By Ines Plunger – Anglo American University
On Woodkid’s music video for the single “Goliath,” three green and white trucks jolt over dark brown sand, their passengers being shaken to the rhythm of the percussions. They wear breathing masks and yellow helmets. Bowed instruments set in, just as the main character from the video hops out of the truck and walks towards an enormous machine.
The lyrics: “Where are you going, boy?” A look up towards the sky, then the percussion takes over again and shakes the mining machine in its tact while devouring mountains of coal.
This is Woodkid’s video as part of his newest album “S16.” The featured coal mine is in the Czech Republic, and Woodkid will close the circle by coming to Prague for a concert. The French music and visual artist who has also won Grammys, will be performing his new album “S16” at Forum Karlín on November 26.
Woodkid is the musical experiment of Yoann Lemoine. He is a multi-talented book publisher, animator, advertiser, and music video director whose greatest success came after producing music videos for stars like Katy Perry (“Teenage Dream”), Taylor Swift (“Back to December”) or Lana Del Rey (“Born to Die”). The 38-year old Frenchman started his music career in 2011 with the E.P. “Iron,” which was so successful it was featured in trailers for the videogame “Assasin’s Creed: Relevations,” the film “Hitchcock” and the TV series “Teen Wolf.”
Woodkid’s music style is epic, and in his videos he brings high budget cinema to music through overwhelming visuals and breathtaking animations. The music video for “Goliath” ends with a monster arising from the black soil. A visual and symbolic representation of the toxicity our Western society creates and lives in, as the “Goliath” of our times each of us is trying to defeat is industrial exploitation of our lands and the climate change that comes with it.
While the animations in his music videos have a futuristic touch, Woodkid’s electro-acoustic songs sound astonishingly classical. He works with a small orchestra of bowed instruments, and wild, powerful percussion that adds an almost indigenous touch to his work. Uniquely, his music falls into a line with a wide range of artists like Paul Kalkbrenner, Ludovico Einaudi, Oscar and the Wolf, Nicolas Godin, and Destroyer and with major influences from Leonhard Cohen, John Cale, to Massive Attack.
If he uses the discrepancy between futurism and classicism in his music videos, he does this even more on stage, where he aims to excite much more than just one of the five senses. Flashing lights, animated monsters, 3D generated robots. Woodkid himself wears space-suits or transforms himself to Loki from the Hollywood Blockbuster “Thor.”
Woodkid’s new album builds on the success of his previous ones but in the seven years between his self-released debut album “The Golden Age” from 2013, and the newest one, his style has evolved. While his music is as expressive as it has ever been, his lyrics have become shorter, with more room for interpretations. “Goliath,” for instance, is also a song about love – but with the visuals projected one can interpret more into the lyrics.
Before recording “S16,” Lemoine visited some of the world’s largest and most intimidating places – nuclear power plants, oil platforms and coal mines. When he saw the Pyramids of Sulphur in Alberta, Canada, it was clear to him that his new album would be called “S16” – the periodic sign for Sulphur. It is both a symbol for the destruction of our planet and the life it gives at the same time, as Sulphur is used as a chemical fertilizer in agriculture.
This symbolism in Woodkid’s music and concerts urges people to think more about their way of life. The cover for the single “Goliath” shows him hugging the giant we are trying to fight. He has explained this in numerous interviews.
“It is about the importance of accepting that toxicity [and] inner weakness,” he has said.
And through accepting that inner weakness, our feeling of being overwhelmed, Lemoine expects us to rise, and to become heroes. “I want people to feel like heroes when they hear my music,” said Lemoine in an interview with RT back in 2012.
To make you feel like a hero at the show in Forum Karlín in Prague 3, Woodkid will bring together classical string musicians, drummers, and an LED screen with self-generated animations. Expect an epic show that will leave you with your heart pounding to the rhythm of Woodkid’s hard beats, and to finally give you a feeling of being able to cope with everything, despite everything.
Tickets for Woodkid at Forum Karlin are still available here