THE EVOLUTION OF WOODKID
28-year-old film director Yoann Lemoine is traveling down a new road under the name Woodkid. Over the past three years, Lemoine has directed videos for the likes of Moby, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Yelle. After releasing many award-winning videos, such as his animation work for “Aides Graffiti,” he released his first EP this past March. The epic feeling in the video “Iron,” which he directed himself, states the artist’s new identity as a musician, both lyrical and raw. A cutting-edge piece of work, the track is full of dark romanticism and warrior imagery, insuring that his first performance as Woodkid is both musically and visually striking.
Calling Lemoine an overachiever would be an understatement. This multi-talented Frenchman is a modern day visionary. Whether he’s experimenting with new medias (photography, film, illustration, holograms and even knitting) to channel his creativity, or break- ing into new fields such as music, the man is everywhere. He is a leader of a generation of artists involved in every step of their creative endeavors and we can only hope for more of his talent on the horizon.
Lemoine sat down with us for a little Q&A about everything from messy careers to WILD Wishes.
Music is part of your everyday life as a video director. Was it a natural step for you to work on your own album after collaborations with such an eclectic range of artists?
Yes, I’ve always done music so it’s not a surprise. It just takes more time now that my music is starting to find an audience. It was not that much of a ‘coming out’ to me, people close to me always knew I had this project in mind.
What do you get from music that you can’t express through other medias?
Well, music [laughs]. Sounds stupid but the audio dimension brings so much to a film. When you write music videos for other artists, no matter how brilliant you are, 50 percent of your film is already done; the direction is already a given. I wanted to change that in my films and be my own composer. I didn’t have access to the music I really wanted to work on as a video director. So I decided to make my own music instead of waiting for the time to come.
Does the name Woodkid have a certain significance to you and did you feel it was important to start under a new alias, separating your two worlds?
It’s a mix of themes I like, wood, folk, emotion, and youth, of course. I wanted to make a difference between directing and music. Yes, it’s important that I keep a little frontier between them.
Your first EP feels very tribal and raw, but ideas of melancholy and nostalgia exist in your video. Is this project within the scope of your previous work or does it represent a new turn in your identity as an artist?
It’s definitely a new turn. I’m exploring more intimate and personal visions. I’ve never been able to do it before on commissioned projects.
How would you describe your musical style?
I would say it’s a very emotional and epic pop.
Your latest work, the short film “Lights,” was commissioned by Vogue Italia for A Shaded View Of Fashion Film and “Iron,” featured models Agyness Deyn and Matvey Lykov. Does fashion play an important role in your creative process?
Yes, I love clothing. I don’t like to say I love fashion because it’s not accurate; most of the fashion world is rubbish to me. But I love clothing, I love the art of making costumes and clothes, I love the movement of the fabric, how it modifies your body, your attitude, how you are perceived differently if you wear tight or baggy jeans…
By directing the video of your first release “Iron,” did you want to make a statement to the future generation of multifaceted artists like yourself, to stand on their own and be in control of every aspect of their projects?
It’s not about controlling everything or standing on your own, it’s more about expressing yourself in an exhaustive way, being complete in what you want to create. I have a lot of people working on Woodkid and bringing a lot to the project. I listen, and I use it if it’s going in the right direction.
There is a very present duality in your work. Do you feel that one side of your creativity could ever step over the other or would you rather keep things distinct and separate?
There are a lot of paradoxes in me like there are in everybody. I like impossible mixes, things and themes that are not supposed to live together.
Do you like the challenge of constantly starting anew in your creative and professional life?
Yes, it’s important. I don’t want to die thinking I only dug in one direction without having experienced more things as an artist.
Nostalgia is a recurrent theme in your work and you grew up with 8mm films. Do you long for the days when filmmaking was more intimate and void of modern theatrics?
I’m not nostalgic for medias or technologies. I love technology actually, and I love the very digital direction of “Iron.” I’m nostalgic in a more universal and metaphysic way. I’m nostalgic of childhood itself — the age of innocence.
How do you envision the next 10 years in terms of video making? Do you think we will eventually return to a more stripped down style?
I don’t know. One thing I see now is a big comeback of real crafted and entertaining videos, videos that involve work, craft and a sense of technical mystery, which make them beautiful and unreachable. People seem to be sick of homemade, cute and funny videos. They want real entertainment again.
As an image-maker, do you like to experiment with different visual styles? Is there one with which you feel most comfortable?
No, not really. I’m comfortable in any field that is emotional and that allows me to express my sensibility for craft and beautiful imagery.
In which domain was it most difficult to break through?
Film directing actually!
It is common, especially in France, for multitaskers to be seen with a negative eye. Did you feel pressure when working on your own album?
I don’t care about negative comments, I’ve always had a lot of them and I always will. France is definitely not the best country for developing my skills.
How would you describe your career evolution? What are your expectations for the future?
I really hope to do what I want to do with Woodkid, the sound and the image. My career is a mess. I’m always changing directions. I’m very curious but I’m very lucky that everything goes so fast.
You have worked with a wide range of medias. Do you feel like settling for one specific technique over time or want to keep exploring other possibilities?
Exploring, always. A technique is just here to express some- thing. Some techniques fit intentions more than others and my intentions are always changing.
Where do you position yourself in the art world?
I wish I could be at the border between the mainstream world and the very indie, avant-garde one. I like to create bridges.
What are your latest obsessions?
The universe I’m trying to create with Woodkid—I’m getting deeper and deeper into it.
Did you ever have a revealing, life-changing encounter?
Yes, a couple. Meeting my new producer, Mourad, is definitely changing a lot of things.
Who is a true visionary?
Somebody who is able to create something that seems to be new and never seen before.
Growing up, did you identify with a particular movement or style?
I come from a very mainstream background. I did not grow up asking myself that kind of question. I did not grow up watching classic indie movies.
Are visions or daydreaming part of your creative process?
They are everything! I rely on them.
What was the most decisive moment in your career?
For now, the release of the “Iron” video of course!
What are you working on at the moment?
A very big project in a brand new field of creation for me, and my album, of course.
What would be your ultimate challenge professionally?
Probably directing my first feature film.
And last but not least, what is your WILD Wish?