You may not have heard the name Bulby York much, but you’re going to instantly vibe on his distinct style of production. The Jamaican beatmaker has just dropped his new album, Epic & Ting, which is a collection of island bangers and features some reggae and dancehall legends in Maxi Priest, Busy Signal, and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry to name a few, and he has now blessed us with an animated video to accompany one of his stand-out singles, ‘Moola’. Not only will the track have you fiending for warmer climates but Bulby has taken its visual accompaniment worldwide, tapping Melbourne artist Nicholas Keays to handle the graphics and animation for the project.
To describe Nicholas Keay’s work for the Fat Eye’s label artist, several adjectives immediately arise. We’re talking dynamic, trippy and utterly mesmerising. The video for the song ‘Moola’ comes from the mind of the young Melbourne creative who describes himself as one who is “still learning”. Taking the 3D animation art form into his own hands, the clip is a fresh take on what we’ve seen on his Instagram previously, but at a much greater height. We caught up with the young artist to have a quick chat on all things animation and the process behind the captivating clip.
How would you describe your initial creative process with this kind of project? Are you a researcher, a mood-boarder, or do you just kind of jump into it?
I kind of just jump into it. At the time I had just started learning a second program that I can then link back into the original program to position models and things like that. I start just trying to base it around figures, like the female figure and statues.
Does the flow come on its own or do you have to plan it out?
It came from doing the artwork and the animations that I’d already done for those guys, and I then continued on in a similar theme and let it go a bit more loose because it was a longer clip, so it needed some more content. I kind of loosened up on what I was doing and more just made different sort of juxtapositions and contrasting graphics and things like that. They were similar themes to what I’ve worked with in the cover art.
Well as far as themes go, there’s a lot of stuff that you’ve done that explores gender and sexuality – how important do you think these themes are as far as your artistic journey goes?
As my artistic journey goes, fairly important – I feel like more of what I do is kind of similar to a photographer but it’s like you’re making the scene and the model as well, then shooting it. For me, I feel like it’s fairly important and it’s fun to be able to work with models and not have to communicate with real people in a studio [laughs].
Aside from that, what else about 3D work appeals to you?
I feel like it appeals to me because it’s like, the more I learn, the more possible it is for me to break down my boundaries of what I can create. I can make more and more realistic looking images whilst also warping them with surrealist sort of stuff. Like I can do a hyperrealistic thing but also make it a little bit fake-looking as well, bringing two different sorts of styles into one thing.
As far as this medium goes, it’s something that a lot of people are trying to crack into. Your work maintains this level of authenticity. How do you avoid clichés?
I feel like I get really bored really quickly. If I’m doing something and then I feel like I’m doing something that’s too ‘internet’ sort of, I get really sick of it straight away. So I want to learn to be able to add textures that push away from the super, super internet flat textured sort of stuff and I’d like to make it move closer into art than just internet graphics or whatever it would be called.
I don’t want to be a part of like a movement as such, I’d rather just develop my own art and kind of be able to work on myself as an artist and be able to develop my own work as well, rather than adding to a style and a group of people that already exist and do the same sort of thing.
What’s one thing you want newcomers to keep in mind when they first see your work?
That I’m still learning. There’s still a lot that I know that I need to work on and I still have a lot of refinement to do to be able to create better and better stuff, so it’s not… This isn’t where I would see it staying forever.
They have to be ready to sign up to something that’s going to keep evolving. But surely you’d rather have something that keeps changing and keeps moving than something that is static.
Yeah and that’s how this piece developed. Stephanie [from VP Records] saw my stuff on Instagram and had been following me and then just wrote an email to me and then I spoke to her on the phone for a bit. And yeah, we just decided on a rough idea of what we would be doing – I started doing the artwork and they were liking that and they really liked the animation I was doing for them so they asked me to do a video clip. It started off just as cover art and slowly turned into a whole kind of project. It was more like the album art and I was going to make a few little promo clips and it just developed into more.
They were just really, really great people to work for. Really nice and lovely people, super humbling to be able to work for people in a big label in Jamaica doing big releases. It’s just exciting and humbling. It shows that there are still opportunities for any kind of artist and it’s kind of a bit of a pay off. Bit of a motivation too.
That a little low-key testimony to Instagram as well, which is such a great platform for artists
Yeah, for sure. The site is a massive help. I also had a lot of help from my really talented friend Hamish Mitchell. He came through and just helped with chopping up all my animations and piecing it together to sync with the sound to help portray a story. It wouldn’t have been possible without him. But they were just really good people to work for, and I’m just super glad I had the opportunity to do it.
Bulby York’s album Epic & Ting is available now.
Watch ‘Moola’ feat. Cherine Anderson above.
Art + Animation: Nicholas Keays
Editor: Hamish Mitchell
Creative Direction: Nicholas Keays + Stephanie Chin (VP Records)