Gareth Thomas unveils the new video for his song ‘Weird Fever'.
'Weird Fever' is the fourth single to be released from Gareth Thomas’s sophomore album Fizzy Milk. A disco infused love song, it is inspired by Thomas's own meet-cute with girlfriend Amelia Murray (AKA Fazerdaze) when the two were both coming down with the flu. Proving that a little sickness never stopped true love, Murray also features on the track.
Employing a classic bit of Kiwi ingenuity, Thomas animated the video himself. Spending hours and hours teaching himself to animate 8-bit style, the results speak for themselves: the video is trippy, retro and super cute, with cameos from the Foursquare Man, Chris Knox and Murray herself.
To celebrate the release of Weird Fever, we shot Gareth a few quick questions to find out what the songs about, how he made it and how he feels about axolotls.
Weird Fever is about falling in love but also about getting sick - why do those two things go together so well?
Ha yes, they do go together well! In the Spike Jonze film "Her", falling in love was described as "a form of socially acceptable insanity". Then there are all the physical symptoms that manifest alongside the condition. The bumpy skin, the windy tummy, the lump in the throat, the shakes - we love it. Weird fever talks about that stuff.
How would you describe the sound here? I'm hearing a kind of chill, sassy disco, am I on the money?
You're right, there is a lot of disco squeezed in there. Though I'd call it "Minimal Glitch Pop".
The "Glitch Pop" side of it is about a writing/recording technique that I'm getting into where I actively encourage mistakes, pops and squeaks. Mistakes are almost always the most exciting parts.
The track is particularly Minimal because I wrote it as a completely vocal-beat-boxed performance. Because your voice-box is monophonic, you have to be very minimal and economic with the parts. If you try beatbox singing 'Weird Fever' you'll find that the vocals, guitar, bass guitar and claps all happen at different times on different beats. Each part has its own space. I found that this technique it helps the song naturally mix itself.
To make the video you taught yourself to animate 8-bit style – was that super hard? And why was it important to you to DIY it?
It was super tricky to make the animation, but I was dead-set-determined that I wanted to learn how to animate. It has been a childhood dream to make an animation ever since I saw "Watership Down". I bought a Photoshop licence and made all the animated gifs and scenes at home, then I went into Thievery Studio every Friday to compile the things I made. It took about four months. There were lots of late nights, doodling into the early hours with a one pixel paintbrush.
The video is like a fever dream video game, packed with Kiwiana, cameos and homages - is the Weird Fever world a window into your subconscious?
Yes very much a window into my subconscious - you can tell I grew up in '80s New Zealand. Creating stuff is a process of discovery, I unearthed a lot of stuff with this video. The Foursquare man, the sheep in full gridlock, my dad is in there on his mobility scooter, my childhood dreams of a flying spaceman. I got Chris Knox talking to "Sophie" because Chris was very supportive of my first band Goodshirt. The town is loosely based on Akaroa where our bach was, my girlfriend is in there making stuff on the computer - and yes my brother had pet axolotls, his pet axolotls always weirded me out!