We ask the multi-talented Woodkid (aka Yoann Lemoine) to expound on the inspirations behind his music and video work, which has seen him team up with everyone from Lana Del Rey to Katy Perry.
Woodkid started his career by making critically acclaimed videos (remember the Take Care video with Drake and Rihanna canoodling over a Jamie xx beat?) but has since branched into making music himself – with pretty excellent results. Not every fledgling musician ends up inspiring the Dior Homme AW13 show, as Woodkid did with his song Iron. With one eye on his music and another one on the visual package of the song, Woodkid is as likely to churn out a hit as he is an award-winning video. Below, we get him to expand on his inspirations and influences.
1. Steven Spielberg
“The filmmakers I watched when I was a kid were big, mainstream directors like Spielberg or Stanley Kubrick – the only ones I would have access to as a little kid growing up in the middle of France. With Spielberg, it was about how his subjects were treated and the emotion he had in his films. There’s something about his camera work that’s very unique, and that’s what I like about him.”
2. Gus Van Sant
“Elephant is his best movie, but I have a very strong soft spot for Paranoid Park. I love how he injects violence into something very casual and mundane – when the kid is shot in Elephant or in the Paranoid Park death scene, it’s a shock to reality. The contrast between reality and violence is so big that it’s much more impressive than a Tarantino movie, where it’s all about the violence.”
3. Philip Glass
“When I was younger, I’d listen to a lot of soundtracks and I randomly fell on Philip Glass’ soundtrack for Koyaanisqatsi. The first time I listened to his music, I could feel emotions that were indescribable – it wasn’t pain, it wasn’t nostalgia, it wasn’t uplifting – the emotion that came out was very alien, in a way. I’ve always been fascinated by the power of music to create emotions.”
5. Rap and hip-hop rhythms
“When I created my album, we sampled a lot of orchestral music but we built on patterns and structures that are actually from rap beats. Right now I’m fascinated by Kendrick Lamar; I was at his show a couple of days ago and I think he’s the best rapper out there right now. Of course I love Jay-Z, and I have a soft spot for Kanye – people forget he’s an amazing producer, and his connection with visuals is mind-blowing.”
6. Michel Gondry
“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if Gondry wasn’t a director. He made the videos I would see on TV – I think the first Michel Gondry video I saw was Bjork’s ‘Bachelorette’. I just remember watching them over and over, like I was studying them. But now, I feel like I’m getting closer to directors like Chris Cunningham or Spike Jonze because I’m getting more cinematic and less playful with what I do. I try to tell stories that are a little more realistic.”
Woodkid’s debut album, The Golden Age, is out on 18th March. www.woodkid.com
Words: Zing Tsjeng