PLAY IT AGAIN: De Staat “Witch Doctor”

By: Sara Waber

One of the biggest compliments a great song can get is an amazing video. That seems to be the case with Dutch based indie-rock band De Staat’s latest video for the song “Witch Doctor” off their album I_CON. For every great single this band has released in the last five or so years, they’ve gone above and beyond to create stunning videos. With nearly half a million views in under a month,”Witch Doctor” is no exception.  We got to speak with front man Torre Florim about this insane video.

Play Too Much:  Ok, so first let’s start off with the track. Why did you choose this song to make a video for?

Torre Florim: It’s one of my favorites, and in my opinion very suitable for videos. I had a couple of ideas for a video, and when I met Studio Smack & Floris Kaayk, we had some cool ideas right away. “Witch Doctor” was one of their favorite tracks too, so that helps.

PTM: Totally makes sense. Where was this video filmed? Give us an idea of the day(s).

TF: My performance was shot in one day, in a cold industrial building somewhere in The Hague. That was the only thing actually filmed. The rest is animation.

PTM: That’s so cool! I was actually wondering how much of the video was real vs CGI. How did you come up with the video concept?

TF: I can’t exactly remember how it all came together, but it started with the idea of me being a witch doctor, a shaman, controlling the physical movements of a large crowd. In the Netherlands you had an important subculture called ‘gabber’: their dance music (Hardcore) is a big inspiration for the song. There were a lot of notorious Gabber parties (Thunderdome parties). So we thought, let’s start the idea with a weird kind of Gabber Party. The stereotype gabber has a shaved head, and has, when hot, no shirt on. If all the people kind of look the same, it’s scary right away. Imagine if they have the same movement, that’s just too scary. Some people think they’re skinheads, which is fine. I like the idea that it could be anything, no one knows. It’s just a creepy cult like thing.

PTM: That’s a really interesting point because the video is clearly quite disturbing, but for no reason more than it’s just a massive room full of people that look and act the same. Did you know right away what you wanted the movements and look to be?

TF: All of this in combination with the Balinese Monkey Chant (look it up), and a truly fantastic muslim Sufi circle dance, are the core ingredients for the video. The way I act in the video, is kind of the way I am on stage, but more extreme I guess.  For this video I was, amongst other things, inspired by Daniel Day Lewis in ‘There Will Be Blood’, and the way Leonardo DiCaprio speeches in ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’.

PTM: Wow, now that you say that it all makes sense. I think I feel a little less afraid watching it now [laughs]. What was the hardest part and most fun part to film?

TF: The hardest part for me personally, was to make the acting convincing. I had to make the lyrics work in a physical way, but also think about musical elements that I had to emphasize physically. Some of my movements would trigger the crowd in their movements. Most of them were thought out, so it was easy to mess up. Next to that I could easily fuck up the lyrics after a couple of takes. Since it’s just one take, no cuts in the performance, I had to get everything right. The hardest part for Studio Smack and Floris Kaayk was probably making it seem real enough. The crowd never seems real as in realistic, but that’s also kind of cool I think. Creepy. Getting my performance to sit in with the digital environment though: getting the lighting right is hard. The most fun part was definitely making the concept, we could bounce ideas of each other, and every meeting we all had new ideas, which made it into what it is right now.

PTM: Well seriously bravo! You guys nailed it. Who do you want to shout out for helping make this video possible?

TF: A big shout out to the ‘TAX-videoclipfonds’, they helped us funding the video. Without them this wouldn’t have been made.

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For more De Staat videos click here.

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