Emby Alexander have had a pretty busy year. They released a self-titled EP in March, let Mandi Kimes (their backup vocalist) go, unveiled two music videos this summer, and joined the roster of Bigo & Twigetti, a label in the UK. Their first single through the record company, "Dressed Undressing," is accompanied by a video, once again directed by Trevvor Riley. (Riley and Michael B. Alexander, the band's frontman and namesake, go back a ways, as far as when Alexander was in Boys & Frogs; Riley directed a video for their song, "Let Your Wet Hair Down," and followed up with Emby's "Drag The Long Way Home."
For "Dressed Undressing," Riley and Alexander once again paired creatively, coming up with the concept -- featuring a girl hanging herself on a noose made of flowers, weird masks, lots of cigarettes, more of Eric Kasper's artwork and a tight-knit world filmed in a dreamy, sunlit bedroom -- together.
"I believe the imagery and feel came first. We wanted a small 'world' to work with, so everything was to be written in just one environment," Michael Alexander says. "I wanted to couple the repeating musical refrain with something very striking."
"Me and Trevvor were in his kitchen, and I was drinking Dr Pepper and he was drinking gin, and we had these masks Matthew Wriston had made us. "Dressed" was playing, and Trevvor held up one of the masks to his face and began singing along. I followed, and picked up the other mask, sticking my tongue through the opening in the mouth. We were scaring each other there in the kitchen, so we knew we wanted that in the video."
"i like working with emby because the sounds they make sound really good to my ears, interestingly more than other music i hear regularly, and then there's a thing where i can blink or think and if i blink emby alexander has their eyes wide open and if i think they're perhaps meditating and free of thought, so it works back and forth in this way, like this. don't misquote me as saying i like to cry in people's bedrooms when they're in their kitchens or something." [sic]
Uh, that's what Riley sent me over Facebook, because he is in Spain now, the lucky bastard. I told him and Alexander that I thought their video was a little like a darker, more surreal Wes Anderson (it was mostly the title cards) and that the conversation at the beginning of "Drag the Long Way Home" also evoked the Darjeeling Limited director to me.
"I am a huge fan of Wes Anderson. I fell in love with Royal Tenenbaums when it came out," Alexander says. "I'd watch it with my little sister, and she went out and bought a track suit like Uzi and Ari and we'd do exercises at the park like in the movie. We often refer to specific shots from Wes Anderson movies when we are working. The attention to detail is something we get really in to in all of his movies. I steal from J.D. Salinger a lot. I think Anderson does, too. It's very romantic when you have a feeling that your idols are pulling inspiration from the same sources you are."
Riley disagrees to some extent, saying his directing style in this case was really just culled from how the music made him feel: "if they feel similar it has to be the song and how my brain interprets the song. feels like a stupid answer." [sic]
Additionally, Alexander says they stole a lot from the children's book Eloise by Kay Thompson and also Eric Kasper's art, which is also featured in their previous video and on their album artwork.
"I've known Eric for 10 years. We met through punk rock kids and skateboarding. He's easily the best artist I know or have ever known," Alexander says. "I am always trying to make music like he paints. His art has this immediacy about it that demands attention in a very "pop" way.
"Then you look again and you see the story and the narrative aspect and you know there is a story being told and message he is conveying with people's posture and stare. You look further and notice the characters and the room or the scene is abnormal. There will be twenty or thirty colors on a character's face. So many details the deeper you want to explore."
But if that's not enough, Emby Alexander have been doing well getting their name out there. According to Alexander, "Drag the Long Way Home" is number one on Radioactive FM in Wellington, New Zealand, and they're also getting press in London, New York, and Spain.
"It's really surreal and wonderful. I can send these sad little pop songs out and somebody in the other hemisphere connects with it," Alexander says. "Bigo and Twigetti found us and we've had a little bit of negotiation and we seemed to be on the same wavelength so we agreed to work together. Pretty simple and painless and beautiful when you feel someone is working as hard as you."
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Their first release on Bigo & Twigletti is available on Bandcamp. For now, Emby plans to continue touring the Southwest and says a European tour is coming within a year.
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