V.H.S. (Villainz, Heroes, and Suckas) shared insights into their new video and music in a comprehensive interview. Discussing “The Welcome Song,” they highlighted its expansiveness and potential political interpretation, emphasizing its role in welcoming listeners into a complex world and fostering discussions on identity, behavior, and occupation.
The use of state-of-the-art AI-generated imagery was said to enhance storytelling, despite challenges in filming. Celebrated personalities featured in the video were chosen creatively to align with the song’s lyrics. They also touched upon the influence of diverse musical backgrounds on their improvisation skills, talking about their collective artistic approach and collaborative spirit.
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Delving into their latest album, Love Letters From The End Of The World, V.H.S. revealed plans for more music videos and hinted at future projects that continue to push boundaries, with a focus on exploring themes related to fame and the journey of a hip-hop career.
Read the full interview below.
As topics such as identity and unity become increasingly prevalent, could you shed light on the inspiration behind “The Welcome Song” and discuss its relevance in contemporary society?
As I started writing “The Welcome Song,” I thought about the world and lore that this track was meant to welcome people into. It felt like a complicated unexplainable web that encompassed large swaths of time and space. Our song was never going to be just a typical one, it needed to be expansive, reaching out in every direction and no direction at the same time. Could it be interpreted as somehow political? Sure, why not? Art should generate discussion anyway.
In essence, this song is a list of nouns and adjectives that seem to describe people by identity, behavior, or occupation. It was downloaded from the same universe the album came from and that’s how it was born. It’s a list of humans and others even with negative connotations that are more than welcome to come over and gather in peace, at least we could have a discussion, and they can hear our story.
How did the state-of-the-art AI-generated imagery enhance the storytelling of the song, and what challenges did you face while blending these advanced visuals with the overall narrative?
The AI imagery in our music video shows the lyrics in a way that doesn’t require subtitles. It’s basically a fluid image that tries to capture an interpretation of the words I am saying at the time. It’s an awesome concept for a video like this because this song doesn’t have much of a narrative, it just lists out these words and the AI follows along.
It was challenging filming the video, because I had to keep my eyes wide open as best as I could to help the AI track my face more easily, and I couldn’t use my hands while rapping – which felt very awkward. AI has a problem with hands, at least for now, who knows where it will be in the near future. But the AI team did a great job and we’re really happy with the results.
The video shifts among recognizable faces, celebrated stars, and prominent individuals such as Elon Musk and Morgan Freeman. What guided your selection of these personalities?
Our team worked through the options with the AI wizards to select faces that played along with the words in clever ways. I didn’t know what the exact AI results would be and what the faces were until the video was finalized, so it was a surprise for me to see them as well! The team got pretty creative with it and some of the picks should make you chuckle if you connect the dots.
Can you share how the variety of influences in your background come together when you’re improvising and making music on the fly?
It’s good for musicians to get a basic knowledge of all the core instruments in addition to mastering their primary instrument. Rap is my primary instrument. Being exposed to all different kinds of music led me to learn all different kinds of instruments, including the scales and modes that allow one to jam and improvise. This in turn changed how I view rap, how a freestyle can compare to a solo in the jam. Having a variety of influences and trying a variety of mediums changes the way you look at your primary art, and always leads to improvement.
V.H.S. is renowned for prioritizing the collective above the individual in its artistic approach. Could you highlight a particular instance or project where this ethos profoundly shaped your creative process?
Throughout the course of recording the album, we had more than half a dozen players drop into the studio to collaborate on the tracks. One of the shining moments was when Suela Ray stopped by, heard what was to be “Habana Social” and in a matter of minutes wrote a part for herself, stepped into the booth and laid down her soaring vocal hook. It is one of those moments where you know you captured lightning in a bottle and the whole crew just ran with it to make it work. Speaking of “Habana Social,” you have to check the music video out – we filmed it at this awesome bar in Bali and it turned out really awesome.
Could you provide further insights into your latest album, Love Letters From The End Of The World. Are there any more music videos in the works for the tracks on this record?
‘Love Letters From The End Of The World’ is our first album and it is very much a concept album. It has an awesome story that goes in a lot of directions and allows us to write songs about epic situations, create unique characters, set them on adventures, and follow their conversations. It shows how expansive hip-hop can be as a genre. There are three more videos from that album on the way, one for “The Neverending Song,” one for “Slap Attack,” and one for “Digital Weed.” Our label, Darkstar Interlude has thrown a lot of support behind this album and we’re really grateful to be able to bring such a far-out storyline to life.
How does this release set the stage for the future of V.H.S., and can fans expect more thought-provoking and boundary-pushing content in your upcoming projects?
Hard at work on the second album now, it’s focusing more on our character Shabby and exploring the nature of seeking fame within modern society as well as telling an epic tale about the rise and fall of a hip-hop career, plus a few other hidden surprises! It’s gonna be a blast!
Watch the official music video below:
Listen to “The Welcome Song” here: