In the opening moments of “Tell Me,” the award-winning video from electronic music duo HUMANS, a blonde puppet stands diligently working at his DJ turntables. He’s interrupted by a bearded intruder, who forces him to drink a smoothie that consists, among other things, of sliced-up squid tentacle and cigarette ash.
“This was the first single for our Noontide album,” said Peter Ricq, who performs with Nelson-raised musician Robbie Slade as HUMANS. They won best music video this week at the 2016 Leo Awards, which recognize excellence in BC film and television.
“The video was a sequel to our first-ever video, and basically there’s these puppets and it takes place about five years after the first one.”
In the original video a pair of puppet cops break up a house party, mercilessly beating Slade unconscious before getting up to sordid shenanigans. In the much more experimental follow-up, the drugged puppets trip out with their cat, hallucinating and levitating onscreen. They float against a pink-hued cosmos before re-emerging from the trance and returning to their work as policemen.
Though Slade was initially unsure about the idea of working with puppets, Ricq was intent on his vision. Since completion of the video he’s continued to search out design tweaks so he can improve their mobility, controlling everything to their eyes and their finger movements.
“We found this guy who used to work with Jim Henson to make them,” Ricq said. They plan to use them for short videos they’re aiming to release along with a drum machine app they’re collaborating on later this year.
“We’ve been branching out. Lately we’ve been designing a bunch of jackets with embroidered designs on them, and those have been selling very well too.”
And if it seems ultra-ambitious that Ricq has chosen to throw himself into puppeteering, design and mobile apps all while working as an award-winning musician and holding down a day job, that’s just his comfort zone.
“That’s just the way my brain works, I guess.”
The pair plan to continue releasing singles until they release a new album in early May 2017. They’re also planning to release two new 360-degree music videos using Oculus virtual reality technology in September.
The pair were nominated for a Juno earlier this year for Noontide. It was also recently announced that their video ”Water Water” has received a nomination for a MuchFact MMVA award alongside Drake, The Weeknd, and Young Empires. All of the videos are available on HUMANS’ YouTube channel.