Los Angeles-based rapper and Innovator Co. member ShonHayes speaks about how films, anime, Digimon and more influences his music.
So often, musicians and filmmakers are influenced by more than just the medium they work within. Everyday life and even architecture can influence a piece of music or a film. The connection between these art forms is more vast and intricate than it would appear. Since the advent of sound in film, one could argue that sound is the most vital component of a film; setting the tone and atmosphere for what appears on screen. Inversely, some of the most compelling pieces of music possess an inherently cinematic quality, even if the images only appear within the listener’s mind.
In THE CONNECTION, we’ll interview a series of musicians and filmmakers about each art form. We’ll find out how much the two have in common artistically. We’ll discover how each can influence the other. Furthermore, we’ll consicer how it may not make sense to construct barriers between the two.
First up, we have the uniquely eccentric and highly creative LA-based artist shonHayes. Hayes’ spaced-out hip-hop and sly, intricate lyrics are matched in creativity by his ambitious music videos. It seemed fitting to interview him about film considering his video for “Illuminate” is a hyper-collage of pop culture images ranging from anime to 90s cartoons. Hayes is also a component of Innovator Co., a collective of musicians, fine artists, videographers, writers and engineers. His flow is a mix of stream-of-conscious observations of his own mind and auto-biographical accounts of growing up in Flint, MI. Read below to examine an aspect of Hayes’ creative process and how the art of filmmaking may or may not influence his music.
1AM: Was there a specific instance in film that has directly impacted a piece of your music?
shonHayes: Nah not a direct instance, but I always thought that a great album plays like a great movie – how every scene is important and the pacing and high points and what not. I wanted to definitely step up my albums to be at that quality, where its not a bore to sit through.
1AM: Critics have used the term “manipulation” when speaking about how music functions in film. For example, infrasound in horror films is inaudible, but has been proven to induce anxiety. Is popular music a form of manipulation as well?
ShonHayes: That term sounds weird but I definitely think that’s a good way to state it. Music for sure influences the listeners to some extent. Some people take some stuff too deeply like you can do with any other form of art. Popular music always set the tone every year and and you gotta have some control for that I suppose.
1AM: Disregarding the fact that this is the most cliche question I could ask, what are some of your favorite films and or directors?
ShonHayes: Man my top films are City of God, Stranger Than Fiction., Akira is a classic. The first Digimon movie was super lit. Silence of The Lambs,Adventure Land is my jam, and I really really f**k with the latest Evil Dead joint.
1AM: How often do you go see movies in a theater, if at all?
ShonHayes: Not that often honestly, but I wish I did more. For sure I enjoy movies more at the theatre but I do hate going out to see a trash film. I would hate if I made a movie and no one saw it in the theatre but it blew up on Netflix of something. I do consider the theatre the proper way to enjoy a film.
1AM: Favorite film soundtrack?
ShonHayes: That last Tron film had pretty ill original music from Daft Punk, which was sick. Other than that, I thought the TV series Samurai Champloo has the best music for anything visual of all time, Cowboy Bebop too.
1AM: How do you approach music videos? Are they art/short films/marketing material? Are your videos more inspired by mainstream cinema or experimental videos or the work of your peers?
ShonHayes: Not all videos are art, but the really good ones are. I think videos for indie artists are necessary either way. Its a whole other way to reach people.
1AM: In both mediums, critics seem to like to draw lines between “art” and “entertainment.” Do you think those distinctions are different in music and in film?
ShonHayes: Yea for sure but I guess it comes down to what’s “art” to you. I feel like most action movies are entertaining to watch just because it has so much going on. There is definitely music out there that’s similar to that. Its kinda crazy realizing how similar the two mediums are.
1AM: If you could provide the score for any movie (already made or unmade) what would it be?
ShonHayes: A short film would be really cool if it was something I could relate to, I honestly never thought about it though. I gotta get my quality up to standards first lol.
1AM: Do you conjure up scenes in your mind when you write and/or play?
ShonHayes: Ya, I feel a lot of creators do this to help summarize their thoughts, but most of the time it’s so grand that trying to go out and film that idea wouldn’t be realistic. Most of the time it starts with what images does this sound make you think of and then trying to find a way to make that doable.
Innovator Co. shoutout: K. Rudd recently released his new EP, “Enjoying Nature,” which you can stream free below.