Psycho Comedy explore themes of isolation in new video - The Mind Map
By Jonathan Turton

Psycho Comedy explore themes of isolation in new video

The video was created by revered New York ad agency Hugo and Dean.

Published 27/07/2021
In a year characterised by lockdowns and isolation, at times each of us have felt like the main character in our own dystopian movie.

Psycho Comedy’s new avant-garde music video for ‘I Am The Silver Screen’, directed by esteemed New York-based creative agency Hugo and Dean, explores such ideas.

The premise is simple: two artists, Psycho Comedy’s lead singer Shaun Powell in Liverpool, and actress Bianca Berényi in Budapest, meet for the first time on a zoom call (where else?), where they are encouraged to interact in any way they see fit.

“We wanted to make something experimental” says co-director Dean Woodhouse. “They (Psycho Comedy) love the factory New York scene and so do we. Andy Warhol’s home movies were raw, salacious, and sometimes just shit. We thought we’d try an experiment.”

“We’ve probably spent more time at home (during the pandemic), in the garden, with neighbours, on walks, than ever before or ever again. Screens aren’t going away, our addiction has grown, but it’ll never beat a physical experience.”

Although written before Covid-19s emergence, the lyrics on Psycho Comedy’s debut album ‘Performance Space Number One’ have an added, eerie pertinence a year on from release. Mathew Smith’s searing spoken word cameos envisage “Dole Queue Uprisings” and “Night Sky’s Van Gogh wouldn’t look at”, which couldn’t be more relevant now, whilst Shaun Powell’s warped vocals seem to capture our collective, fractured mental state.

“The record came out just as Covid hit. I’d like to think it was the soundtrack to people’s lockdown” says Psycho Comedy’s lead singer Shaun Powell.
“Silver Screen comes from a dream-like state of mind with optimism and no boundaries. I think being isolated for a long amount of time is never good for anyone. In terms of the social commentary on this record… I think it’s vital.”

Originally, a video shoot was scheduled for Psycho Comedy with Hugo and Dean in Ukraine, until Covid intervened. For this incarnation, filmmaker Jonathan turton filmed Shaun in the UK, whilst Csaba Vago undertook DP duties in Hungary.

Covid 19 has affected each of us in various ways, from the condition of our mental health to professional aspirations. Psycho Comedy can feel particularly aggrieved by the timing of the pandemic, however, with their first UK tour postponed twice as a result of national lockdowns.

“If it wasn’t for lockdowns, you’d be looking at one of the biggest British bands right now” believes Woodhouse, who pulled the strings for this shoot remotely from Manhattan. ”We’ve all had to be creative during these times and some interesting stuff has come out of it. Just look at what we did. Three different countries, shooting a music video over zoom. It just wouldn’t have happened like this otherwise.”

Hugo and Dean have worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, including Smirnoff, Planned Parenthood and Playstation, on some of their biggest campaigns. Why did they want to work with Psycho Comedy?

“Persuading brands to do something cool is hard” explains Woodhouse. “They might have the bread, but they don’t want to take many chances. Psycho Comedy, to me, are all about taking chances.”

“They live in a space of their own. They don’t give a fuck what you think. You either like ‘em or you don’t. But those that do, can’t get enough of ‘em. You just want to be in their orbit.”

The collaboration also represented a pivot for Psycho Comedy too, who describe themselves not as a band, but an art collective, and have maintained creative control of everything they’ve done thus far, from record sleeves to sound production.

“New projects have to be memorable” adds Shaun. “Their (Hugo and Dean’s) work is quality and contemporary. We’ve enjoyed linking up across the Atlantic to make art during the pandemic.”

With things threatening to get back to normal following the last lockdown, then not, what next for Psycho Comedy? For society? For our mental health?
“We all need to get back to where we left off” states Shaun, finally. “For us that’s making noise and art, and taking over the world.”

Scroll below to watch ‘I Am The Silver Screen’