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Elvis Perkins Releases Absurdist Animated Video for 'See Monkey'

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Watch the animated video below!

Elvis Perkins Releases Absurdist Animated Video for 'See Monkey'

Elvis Perkins has revealed an absurdist animated video video for "See Monkey," a track of his newest album, Creation Myths (MIR/Petaluma Records). He previously noted that the song is an "everything's gonna be alright sort of song, a 'we're all only returning to the source' sort of song, from the monkey that is me to the monkey that is you." The video was created, produced, and directed by Shwalami, a collaborative art-making system, created by artists and life long friends, Joshua Levy and Greg Wilk. It debuted via Brooklyn Vegan who notes, "The cut-and-paste style here recalls Terry Gilliam's iconic work with Monty Python, bringing the sort of eye-catching, old-fashioned ads you might see in the back of a comic book to vibrant life." Elvis tells them, "first thing that comes to mind regarding the 'See Monkey' video is, somehow, the leitmotif from Robocop 'I'd buy that for a dollar.' The good Shwalami people have updated the snake oil hock for the present day: 'All your eyes can eat for no dollars at all.'"

Watch the video below!

Creation Myths was produced by Sam Cohen (Kevin Morby, Guster, Benjamin Booker) and marks the first album Perkins has released since his soundtrack to the 2017's The Blackcoat's Daughter, a film directed by his brother, Osgood. The LP makes subtle nods to Americana and spooky, blissed-out folk, but never lights for too long on any one spot. If there is a lyrical or thematic through-line to Creation Myths, it might simply be a longing for connection, be it romantic or spiritual. He notes, "Sometimes you do the best things when you don't know what you're doing yet. I called this record Creation Myths because, in a way, I really don't know how these songs came into being. So they are the explanation of themselves."

Leading to the release of Creation Myths, Elvis has shared several critically acclaimed singles which have landed on NPR's "New Music Friday" playlists and several "best of the week" lists on release.

Creation myths are, by their very definition, unreliable. They are stories we pass down, particularly about ourselves, shaped by the passing of time and the general fallibility of our memories. The human tendency to mythologize-to remember things as better or worse than they actually were or, even more commonly, to remember them the way we wish they might have been-appears to be hard-wired into our very DNA. They satisfy the need to supply a narrative, to make sense of our own personal histories, or to simply connect the dots in looking back at the path that moved us from A to B to C to D. If you're lucky, maybe sorting your own personal mythology is easy. Maybe you kept a good journal. If you're a songwriter, perhaps you hung on those earliest attempts at expressing yourself through music. For musician Elvis Perkins, the songs assembled on Creation Myths manage, in their own way, to do both-showcase an artist working at the height of his powers fully in the present, but doing so with songs that date back to his earliest days as a performer.

"The long and short of it is, these songs were all written long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away," laughs Perkins, when asked about his new record. "In another dimension this 4th (and a ½) installment of songs is surely my first. But the only form most the material ever existed in was maybe as four-track experiments, but for some of them the only existing reference are some old live recordings from an open mic night I was doing in Santa Fe around the turn of the millennium. The songs just never got around to finding what I guess will be their more or less final shape until now."

Perkins, of course, has a long and storied career as a maker of songs, releasing several celebrated albums since his appearing with his debut, Ash Wednesday, in 2007. After recording what was ostensibly his fourth album-the soundtrack to the 2017's The Blackcoat's Daughter, a film directed by his brother, Osgood-Perkins was presented with a small window of time before diving back into the cycle of writing and recording of a new record. Working once again with longtime producer Sam Cohen, Perkins decided to finally record some of the songs that had been floating around in the ether for the better part of two decades. "I've carried them with me since their genesis, and I've always suspected that they would be documented at some point, but you never know when you're gonna have that window, when it will finally feel like the right time."

The nine tracks on Creation Myths represent a kind of parallel sonic universe to the songs that would eventually end up on Perkins' four studio albums, beaming forth from the same musical universe, but often stretching out in unexpected directions. Opening track, the expansive and beautiful "Sing Sing," is a sort of spectral missive for a future generation-a glimmering light beam aimed at "the future archeologist, the broken cardiologists, the anesthesiologist...in you." Elsewhere on the record, amid bar blues piano and the fleeting ghost of a pedal steel guitar, Perkins sings, "I know you know I know you...But does anyone ever really know another?" Throughout Myths the music makes subtle nods to Americana ("The Half Life" "See Monkey") and spooky, blissed-out folk ("Iris" "See Through") , but never lights for too long on any one spot. The wonderful cageyness of the songs, according to Perkins, was perhaps part of the reason they had previously never found a permanent home. "In the harmonic sense, these songs offer stranger, more complex chordal movement than other things I was writing," he explains. "Hearing these songs together now, I find that these forms are stranger and less easily defined or categorized than my other work, but together they make their own kind of sense."

It's easy to imagine that revisiting one's earliest work might present an equal number of thrills and horrors-an experience akin to reading old diary entries or suddenly being asked to step back into a frame of mind that may have only existed during your early 20's. For Perkins, the experience was both jarring but ultimately enlightening. "I hadn't been playing these songs live for decades, and yes, it was a challenge to inhabit them and make them feel fresh." he says. "Luckily there was never a time when anybody was rolling their eyes in the studio. There was maybe a naive quality to the songs, but they didn't feel immature or half-baked. I was lucky that the right sensibilities were there, and that I wasn't alone in feeling like these songs were worth the air they were going to take up in someone's room or car or house."

If there is a lyrical or thematic through-line to Creation Myths, it might simply be a longing for connection, be it romantic or spiritual. "My muse has gone away for the summer today," Perkins sings on "Mrs. & Mr. E" before asking, "Oh,why can't you be closer to me?" On the epic, swooning album closer "Anonymous" he sings to a love that takes on many metaphoric forms before asserting, "I know who you are, but who am I?" It's a question that feels both prescient and important, regardless of age.

"I wrote these songs when I was rather untested in love," he explains. "I don't know who the people are in these songs, for the most part. I'm not even sure if there are real people that I'm singing to or singing for or being inspired by. Even though I was inexperienced, I seem to be predicting the kind of person I would become. To me there's a certain youthful bravery in some of the lyrics. I look at them and think 'Where did I get off declaring these things in a song?' The answer is that I just didn't think about it. I wasn't self-conscious at all, and I had no real expectations for any of the music. I was just creating for the sake of creating. Sometimes you do the best things when you don't know what you're doing yet. I called this record Creation Myths because, in a way, I really don't know how these songs came into being. So they are the explanation of themselves Also, I don't think I have the brain or the soul capacity or even the patience to make these kinds of songs anymore. Still, it was satisfying to spend time with them, to consider each with its own autonomous creation myth, each coming from disparate corners of the globe or some now inaccessible and disparate corner of my brain."

Watch the video here:

Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz


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