they're just hardworking musicians, artists, and creative polymath muckrakers who've become rather famous for producing and starring in some of the best-made - and most viewed - music videos of the past decade: the synchronized treadmill classic "Here It Goes Again," which boasts 52 million YouTube views, and the Rube Goldberg machine video for "This Too Shall Pass," from its current album Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, which is approaching 17 million views. Now, their video "White Knuckles" is burning up Youtube bandwidth at alarming rate. And thanks to a recent high-profile split with Capitol/EMI and the formation of its own label, Paracadute Recordings, OK Go now finds itself not only increasingly famous, but more in control of its creative and financial destiny than ever before. And the band is counting on that being a good thing. OK Go frontman Damian Kulash spoke to S+V about the band's video prowess and the seismic changes occurring in the music business that continue to affect how music gets disseminated.
Is there a set process for doing your videos?
It all starts with an idea, and then we try and match the best song to the video we want to make. And since our goal is creativity rather than commerce, we have a greater liberty to make things we think will be fun. We like to work with talented people, although often our projects take them out of the comfort zone of what they typically do or work on.
With the backyard dancing video ["A Million Ways"], we didn't really even think of it as a video; we were thinking, "Let's do something totally different in our show," and we came up with this ridiculous dance routine to do during our shows, so we could drop our instruments and break into dance routine and f--- with our crowd. We made a practice tape of it, and it was so ludicrous and funny that we sent it around to our friends. The impulse was, "Here's something funny, let's show it to our friends," and someone posted the video on a site called iFilm, I think; this was before YouTube. No one paid much attention, but a month or two later someone emailed us and said we had 180,000 hits on iFilm. And that was as many records as we'd sold, total, at that point. So we didn't really know what it was, but we did know it was something and people were paying attention to it. The response we got convinced us it was a music video.