Composer meets Director: The making of King Black Acidís "Soul Systems Burn" video

by Monique Van Doorn
Photographs courtesy of Justin Lowe

From Aural Innovations #22 (January 2003)

In 2002 KING BLACK ACID surprised the world by pitching seven brand new songs at the soundtrack of "The Mothman Prophecies", a major motion picture with Richard Gere and Laura Linney. A year later, we can say that this was the key to a great success that followed. Not only did the album, and KBAís contribution in particular, receive numerous positive press reviews in leading American music magazines, it was also the bandís musical introduction to Europe. All over Europe, from Finland to Italy, KING BLACK ACIDís music was embraced with enthusiasm. And a rapidly growing following, anxious to join the Acid Army, soon became a fact.
But the story continued as Portland, Oregon based filmmaker Justin Lowe, a fan of the bandís music who really wanted to visualize their music, came up with the idea of making a video. He showed them his work, and asked if he could shoot one of their radio interviews and some live shows, promising that the footage would result in a couple of clips for the bandís website. What followed was way beyond that... A music video for "Soul Systems Burn", a track previously released on "The Mothman Prophecies".
Wicked cool. Sexy. Very Red. KING BLACK ACID as youíve never seen them before...

AI: What brought you guys together in this project?

Justin: I had the idea of making a video for the band for a long time. The original plan was to make some short clips, but instead I cut an hour-long documentary/pitch video that basically said "You are crazy if you don't let me do a video for you." It worked.

Daniel: Right... a documentary that included interviewing people on the street and having them sing along with a KBA song while listening to a Walkman! Justin is a freak... he sold me on the idea.

AI: Soul Systems Burn, of all seven King Black Acid tracks on the Mothman Prophecies soundtrack and KBAís music in general, is sort of a "stand-alone". A very sensuous, ambient and Ďclubbyí style track thatís totally different from anything else done before. How do you explain that?

Daniel: We made the song as a short piece designed to sync with a make out scene in the movie. Later we embellished the soundscape and made it a song. Its unique stand out sound was the precise reason I chose it for making a video. I was not as emotionally attached to it. This allowed me to feel much more free to experiment.

Justin: It's totally different then the usual King Black Acid sound... much more European and abstract which really clicked with me because I'd much rather be making sexy music videos in Europe then filming a pop band in LA in front of a blue screen.

AI: The video has been released as an independent art project. Does this mean you wanted to create a concept that completely stands apart from the Mothman movie itself? Or are the two linked somehow?

Daniel: We wanted to make art. Justin adds... It's important to note that this video has been made on the most independent and low-fi level. Yet it stands up to big budget videos. We just want to show people what you can do when you get a bunch of talented people together... you can make beautiful stuff without having a Hollywood budget. I would say concept-wise, the video is separate from the Mothman movie, but mood-wise it is similar.

AI: Interpretations vary from a Goth club scene to even a freaky gynaecologist practice. Looking at the video, you automatically start looking for a storyline. Is that the way we should look at it or is it a more experimental art project where sound and vision come together?

Justin: People really like structure and storyline and it's something they look for. But when you watch something like this you almost need to turn your mind off and just experience it. I want to make stuff that takes you to another world and gives you an emotional experience with the least possible set up possible. But I can tell you that we did try to flush out a storyline, and certain decisions in editing lead us to see that it needed to go... it needed to be more abstract.

Daniel: We gave up the idea of a story line and went for colour, texture, layering, movement and vibe.

AI: What kind of audience is it that you want to reach with this video?

Daniel: We hope to reach all people. I can't think of anyone who I would not want to enjoy our music or art. The small percentage of the population that doesn't want to be spoon fed Normality. Those who like their meals subtle and surprising... specifies Justin.

AI: Was the whole band KBA involved in the creative process of making the video? How did you guys co-operate?

Justin laughs... It says "Directed by Justin Lowe" at the end of the video, but it really should have Daniel's name up there too because this cat pushed me and pushed me to make this puppy the best it could be. At first, Daniel was very detailed and we spent a solid month preparing for the shoot, concepting, tweaking... Then on the day of the shoot he just did his thing and gave me complete control to direct away. I asked him later why he had started with a tight lock on the video, then completely let go and gave me full freedom when we shot.

Daniel: It's because I know you're a pinball. When you shot with us at the radio station you were running all around. Changing angles. So I just wanted to give you a lot of flippers and boundaries for the video so you could do your best work and not land in the gutter..." (grinning).

AI: How would you describe the video in a few words?

Daniel: Watch it!

That sounds like a good idea, and itís actually possible right here on the spot. Simply click on the video logo below to stream the video in Windows Media format. Those of you using Netscape as a browser have to download the video file first (app. 10 MB).

Rather have your own personal copy of the video plus some extras?
A promotional cd-rom with the (free downloadable) Quicktime version of the "Soul Systems Burn" video comes as a gift with purchase of any KING BLACK ACID cd through their European website "The Acid Files." (

Note: All cd sales through The Acid Files are without commercial benefit and officially on behalf of KING BLACK ACID.

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