Old computers with photos of Sevdaliza, Remi Wolf, Ashnikko and Jean Dawson

Pixel Perfect: These Musicians Are Using Digital Art To Tell Their Stories

We’re living in a digital world and these artists are leading the pack. 

by Daniel Hartmann

Photo illustration by Erik Grice

From Travis Scott taking over Fortnite with his virtual concert to Grimes embracing the NFT craze by combining digital art with exclusive tracks to earn herself $6 million in sales, the past year has been full of examples of musicians effectively evolving their love affair with Synesthesia. Any artist with engaging visuals, whether in the form of music videos, an elevated website, or press photos that pop has a competitive advantage in that they’re not solely relying on their music to stand out. 

Here are six acts we love who have embraced a unique approach to their visual aesthetic, adding another dimension to their music.

Ashnikko

 

To say Ashnikko is unique would be a colossal understatement. The hyper-pop singer/rapper has created a world for herself full of anime and anarchy and it’s wholly original. From her signature blue hair to her consistently chaotic visuals, Ashnikko relies on elements from the digital realm to complement her melodic and sometimes abrasive overtures. Since her breakthrough in 2019, Ashnikko has released next-level music videos that include going door to door covered in blood in “STUPID.” She joined forces with Grimes to become a multi-headed monster in the 3D anime video for “CRY.“And we are still processing her latest visually stunning multicolour ballad that is “Panic Attacks In Paradise” where she reckons with past trauma while rolling around an orchard full of bad apples. If you’re still looking for more, make sure you check out her complementary B-side track, “Maggots.”

Remi Wolf

Remi Wolf had a breakout year in 2020 with her EP, I’m Allergic To Dogs!, and she’s continuing that momentum with her latest album, Juno. Wolf’s songs are funky chaotic pop bangers that demand your attention, and her videos channel a similar vibe. Every track on her breakout EP had a music video, all of them done by artist/director August Yr, a 3D animator who shares Wolf’s love for 2000s media and meme culture. The pair took inspiration from the movie Spy Kids, making them ultra colorful, geometrical, and often absurdist. The digital models of Wolf which appear made out of plastic give the rising artist a real Fooglies vibe in the best way possible.

Jean Dawson

 

Jean Dawson’s Pixel Bath was full of genre-blending jams making it a stand-out album of 2020.  Complemented by daring visuals, Dawson was the creative director for all his assets, taking inspiration from his album’s themes of teenhood and its digital aesthetic. His website looks like a computer terminal with information like tracklists or media appearances appearing like data on a hacker’s laptop. Dawson’s music videos are unpredictable in the best way, constantly jumping from one visual effect or animation to another. His video for “Bruise Boy” is a graphical rave filled with movement, neon lights, and a range of engaging digital effects.

Sevdaliza

 

Avant-pop singer/producer Sevdaliza has released some of the most stunning and engaging visual albums in recent times. The Iranian-born artist has two albums that are accentuated by visual releases, Ison and Shabrang; both using digital effects to convey their themes. The Ison video is gorgeous: in it, two busts of the singer’s head (a blood-red sculpture and a life-like digital rendering) convulse and merge, serving as a backdrop to deeply introspective tracks. The singer is heavily involved with her visuals, having gone as far as co-directing her music videos for “Joana,” “Oh My God,” and “Bluecid.”

Superorganism

 

UK indie pop collective Superorganism stands out with their all-out approach to everything, especially their visuals. Music videos for “Everybody Wants To Be Famous” and “The Prawn Song” throw everything at the screen, including eight-bit animation, endless meme references, and the entire colour wheel. Their website is a shrine to internet culture, encapsulating the band’s maximalist aesthetic. It also has a sidescroller version of the “Something For Your M.I.N.D” music video so fans can experience the song in an entirely new way.

Arca 

Even if you don’t know her by name, you’ve probably stumbled upon nonbinary Latinx singer and producer Arca: she helped produce tracks for FKA Twigs, Bjork, and Kanye West. Her last album, KiCK i, addresses topics like sexuality and gender over glitch-pop and reggaeton-inspired beats. Her visuals are just as imaginative and transgressive as her music. Music videos for tracks like “Nonbinary” and “Time” are incredibly unique; dystopic sci-fi fantasy topped off with raw sexual energy.

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