Words by Jyoti Mann.
Malachi James, first-year BA (Hons) Animation student, recently had the opportunity to create an animation video for recent Planet Battagon release ‘Like You, Like Me’ from ‘Episode 01’ on Basement Jaxx’s record label Atlantic Jaxx.
We spoke to Malachi to find out about his experience working on the project.
How did the collaboration come about?
A friend of mine knew the musician Tugg the Drummer. Tugg told my friend that he was looking for an animator to work with for a visual music project. I was recommended and we immediately started brainstorming after he contacted me. At first, the label e-mailed me demos and rough mixes from the album to listen to. They also sent me a synopsis of the story behind the music and the album artwork. In return, I sent them some rough sketches and storyboards. When I heard the project was under Atlantic Jaxx, I was eager to use all the skills I had learnt on my animation course and do the best job possible.
Did you receive much creative input from the label?
Atlantic Jaxx were quite specific about what they wanted but they also left some room for me to experiment on my own. They knew that the music was experimental, fun and humorous so they wanted some animation to compliment that. As an animator it’s very good to have creative input from a commissioner.
What was the inspiration behind and concept for the video?
When Tugg and I spoke on the phone, he mentioned the famous scene in Star Wars: A New Hope when Luke Skywalker and C-3PO walk into that weird bar with monsters and you hear that silly music in the background. That scene was definitely something that sparked an idea in him. From there, Atlantic Jaxx had developed a story about four robot-like creatures that are called upon by Lord Battagon to build musical drones. The psychedelic feel was a result of combining visual inspiration I personally gathered and their narrative.
Aside from Jack Baker, the drummer from Bonobo, who was involved in the production of ‘Like You, Like Me’?
Mainly Tugg… I remember sitting in his studio and listening to him talk about the characters, stories and how he had the idea to do the album floating around for a while. He also seems to have a lot of ideas for the future of Planet Battagon. The funny thing is, sort of like Gorillaz, Tugg made the animated characters the musicians. The real musicians aren’t credited.
What has been the highlight for you in this opportunity?
The amount I learnt. I learnt more about working with people online, in person, business, timing animation to music and not being afraid to experiment visually.
What have you learnt from LCC that has helped you to land this job?
I have learnt the importance of networking and building personal connections. On my course, they encourage us to do those things. LCC has given me the opportunity to develop myself professionally by giving me access to their facilities and allowing me to go in my own direction. It’s all about making a name for yourself and networking. I would have struggled with this job if I had not learnt all the practical things you need to know as an animator. I learnt how to be an efficient animator at LCC. When I went into this job, I learnt how to balance my creative faculties, in terms of being experimental and practical.
What are you most looking forward to in the next stage of your career and any future plans?
I have had some hints from Atlantic Jaxx that they would like to work with me again on another album in the near future and I welcome it. At the moment, I am involved in a potential project with the University of Kent for Ted-Ed. I plan to work with a lot more organisations for the rest of my time at University. I’m aiming to work as an animator in Los Angeles soon after I graduate. What I am really striving for is to create my own animated show on a streaming service like Netflix. For now, every little step towards this goal counts.