Great Lake Swimmers Get Sketchy in “The Great Exhale” Video

One of the more delicate numbers on Great Lake Swimmers‘ latest album New Wild Everywhere is “The Great Exhale.” The song exudes a somber quality, built from an orchestra of violin, shimmering cymbals and frontman Tony Dekker’s morose baritone. “The song has layers of meaning,” he explains of the track. “But one of the basic themes would be the ability or inability to come to terms with one’s own mortality.” To capture the tone of the song for a video, the group worked with director Christopher Mills, who shot exteriors in different parts of Toronto and captured the band in front of a green screen so he could juxtapose them with illustrations and treatments that evoked the feeling behind the song.

“I found the song to be really haunting and beautiful, so the original concept for the video was based on a very loose idea of exploring empty, dissonant places, and to more of a visual essay that put ‘the music on the wind that passes through,’” Mills says. “The plan was to fill these spaces with these drawings, and ‘ghostly light and effects’ in ways that complimented the music.” He accomplished this with some help from French illustrator and producer Gaëlle Legrand and director-videographer Colin Medley, who found the graffiti-strewn walls that dance about in the video.

“The hardest part of making the videos was probably relentlessly working through the many processes, and layers of textures until the project, and the different elements felt ‘right’ to me,” Mills continues. “For me, it’s like looking at good paintings — we often like it when we see brush strokes, or signs of aging, or drips in our art. One look at the paintings that do well on the art market are evidence of this. So that’s often where I take my cues from, because who wouldn’t want to put a pretty or interesting, or challenging work of art on their TV, or screen, or wall while they’re listening to such great music?”

It’s no surprise then that Mills describes the video by likening it as such: “Layers of paper, grain, ink, and fuzz drop in and out of the work like a string section randomly dropped over a Portishead song by Christian Marclay.” See for yourself above.

New Wild Everywhere is out now via Nettwerk.

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