A robot rises out of a lake at dusk and starts walking through weeds, tottering over logs and train tracks, looking for—what else?—true love. It’s not the first scene I saw in my mind’s eye when I listened to Vancouver artist BOjM aka Jenn Bojm’s new single “The Truth Of,” but then again, none of the tracks on her debut album, Battlestar, are easy to visualize. BOjM’s sound is all about the spacious drift of details.
“The Truth Of” stands tall with classically trained vocals that are light and airy and a menacing, rumbling bass throughout that will vibrate your senses. You can call it dream pop, sure, but your phone alarm is going off under the pillow. Either way, it’s good music to get lost in, so maybe that explains why Cameron MacLeod, the music video’s director, opted for this winsome robot-romance, shot partly in stop-motion and set in the wild.
Filmed in Vancouver, the video takes inspiration from the journeys people are willing to go on to find true love, and the signposts that guide them along the way. We spoke to MacLeod and Bojm to find out the truth behind “The Truth Of,” while learning the inspiration behind the video, the song, and their collaboration.
How did this collaboration come about? Did you know of each other’s work beforehand or is this your first time collaborating?”
Cameron MacLeod: I’ve known Jenn through the China Cloud art/music/comedy community for nearly a decade and have worked with her partner Colin Cowan of Elastic Stars Productions on short films, sketch comedy videos and live performances at The HERO SHOW for even longer. Colin and I once had a baseball inspired improv show at Little Mountain Gallery called The Dugout where Jenn would come out as a different pop star each show and sing the national anthem. She absolutely nailed impressions of Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, which goes to show just how talented a vocalist she is.
Jenn, you’ve mentioned in past interviews that your songs often start out as ‘gibberish improvisations.’ What got you to start writing that way?
Jenn Bojm: I used to write a lot more folk music. For that I would always write in advance. For other musical areas of my life I love improv and more of a sense of ‘play.’ I wanted to embrace that side of things for this project. It’s an approach I’m quite used to, but I went that way with a lot more songs on this record. I didn’t keep gibberish in per se, but listened back to what words or themes I could hear back and then crafted from them the lyrics for songs.
You have also spoken about how some of your songs start as poems. Does this mean that you usually write the lyrics before the instrumentation?
JB: There are a couple of songs that I did pre-write as poems. So I just sort of pieced together different lyrical approaches.
What made you go with a true love narrative between stop-motion robots? Did you hear this song and immediately have that story in mind?
CM: My original concept for the video involved a girl’s doll coming to life and climbing out of a human-sized bed to find a robot that lived underneath it. They were then going to dance, fall in love, and fly off together, but when we were sourcing the doll, we came across the two robots and thought they were a great duo so I pitched this concept of the newer robot travelling to earth and going on a journey to find and rescue the old rusty robot who had been left behind. I also wanted to dabble with stop-motion and shoot something that was fun to make that would have me in exterior locations during the end of summer.
Jenn, you strike me as an artist who doesn’t care too much about genre. Do you think your future records will move as freely as Battlestar?”
JB: I would say you are correct in saying I don’t care too much about genre. That’s because I love so much music and like to embrace that as much as I can. So much of music is so interconnected so I also like to play with those connections. I do think I will integrate this improvised element and play in future records, but that’s not to say I won’t toy with other methods of writing too!
Where did you get your inspiration for the visuals?
CM: The visuals I selected for the green screen section at the end of the video are supposed to represent what it can feel like when falling in love or being reunited with someone after a long period of time, while also literally showing the robots lifting off and leaving earth to head home. The visuals themselves are Sun Ra inspired, created by Giorgio Magnanensi and provided by Colin Cowan.
What are some of your favourite music videos and why?
CM: I love music videos that tell a story and don’t take themselves too seriously. Michel Gondry’s video for “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters is one of my favourites, as is “Body Movin” by the Beastie Boys, directed by MCA’s alias, Nathanial Hornblower. And although it’s a sci-fi drama and not comedic at all, the story and video for “Oh Baby” by LCD Soundsystem, directed by Rian Johnson, is incredible.
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