King Krule We got into music because of our dad. He wanted someone to jam with a lot of the time
Like many of his tracks, King Krule’s Logos allows intimate access into a highly idiosyncratic world. The artist, real name Archy Marshall, traps us in the song’s poetry with his dense lyrics and tight, repetitive backing track.
In this series, King Krule sits down with three of his closest collaborators to discuss how they turn his music videos into visual masterpieces. See the whole series here.
It's one of the stand-out tracks from Archy’s Mercury-nominated album The OOZ. Released in 2017, it takes you to a sprawling mini-universe offering up fresh joys on each listen.
The new video for Logos is a handdrawn animation – and a real labor of love – by Archy’s brother Jack, a visual artist and musician based in south east London.
Archy’s music houses a dense web of allusion and influence, from Franz Kafka to Arto Lindsay
The song charts a halting, wistful journey through a hostile landscape, with Jack’s shifting cast of characters navigating their way across an unforgiving desert. The one-eyed extraterrestrial figure, crocodile and lunar bodies recall the visual language of earlier pieces Jack has made for Archy, like the artwork for his debut album, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon.
The two discuss their upbringing, early influences and collaborations with Francisco Garcia.
Jack: The moon is the motif you’ve weaved into your music. It's a crescent moon sitting in the sky.
Archy: There's also a lot of landscape in the song, and the video has got that desert. There’s something anonymous there. It's got an elevator soundtrack quality.
Jack: The poetry of it all simplifies things, so that all the elements almost seem the same size. When I'm listening to the music, I start to see the city as a zipper, all of these up and down squares, and then the moon is a face set against it. And you're as big as everything else. That's what the video does; it's all about things changing perspective. It works well with stop-motion animation.
Archy: Logos comes from 2016. I think it was the first song on The OOZ where I knew what the record was going to be like. I was in a weird place after A New Place 2 Drown
Jack: Yeah, Friday Night, Saturday Morning.
Archy: That was the main influence for that. One tone to the voice, one tone to the track. The beat was from an interesting pedal, but it sounds like it could have been from a Casio keyboard. The song was quite a big stepping stone in the making of that record. It gave it this dynamic I’d been waiting for.
Jack: Is it different writing in terms of keyboards and guitar?
Archy: For me, yeah, because my knowledge is completely different on both instruments. With the keyboard, because I'm such a novice at playing, it was more exciting.
Jack: I don't know how to do any other animation. I didn't want to hand over pieces of drawings to somebody to do on a computer. It seemed like the natural way to do things. I'd seen an animation by George Dunning called Moonrock. I set that to Logos. There's so much texture to it.
Archy: When I first saw snippets of the video, it was striking in the way it was made. The texture of the paper and the way the characters were moving was exciting. I hadn't seen anything like that.
Jack: It’s like you were saying about playing different instruments and almost playing them wrong. It’s the same with learning the mechanics of animation. The single image is the brick. Then, you start building a wall, seeing where it takes you, where it would take the process. If you draw the same thing 100 times, gradually it changes. It's an organic distortion from your hand. It's a very, very long process of drawing the same things over and over and over and over.
Archy: It oozed style.
Jack: That's always the goal, to do something different.
The goal is always to do something different.
The brothers come from what can be loosely described as a creative background, with both parents providing artistic stimulus from their earliest years. There were always plenty of potential influences from their mother, a costume designer, and their father, who encouraged them to play the guitar.
Although they made things together growing up, they first collaborated as adults on 2011's King Krule EP.
Archy: We'd draw loads. Battle scenes and stuff like that.
Jack: Then the music came a bit later. We got into music because our dad was trying to get us to get into it.
Archy: He just wanted someone to jam with a lot of the time.
Jack: Dad would teach us songs, so that we would all play them together and learn the basics. Then your music developed from that point. I'm not saying it came from that; I'm just saying you developed quite quickly after that, musically.
Archy: When I was young, there was always this thing of creating a band and creating an image for the band at the same time. I remember one of the first records I got was Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz. I loved that. Like, there's a cartoon band and I was really sold on the images of all the characters and the dynamic between them, and their music was super weird.
I remember getting it from Woolworths. I remember the aisle itself and everything. They had a one-minute version of the video on there and a storyboard version in black and white.
Jack: Pinky and Perky, as well.
Archy: Yeah, yeah, we had a Pinky and Perky Happy Birthday cassette. I remember listening to that a lot. Then we started getting into the tribal aspect of music, like buying chains for our trousers.
Jack: I remember it well.
Archy: Like dressing the part, you know what I mean?
