Ben Cooper of Radical Face Struggles with Stasis in Video for “Doubt”
Though thematically simple, the vid for the new single off his upcoming album Therapy is the most technically and physically demanding video Cooper has ever done.
Ben Cooper’s latest EP as Radical Face is titled Therapy, in large part because speaking with a professional helped to get his career as a musician back on track. Over the eight years Cooper worked on his deeply personal three-part Family Tree series—including The Roots (2011), The Branches (2013), and The Leaves (2016)—the singer-songwriter grew increasingly drained, both creatively and emotionally. In Therapy’s lush compositions, though, Radical Face has managed to let go of his troubled past and focus on the present.
“Nothing lasts—not even problems,” Cooper sings on “Doubt,” the new track off the album. Cooper both directed and stars in the accompanying video, in which his face is seen in tight close-up; sometimes bruised, sometimes with a bandage wrapped around the forehead or scotch tape contorting his nose or phantom hands reaching into the frame to push and pull on his beard and cheeks. Changing and flashing lights, colors, and background patterns seem to transform his appearance even more.
“This is the most technically and physically demanding video I’ve ever done, as everything was done in-camera,” says Cooper of “Doubt.” “No post was added at all, not even basics like color-correction. The idea was to build an evolving portrait, fading between extreme lighting and background differences while singing. The only problem was, for this idea to work, I couldn’t move at all between takes. So we built a chair that could fix the back of my head in place, and I had to concentrate on not moving my shoulders or tilting my chin at all for about thirty to forty-five minutes at a time. If I moved, or coughed or sneezed, we had to start over. Really small movements were really noticeable when all the clips overlapped. Sitting that still with such concentration between takes is really difficult, mentally and physically. It’s like doing stop-motion, but with lighting, make-up and a live person.
“And thematically speaking, this was all a visual attempt to get across how, when dealing with depression, you often feel static, or numb, while the world around you seems chaotic. That even people trying to get your attention doesn’t really register, it all just feels pretty stuck in time.”
Therapy is out April 26 on Bear Machine Records. Watch the video for “Doubt” below.