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Interview with Emilee Seymour, Art Director of Paris Combo's “Notre Vie Comme un Western”

It begins with the explosion of a supernova: Hundreds of stars are brought forth into existence, and, out of them – riding on the celestial whirlwind – appear two constellations: one of a galloping horse and one of a soaring eagle. The two animals proceed to chase each other, traversing across the vast expanse of stylized outer space. In their journey they encounter strange planets boasting cacti and mountain ranges, all of which add to the surreal heavenly dance…

This is the beginning of the music video Notre Vie Comme un Western, brought to life using stop-motion.

The film – the brainchild of French writer-director Aćim Vasić and the illustrator-photographer-designer Emilee Seymour – came from the two creatives’ partnership with the band Paris Combo for their song “Notre Vie Comme Un Western,” which is off of their album “Tako Tsubo,” which was released on March 24th of this year.

The music video has gone on to be the official selection of several prestigious film festivals, such as the Melbourne International Animation Festival, the UNCG 2017 Short Film Festival, the Open World Animation Festival, and the Art All Night Trenton Film Festival.

I was fortunate enough to recently interview Emilee, where I asked her about her and Aćim’s inspiration for the film, as well as the stylistic techniques used in the film.

My thanks goes out to Emilee for kindly answering my questions, as well as to Aćim, who was able to share with me the behind-the-scenes pictures that are posted below, along with the video.

Here’s my interview with Emilee:

A.H. Uriah: Your music video Notre Vie Comme Un Western is such a unique piece of art. How did the idea for it take shape in your and Aćim's minds?

Emilee Seymour: When Aćim and I listened to Paris Combo's ‘Notre vie comme un Western’, we saw a beautiful, dreamy animation would suit it best. Lotte Reiniger was a huge inspiration – I've wanted to create something using that kind of style and technique for years, and this was the perfect project for it. The music gave us a sense of being on a surreal, slow-moving carousel, of things spinning and turning, recurring and revolving. The idea that the lyrics of the song convey is 'our life as a Western' and how beautiful it is when we sow seeds and love grows. Reflecting upon and discussing at length this kind of imagery led us to create the story of our video – it's something of a Western, complete with a horse and an eagle and cacti and tumbleweeds, only set in outer space, where constellations come to life and a new lunar system (as opposed to a solar system) is born.

A.H.: Through doing a little bit of research, I quickly found out how exhaustive your repertoire is, and I was interested to discover that you primarily worked in design, live-action video, and photography before beginning your career in animation. What skills and techniques come from working in these other mediums that you found that can benefit working in animation – particularly stop motion?

Emilee: I work across many visual media in parallel – photography, illustration, graphic design, video – and I write, and I dance, and I'm trying to learn how to play music too! Most artists I know work in more than one medium – Aćim is one of the few whose work is concentrated only on writing and directing, though he almost has a side career in plotting practical jokes on friends and loved ones!

The freedom to choose the technique according to the idea or the project in question is so important – and if we don't already have the required skills in advance, we'll learn them. Aćim has experimented making films with HD cameras, iPhones and GoPros, and is now looking into VR, where as for me, I love combining traditional fine arts techniques with the digital – Photoshop, AfterEffects.

For Notre vie Comme un Western, stop motion animation worked so well for the song, but for the next music video I directed for Paris Combo in March of this year, Je suis partie, a live action video that featured the band members and their instruments was the right solution. The 'Western' video is actually the first time either of us have used a stop motion technique, though we've each used computers for various other animated music video projects –  Jupiter for Vinyl Jacket, I Will Be Better for Osmi Vazduh.

A.H.: Do you have any upcoming projects that excite you that you can tell our readers about?

Emilee: Aćim's latest music video was released just last week – second video for Osmi Vazduh, a cool electro-pop band from Belgrade, for their song 'Can't Move.' He's also in the middle of writing two very funny scripts – one for a film, one for a web series. I'm working on an illustrated book, a few design projects, and looking at adding another medium to my repertoire, something I've been dying to try for years, and I think that now might just be the time. And Aćim and I will possibly collaborate on another music video or two this summer!

You can go watch Notre Vie Comme un Western by going here, or by visiting Aćim's Vimeo channel.

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