Aphex Twin’s videos are immortal—once you see them, you’ll never forget them. His story became
Aphex answered: “Yeah, I experimented for a while but it was long time ago and not for music—it only makes it difficult because you need to concentrate for music.” It was during one of those nights in a club that Aphex met Chris Cunningham. They were both extremely surprised how similar they looked: tall, thin and
long-haired.(And who wasn’t thin when he was young or long-hairedin the 90s?)
When the Warp label decided to release not only
“That’s not the primary reason but it had a big bearing on it. When Richard did this track that sounded summery and sunny, I thought, Fuck. We should do it in LA in that style.
Windowlicker was me trying to make a more commercial video for Aphex. The last half of the video sounded really pornographic. It made me think about girls’s arses. So I thought okay, that’s definitely how the video’s got to end and the first half of the video sounded like driving round in the sun.”
The sun was reproduced by using many lens flares (they weren’t mainstream yet) as well as by chasing
Since Aphex’s face had appeared on the covers of his releases, the excitement around this icon with insane eyes started growing even more. On one hand, it was a face that could be used to scare little children and pregnant wives; on the other hand, a melancholic picture of someone from the southern hills. He looked either like a programmer or a serial killer. Or there is another word—windowlicker. In school slang, this is someone who sits near the window in a school bus in confusion or acts inappropriately. In the slang of pupils in UK it means moron.
Journalists were wondering: why does he need these grimaces? Aphex shrugged his shoulders, “When you see people in magazines, you can tell they’re thinking, OK, I know I’m not really
good-looking,but they’re going to make me good-lookingin this photo. So making myself look ugly is just the opposite of that. It’s just a reaction to that fantasy world that celebrities seem to live in.”
At first, it was living under the laws of showbusiness, and then Aphex got a bit carried away, as he says. Richard’s masks served him well and became a cult as well as their progenitor. Some people don’t believe that they didn’t use computers back then. “This is silicone,” explains Richard “They cast my face, but it didn’t look anything like me—it looked like I was taking a dump. So they had to sculpt it from photos instead. Quite well done, except they didn’t give me any eyebrows. And they’re not my teeth. All the masks are different. The black ones are really lush.”
This is a great compliment for a very
“At first I was a bit hesistant to go back to using
the head-swapidea,” confesses Chris Cunningham. “But it seemed so different in tone to Come to Daddy, that I thought it would be worth doing an LA sequel. By this point I was consciously trying to make each video completely different to the last. There were three more options left, I could either put his head on a woman’s body and change his sex, put his head on an animal’s body, or put it on an old person’s body. The track sounded so sexual and feminine, I thought I’d go for the sex angle. That’s another video that I really wanted to be like a cartoon. I didn’t want the dialogue to be too realistic or anything. I just wanted it to be really over the top.”
As noticed by one DJ, these two talk for so long at the beginning of the video that you wouldn’t think of just chatting or swearing but rather of some serious speech. In fact, it’s possible to count with your fingers how many times they said clean words but you don’t have enough fingers to calculate how many times they used fuck (44) and nigga (54). The clean version starts with
They don’t even think that the infernal Come to Daddy where Aphex screams “I want your soul” with his diabolic voice (by the way, the track was created after fan mail with these words) is scary.
“The only truly scary thing about the video is the reaction to it,” says The Guardian that interviewed a concerned citizen who promised to deal with it. “Like the fools in Windowlicker who spend too much time talking, we live in a culture of oversignification, where anything becomes a sign of something else, of something we already know. And the consequence is that we don’t recognise and miss the excitement of the truly new.”
Those who thought that Cunningham dishonoured street values were equally wrong. “I still don’t think it looks like a hip hop video,” retorts the director. “I tried but I fucked it up. I knew if I used