Jack: Our angle was always different, because we were going through the skate shop catalogues, saying, I want this and this. Mum said, let's just make it instead. People at school would be like, you made that yourself, you tramp!
Archy: I made my own Spitfire t-shirt. Do you remember that t-shirt you made with bullet holes and blood coming out?
Jack: Oh, yeah. That was serious.
Archy: I remember that whole idea of the product. When I got my first record it only seemed right for you to do the artwork.
Jack: I was always doodling and you had a really good idea of what you wanted visually, so I did that first single. That's where the collaboration started.
Archy: It became a rule as well. I do the music, you do the artwork. There was a simplicity in there that protects you from anything else.
London in the 2000s was brimming with creative energy. Cult artists like Archy’s longtime friend Jerkcurb emerged, as well as many others who went against the mainstream grain. Jack too was in a band called Words Backwards...
Archy: That band was heavily influential to me. It made my music mature because you were older, you were playing really interesting structures and making way more interesting music than I thought I was.
Jack: Our singer, Jacob, was in my year at school, but you guys got to know each other. He lived literally around the corner from our mum’s house and we started to hang out together and make music. Kind of jokey, unserious music.
Archy: That was a good time actually.
Jack: Because we were all free a lot of the time.
Archy: I had the weirdest set-up ever. You lot would come around and record on a 4-track and then I'd take the files and put them into Fruity Loops. But I couldn't record into Fruity Loops, so we'd have to record on the 4-track
Jack: We've gone full circle back to that in some ways, because I'm playing with those guys again in Horsey and one of the songs we're about to release is a song we wrote back in 2010.
You passed things down to me a lot. That would define what I was doing and what I was interested in.
Jack: We had our own little scene going on, 40 or 50 mates that would come down to most of our shows. There was no emphasis on what it was, nobody was thinking about a label for it. There was none of that "south east London" tag. Everyone was just doing their own thing.
Archy: Yeah, for sure.
Jack: There was a night called Steeze, which was run by a guy called Luke Newman. You played it, I played it with different bands, and we used to paint there. You've still got that painting actually. That was cool.
Archy: You passed things down to me a lot. That would define what I was doing and what I was interested in. You’d set me off on a trail and then I'd find different bands. Art wise there were loads of people, like Lucian Freud, how dramatic all of the dark tones in his work were. You got really into that.
Jack: I was really into painting. I loved the idea of portraiture and the drawn-out process of slowly making something.
Archy: That's where Out Getting Ribs gets its style.
Jack: It runs against a lot of what we were into at that time, which was a lot of punky stuff and a lot of No Wave
Archy: Yeah. A lot of post-punk, which is probably the most important era for all of us.So many of those bands giving you ideas about where to go and what to read. Like Josef K, referencing straight from a Kafka novel.
Jack: It was like wow, look at these people, how they would live what they preached.
Archy: We realized we were becoming men at the same time. It was like you draw, I play music, he does this, she does that. All of the people around us were doing quite creative things.
Jack: Everything seemed kind of shit, so you'd do your own thing and get on with it.
Archy: The guitar bands in 2009 were trash. It was barely any kind of music.
Jack: I wasn't really into indie.
Archy: I think, and this isn't in a big-headed way, back then I had more drive for this idea of success.
Jack: It comes down to work ethic I think.
Archy: Yeah, but it's also being in love with what you're doing. I had loads of pressure, in terms of money, because we didn't have any. It was starting to get to a point where it's like, oh shit, well I'm going to leave this school and have nothing to do, so this better work.
For the second EP, 2015's A New Place 2 Drown, things got a bit more serious. Alongside the record, the brothers released a book and a short film with their poetry and artwork. For both Jack and Archy, it was a testing experience, as they battled to translate their creative work into a product that would appeal to a wider audience.
Archy: That process is one I find hard to talk about. Sometimes you lose freedom, because you’re essentially an employee. It can get a bit cobwebbed in the brain. A bit congested. You start to not really see the point of what you're doing in the first place. Which happens to everyone I guess, but for us I feel like it can happen quite quickly.
Jack: Does it take away the original motivation?
Archy: I don't know. [The book] took quite a long time to make and the record took longer.
Jack: Yeah, I think the book took long to make because somebody else said, I want you to make a book.
Archy: I got no fault in it. I can't look back at anything that I've done – or we've done – and have an annoyance about it. I think you can say, I wish I'd done this, and I wish I'd done that. But I think some things just have to exist.
Jack: I did that at the time. I think something mum has always said is, just get it done and then move on to your next thing.
King Krule & friends
Archy Marshall, aka King Krule, talks to some of his closest collaborators about turning his music into visual masterpieces