“Mad World” Mastermind Michael Andrews Collaborates with High-School Kids On New Video
Psychedelic flashes of Hello Kitty and Albert Einstein blend into vignettes of summery nostalgia in Josh Hassin’s animated music video for Michael Andrews’ “Bubbles in Space.” Comprising 3,000 frames hand-drawn by more than 100 students from San Diego’s High Tech High International, the flipbook-style piece was based on a live-action film Hassin and retro-pop singer-songwriter Andrews shot with their children, but takes Andrews’ lyrical concept of new fatherhood to an unexpected place. “I have a little girl, Mike has a little boy, and we think they’re so cute,” says Hassin, who has created videos for the likes of indie rock bands Metric and Celebration. “The school kids drew them and put crucifixes on their foreheads and other crazy stuff. But this is what goes on in their brains. So we just let that roll—it’s honest and that’s what this is about.” A prolific film composer with credits including Donnie Darko, which featured his breakout cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” with Gary Jules, and Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, Andrews is currently working on the score for Mira Nair’s new film adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Ahead of his new album Spilling a Rainbow, the musician talked us through his pregnant musical journey, from being uncomfortably numb to stealing love songs.
You and Josh Hassin collaborated with student artists on this video. What do you think the kids took away from the experience?
Michael Andrews: There’s a really misconceived thing that people who are creative don’t work hard: like, I just wait for inspiration to strike! Brian Wilson worked hard on his music. Everybody I know, even the weirdest guys I know, that you’re like, 'Oh that guy’s up all night doing drugs'—these guys are working! This video isn’t the freaking end-all, but it’s an example of how that process takes place, there’s a reward at the end. And suddenly this whole group feels like one, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Can you elaborate on how your new album was inspired by having your first child?
MA: I heard that my wife was pregnant and went to the dentist around the same time. I got a hit of Novocain, and it really hit me. I went into this state of panic as my mouth was going numb, and I literally grabbed a pad of paper and wrote the song “The Dentist” from top to bottom while I was in the chair. My dentist’s office looks out over the hills where I live, so I was looking out and thinking, "This is my future. This is my dale, where I’m going to raise my child. And I’m having a family and I’m still numb and I don’t know how I feel."
You cover Roy Harper’s “Forever” on the album. What made it fit with your original songs?
MA: I sang it at a friend’s wedding and it felt like it was my song. I don’t normally write love songs that are that direct, so I thought, I could borrow this—this could be the love song for my wife. But then I thought, that’s cheap, I better write my own too, so I wrote “My Warming World” for her.
If the album were to soundtrack a film, what would it be?
MA: The whole experience of having a kid is very science fiction so it might be a science fiction movie. I’ve always been a huge fan of comedic science fiction love stories, so maybe Woody Allen’s Sleeper, or a modern version of Zabriskie Point.
Check out our Facebook page to meet some of the students from San Diego’s High Tech High International who drew pictures for "Bubbles in Space" here.