July 19, 2017
Frontman Damian Kulash and bassist Tim Norwind sat down with Mashable to discuss the video for “This One Moment,” in which hundreds of small events take place in a matter of seconds thanks to a small army of robotic arms, several cameras to capture it all and some very intense planning.
“I have this spreadsheet that is massive that I was working on for a month, and sometimes I would look at it and it would not be numbers anymore, it was just squiggles,” says Kulash, who directed the video. “There were times that my brain just cracked.”
“I don’t understand a goddamn thing on that spreadsheet,” Norwind laughs, but he’s willing to take credit for having the most challenging role on the actual shoot. The rhythm required to lip sync, operate a flip book and then soar through the air as a human canvas in such a precise timeline is the sort of thing a bassist is uniquely qualified for.
The band, who became known for creative videos a decade ago when their synchronized moves on the treadmill for “Here It Goes Again” went viral, typically creates them in one shot. But they had to use multiple cameras this time around to capture everything in such a short time span.
The first part of the video, in which exploding paint buckets create a rainbow and water balloons function as rain clouds, takes place in just 4.2 seconds. Kulash sings for seven seconds in real time, and then it’s back to slow motion for the grand finale, which actually happened in three seconds.
“We’re always trying something that is just on the edge of possible,” explains Kulash. “If the line of what’s possible is just this hairline thing, we’re just trying to inch over it just for like, three minutes and then we come back.”
Kulash, who worked as a designer before becoming a musician full time, is psyched to be creating videos in an age where so many different skill sets have an audience, “I really like that the internet is a place that creativity can flourish in uncategorized ways.” For OK Go, that means recruiting scientists to help pop balloons, but it also applies to kids in their bedrooms starting out.
“When the biggest music streaming service on the planet is YouTube and it comes with a visual channel, the idea that all musicians aren’t visual artists is kind of crazy,” he explains. “You still get a video channel for your music, it might just be a still of your album cover.”
“When I think about bands like Fugazi, the Pixies, Stone Roses, the Cure … I didn’t get to see them talk when I was a kid. I had the music, and that was it,” says Norwind.
But the information age does bring them some anxieties, particularly the extent to which you can curate your own experiences and news feeds to stay in a bubble.
Kulash says he didn’t have the current political landscape in mind when he wrote the song, but he feels the timing is right for the video’s prescient message.
“The whole point is that it’s actually the most beautiful thing that we’re temporary that we have to experience this in real time, and the choruses are like, so this is the fucking moment. It’s incredible to watch it shift with the political context. It’s actually, oh god, it’s ending, and this is the moment it ended.”