My adoration for Bellows continues. In 2014 Blue Breath became one of my top albums of the year. The band played a wonderful Tiny Desk concert in 2015, and this past summer I played the song "Thick Skin" from Bellows' new album, Fist & Palm, on All Songs Considered. It's that eerie pop that first endeared me to Oliver Kalb's project, and now, with the song's new video, you can see the pop blossom.
This is the first video Oliver Kalb has ever made. He told me in an email that the video, which he created with filmmaker Rob Kolodny, was inspired by the kinds of videos he loved growing up: ones with quick edits that propel the song.
"Making the music video for 'Thick Skin,' I was thinking especially about the motion of the track — the dynamic twists and turns and the changing drum beats," he says. "I wanted the editing to be tied with these changes in the music. 'Thick Skin' was one of the first songs I wrote for Fist & Palm. When I wrote it, it felt like it signaled a change in direction for Bellows' sound — the song just feels so boldly pop, and I wanted the music video to feel as warm and inviting as the music."
The video was shot around New York City, where Oliver Kalb grew up. He took Rob Kolodny to his old high school, to Chinatown, to Washington Square Park. "The video sort of retraces the steps I took discovering New York for the first time as a teenager," he says. "I'm showing Rob around these places that were so significant for me growing up, and inviting the viewers to follow us around these places that still sit in my memory in such a rich way."
Rob Kolodny says he used a "grab-bag" of techniques in filming "Thick Skin." In an email, he writes that "this video was all about movement and fluidity. Oliver was very giving with his personal narrative and that autobiography, on his part, sculpted the momentum of the video. We employ a grab-bag of cinematic techniques throughout 'Thick Skin,' most notably whip panning, very high shutter speeds, match cutting, slow motion, chroma key combined with public domain stock footage and hyper-lapse photography. The hyper-lapsing was really interesting — I did that on off days when Oliver and I weren't together and it consisted of me taking individual still photographs with a central object always in the same place within the frame. For the Brooklyn Bridge shot, I took one photo every ten steps for the entire length of the bridge and then stitched them together in post."
It's a wonderful result, constantly shifting but with a playful sense of purpose.
The album Fist & Palm is out now on Double Double Whammy.