Hip-hop-and-then-some artist Astronautalis, a.k.a. Andy Bothwell, was born in Jacksonville, Fla., but has also lived in Dallas, Seattle and Minneapolis. Should we really be surprised>"/>
Hip-hop-and-then-some artist Astronautalis, a.k.a. Andy Bothwell, was born in Jacksonville, Fla., but has also lived in Dallas, Seattle and Minneapolis. Should we really be surprised that he travels so much in the video for "Contrails?" We caught up with Bothwell and found out all there is to know about "Contrails," the second single off his fourth studio album, This Is Our Science, before he plays the Vera Project on Saturday.
The Video: When Bothwell says the video was filmed around Vancouver, he means around Vancouver. By his estimate, he walked anywhere from 12 to 15 miles that day--from Gastown in the east to a beach suburb in the west. Bothwell was rightly exhausted at the end of the day but with only one day to shoot the video, there wasn't another option.
Though "Contrails" features lyrics like "She always made the best of deaf and blind/Fashionable dress of canes and signs," and "I know her cane is just a comedy/Tin cup's a crutch for crippled honesty," the lyrics did not inspire the video treatment, Bothwell's father did.
While working as a garbage man in Ocean City, Md. one summer, the older Bothwell encountered a blind beggar every day near the end of his route. On a day the garbage crew was running late, Bothwell's father claims that as they drove away from the beggar, he saw a Mercedes-Benz pull up to the blind man. As the female driver moved over to the passenger's seat, the blind man got into the driver's seat and the pair drove off.
"I thought that was such a great story and just sort of apropos with some of the imagery in the [song] that it was a good idea to make it into a video," Bothwell explains.
Like the man in the story, Bothwell is not actually blind and had to practice walking with a cane before the video shoot. He says that while there weren't any major disasters, he did clip things with his hips from time to time.
The video shoot resembled Bothwell's father's story even more as passersby began to put money in Bothwell's red tin cup.
"There are very few people in that video that had any sort of knowledge of what was going on," Bothwell says. "As I got better at it, once I got sweatier and more sunburnt and ... once you got into tourist areas of Vancouver, you could kind of pull wool over anybody's eyes."
Ask and You Shall Receive: Tegan Quin's, of Tegan & Sara, work on "Contrails" would not have happened had Bothwell not gotten a bit of liquid courage in him one night. He had done a lot of touring with the duo and had been a big fan of theirs but was too shy to ask them to work on music together.
Bothwell eventually sent the Quins an email and received a favorable response. Tegan and Sara were both originally going to appear on the song but a conflict prevented Sara from making it to the studio in time.
"She's the best sport ever," Bothwell says about working with Tegan on the "Contrails" video. "She's really hilarious and dry so it was a blast. The video shoot is very loose ... so essentially, it was just like hanging out with my friend and there just happened to be this camera and we're just singing along to one of our songs."
Since the video shoot was so loose though, they didn't have a proper car mount for the camera and had a few issues getting shots of Tegan driving.
"[The cameraman] didn't really have a way to monitor it so he sort of shot it, then looked back at it and you're like 'Oh, wow, that just shot your crotch,'" Bothwell says with a laugh. "And that was after walking for 12 hours so I'm sort of at my wits end and having technical difficulties, but all in all, I'm cool with the results. If it looks good, one day of walking and sunburn is totally worth it."
Bothwell also justifies the achy feet and sunburn by noting how little of a city he usually gets to see while on tour and saying that because of the video shoot, he now has a firm grasp on Vancouver.
"I got to see pretty much every square inch of that damn city and now I know the layout really well in my mind and the geography of everything and I feel like I could pretty much find my way to and from almost anywhere in Vancouver given a couple of landmarks," he says.
Visual Impact: When it comes to standout music videos, Bothwell believes that, no matter the content, they must be memorable and have some sort of impact on the viewer. He cites the videos for LCD Soundsystem's "Drunk Girls" and D'Angelo's "Untitled," as prime examples- the former for having no plot and being shot in one take, the latter for featuring a handsome, seemingly naked man singing to a camera.
Bothwell also mentions the video for his favorite Badly Drawn Boy song, "Once Around The Block." He says "adorable" several times and mentions that it's a good song to put on a mix tape for someone.
"Once Around The Block" is about a teenage couple in Mexico whose braces became locked together during their first kiss. In an indirect way, the video acted as inspiration for the "Contrails" video.
"It's a true story and it was sort of like an inspiration for this video as well, not in content-wise, they just told a true story and told it in a really nice way and it was really simple," Bothwell says. "I mean, there's a bunch of really good music videos that are made all the time but I think that's a really amazing video that really isn't given as much credit as it deserves."
In regards to "Contrails," Bothwell says that overall, people have reacted quite positively, mentioning a string of YouTube comments from girls who can't get over how gorgeous Tegan looks in the video.
"I'm stoked on it considering all the limitations we were faced with- financial and time-wise," he says. "I think we made a really cool thing and I'm really proud of it."