As the song tells a story set in the past, a traditional, hand-drawn route was decided on, and the key was for it to feel timeless and simple but not kitsch. “Traditional animation makes up the foundation of my practice and it was nice to stay close to that for this video,” says Jacobs. “The storyboard was key. I wanted to be able to tell the narrative and get the key points across in stills. It gives it that storybook feel and also helped with the workload. It was also drawn up in quite a loose style which the band were keen on, they wanted it to feel almost like outsider art or like the frames had been taken from an ancient tapestry. Once the band were happy with that it was relatively straightforward working it up.” Jacobs is a musician himself so he understands the importance of Kero Kero Bonito wanting to get their vision across. “When I’m working for other people I very much see myself like a conduit for their vision and by far the most satisfying thing is knowing that the artist is happy with the outcome,” he says.
The Princess and the Clock is London-based band Kero Kero Bonito’s new single and animator and director Dan W Jacobs has created a charming video for its release. “I’ve been working with KKB’s management, Verdigris MGMT, on a few animation projects for their roster over the years,” says Jacobs. “They were looking for something with a handmade and traditional feel which was in line with some other things I was working on at the time so it turned out to be a fit, and good timing!”
The Princess and the Clock is out today, alongside the announcement of the band’s forthcoming E Civilisation II EP, out 21 April, which is a sequel to their 2019 EP prequel, Civilisation I.
“When we first saw Dan W Jacobs’ work, we couldn’t quite believe that an animator with such a relevant style was right under our noses,” adds Kero Kero Bonito. “The story had already been written – it’s all in the song – so planning the video was simply a case of outlining our vision and letting Dan work from the ‘script’.” “We’re really grateful to Dan,” the band adds. “We couldn’t have dreamed that Kero Kero Bonito’s first animated video would be this good, and it ranks amongst our favourite projects to have worked on. We’re really proud that it’s representing our new single and we think it’ll stand the test of time too.”
Jacobs worked with a team of animators to create the video, but he was initially hesitant at delegating to other people. “I mostly work solo so I was apprehensive about bringing other people in for this as I’m a bit of a control freak,” he says. “But the team smashed it and I couldn’t have done it on my own. I learnt a lot from that.”
The Princess and the Clock is based on a myth of the band’s own creation, designed to emulate familiar fables and pulling from East Asian folklore. “The song’s imagery – towers, royalty, sailing, crowds – would have been hard to pull off convincingly in person even without Covid, so it’s appropriate that this ended up being our first animated video,” say the band.
Jacobs used a mix of hand-painted textures and Photoshop animation for the clip, and for some of the longer hand-painted arrangements, such as the cloud sequence, made a reference sequence in 3D first. “I work a lot in 3D and I’m finding that really enjoyable at the moment,” says the director. “Ultimately I like working in a way that leaves room for the imagination and a space for the viewer to fill – be it in a 3D land or just with a few brushstrokes.”