Behind Danny L Harle's 'Ashes of Love' Video
By Justin Moran
PC Music’s Danny L Harle has his sights set on reforming pop, embracing the glossy sheen of immediate, satisfying soundscapes and subverting radio simplicity with provocative undertones.
Following the release of his debut EP Broken Flowers, the London producer’s been diving deeper into pop staples, like Carly Rae Jepsen, and more recently dropped a single with Chairlift singer/songwriter Caroline Polachek, called “Ashes of Love.” Harle shaped the track around Polachek’s melodic vocals, distorting her soft, organic tenor with hyper-emotional, electric production—sounds amplified by director Sam Rolfes’ manic CGI music video.
In the film—a manic visual spectacle—we see a digital rendering of Polachek virtually dancing and singing along to Harle’s music. Rolfes, a regular Nicopanda collaborator, said he wanted viewers to feel like they’re inside the video moving along with the performer.
“The initial thought that catalyzed the whole video was that of adapting the first-person perspective I’ve been beginning to work with, using VR as my camera, to structure the animation around a virtual dance with Caroline,” Rolfes said. “Set within a crumbling performance space, this video was performed dozens of times, with the official video being our favorite recording out of all of them.”
To do this, Rolfes pulled together the various pieces of Polachek’s digital body inside a game engine, using an Oculus Rift to control head motions with a Playstation controller in the other hand to move her feet. Meanwhile, his developer Erik Anderson was manning a keyboard with buttons that triggered changes in the scene to progress the fragmented, spastic environment.
“We had to spend a good amount of time choreographing every scene change [and] every new release of particles and confetti,” he said. “I had to spend a number of hours refining my end of the dance to match Caroline’s since she’s a far better dancer than me.”