VANDANA JAIN / “MEN WITH STICKS”
Q&A WITH VANDANA JAIN & DIRECTOR BON DUKE
story + interview by / LOGAN BRENDT
Brooklyn-based Vandana Jain is a graphic designer turned performance artist who just released the music video for her intoxicating song “Men With Sticks”. Directed by her good friend, fashion photographer Bon Duke, the video is beautifully strange with the gorgeous Jain at the center of a few ghillie suits (a type of camouflage designed to resemble heavy foliage) which turns out to be surprisingly stylish. Watch the video and then read our Q&A with both Vandana Jain and Bon Duke where they talk a little bit about the creative process behind it all.
How did you arrive at the concept for Vandana Jain’s “Men With Sticks”?
Bon Duke: When hearing the track, I saw a surreal setting of repetition and circles. In relation to the lyrics, I wanted a visual trance. The ghillie suits were something I have been wanting to use. In this case I felt it was perfect to pitch to Vandana and push the video even further. I was nervous to show her this at first, but she loved the idea and even found the perfect ghillie suits for it!
Vandana, since you are a visual artist yourself, how much input did you have in the video for “Men With Sticks”?
Vandana Jain: I edited the video along with Bon, something I really enjoy doing and handmade the blue vinyl dress which was surprisingly not sticky. It’s rare to come upon a truly inspired concept on a non-existent budget that you fall in love with instantly and Bon had just that for me, so I took a back seat on the rest. We went back and forth on sharing inspiration and his question to me was, “Men in business suits or ghillie suits?”, and the answer of course was a no brainer.
Bon, did you find that there was a different creative process when working with Vandana, a friend, as opposed to other projects that you have directed? Were you more critical of the final product because of this?
BD: It was definitely more free in creativity on both ends. We worked so hard together to get this done to make sure each element was there to accomplish this video. From storyboarding to the final edit we kept going back and forth. I think we were both careful and oversaw each step to make it the way we wanted it.
Between photography and directing a video, how does the energy of the two differ for you?
BD: Photography will always be by my side as a study of a character, person, shape and form. For me, my vision is the same but I believe there’s a different energy when I take photographs. With video, I have so many options to express what I want and tell a story, whether it be in thirty seconds or one minute. It’s a new challenge for me and something I am constantly exploring and learning about. I think it’s so exciting that there are no rules on where your video lives or how it’s presented. It is also exciting to see the changes and evolving fashion films coming out.
Vandana, what have been some of your favorite music videos or visual artists over the years?
VJ: Some of my all time favorite videos have been “Push the Tempo” by Fatboy Slim, “Days Go By” by Dirty Vegas, “Kelly Watch the Stars” by Air, “Big Time Sensuality” by Bjork, “Disco Science” by Mirwais, and “Lotus Flower” by Radiohead. Some visual artists I really love are Tim Burton, Banksy, Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry, Kaisik Wong, Nick Knight, Georges Méliès, David Lynch, Eugenio Recuenco, Quentin Jones, the designer Nick Cave, and Andrei Tarkovsky.
Considering your Vandamner EP is currently out, when do you plan on releasing an album?
VJ: I am releasing a single from my first full length in February and the next one in March, followed by the album release just in time for spring.