Words by Phil Witmer
Young Clancy Experiences Life Without Love in Japan for “Slo Mo”
“Each subway line [in Japan] has its own distinct jingle for each stop and they’re all sick. Still trying to find HQ download links.”
Japan inspires Toronto musicians in profound ways, which makes sense considering we’re all secretly nerds and also the fact that Toronto ‘burb Mississauga has a sister city, Kariya, in the country. In that way, Young Clancy is just part of a storied tradition, but he also went one step further and actually flew to the damn place. His resulting adventures are chronicled in the video for his pillowy new song “Slo Mo.”
Described by Clancy as being about the “euphoric, but also frightening” feeling of getting closer to a romantic partner, “Slo Mo” soundtracks footage of the artist canoeing down a river, being picturesque in front of cherry blossom trees, and singing karaoke in a kigurumi. He also hangs out in a bathtub wearing a periwinkle coloured wig, which you bet we asked him about. Find the answer to that question and others below. Watch the “Slo Mo” video above.
NOISEY: How does Japan inspire you as an artist?
Young Clancy: They really strive for perfection over there. Like something that struck me about the culture is how little waste there is—literally (like you won’t see any garbage on the streets or oddly, any garbage receptacles) but also in terms of space and time nothing is wasted. Everything has a purpose. That’s why their doors are all sliding instead of swinging- it’s more spatially economical. I feel like every day in Toronto I walk by some trash restaurant or bar or I look in the mirror and I’m like, “why do you exist? What’s the point of you? What do you contribute?”
In Japan, you can be walking down some smelly, dark alley and stumble into some unassuming restaurant with five seats and more often than not you’re gonna have a beautiful experience. Also, each different subway line has its own distinct jingle that sounds after each stop and they’re all sick. Still trying to find HQ download links.
Musicians sometimes say they can hear a musical score when they enter a new location. Was there a song playing in your mind when you entered the city?
I’ll say that “Drunk” the Thundercat album dropped while I was there. And it has that track “Tokyo” which really captures the city’s frenetic energy and the child-like wonderment you feel when you’re there – like you’re inside a video game. Coming back to Toronto after was so refreshing – like I used to think of Toronto as this booming metropolis but I know now that it’s actually a quaint hamlet.
Are the shots of you wearing the purple wig in the bathtub a reference to an anime or manga?
Not anything in particular. Ella (the director) had picked that up earlier in the trip in Harajuku or something as a souvenir. She had the idea to shoot me in a bathtub with a pink bath bomb. When we dumped it in it turned out to be a similar hue as the wig. I said, “where’s that damn wig.” And the rest is music video history.
What else did you do in Japan, other than sing karaoke?
Mostly ate food: ramen, sushi, curry, Tokyo is the most delicious place of all time. We went to Kyoto for a day, went out in Shibuya, walked around all over, saw the famous robot show, saw the MNDSGN show, played many claw games, checked out a few cat cafes and shot something similar to a music video.
Music can sometimes be region-specific so what about this track felt connected not just to Japan but Asian culture as a whole?
The setting was just a beautiful accident – like we had this trip to Japan planned months in advance. We had just about finished the track and we knew we wanted to do a video ASAP. Our friend, Ella Rowan, who we were meeting in Tokyo, is a great writer/director. So we decided to do it without giving any thought really to whether Japan would be the right place to shoot it. But also how could it not be? Tokyo is the vastest, visually stimulating place I’ve ever been. If you have a camera, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Phil Witmer is a writer who is based in Toronto, unfortunately. Follow him on Twitter.