Austin, Texas based directorJohn Valley is producing some of the best music videos in town. Valley’s music videos are a bite sized morsels made from his proprietary blend of visually stunning dark comedy. They also have a quality about them that is erotic, emotional, and surreal. You can see his talent in his earliest video for The Valley Forge, where a hundred quick cuts and constructive angles transform what could have been a basic video of a band jamming into a thrilling and theatrical experience. Now that he’s moved onto to bigger productions his wicked mind gets a chance to shine. He has worked with Whiskey Shivers, Sweet Spirit, the Blind Pets and many others.
It’s hard to only watch one of his videos – since watching my first during Austin Film Festival’s ‘Video Skate Night’ I have torn my way through at least six. Creating videos for local bands, however much it enriches the artistic community, is a very niche market. Luckily for John he has it cornered through crisp production, ballsy concepts, and kick ass music. An Iowa native, he moved to Austin in 2009 after finishing film school. He has since switched his focus from long form film-making to music videos. He was also a founding member of The Valley Forge, who played several South by Southwest shows before disbanding. A creative on all levels – he is involved with directing, music, acting and writing – but his main love are music videos.
‘Up All Night’
My top recommended video is Up All Night by the Blind Pets. This hilarious and gory adventure in Schadenfreude explores a fantasy that must be common to girls on 6th Street – gutting an Ed Hardy wearing bro whose idea of a good time is drowning in a pool of Jager shots. I promise this is the only video you’ll see of a topless blood soaked hottie armed with a knife and a bunny mask. This video is definitely NSFW and is a crowd pleaser – gather your friends around, crack a beer and let the laughter roll.
Perhaps his best known videos are Baby Doll and Baby When I Close My Eyes, both for Austin based band Sweet Spirit.
Baby Doll, which also showcases Valley’s acting chops, has a similar ambiance as Blue Velvet. It could be what’s going on behind closed doors when Frank Booth takes a trip to pussy heaven. A room full of beautiful bound and gagged women bob their head in time with the doo wop music as they are tormented by their drag queen captor, played by Valley. He channels equal parts Frank-N-Furter and Buffalo Bill in a blonde wig and fish nets, lip syncing along to smoky vocals from Sweet Spirit’s Sabrina Elliot. With a psychotic sense of humor, sensual elements mixed with light bondage, and a spurned villain who loses in the end, Baby Doll is just my kind of music video.
‘Baby When I Close My Eyes’
Baby When I Close My Eyes is the most emotional puppets will ever make me. It’s Burt and Ernie coming from a truly genuine place, and unlike many of Valley’s videos he does not play up the laughs. The video, set to a more indie rock track by Sweet Spirit, explores unwanted pregnancy, hate crime, and police brutality… with puppets. And Baby When I Close My Eyes has it’s own surreal elements – a menacing golden man hatches from a trash bag egg sack, dancing his way through the video’s violence. The video is a visual feast and the range of emotions displayed by the puppets is rather impressive.