Filmmaker, illustrator and all-round Renaissance man, London based Daniel Brereton is originally from Cumberland in northeast England. He studied Graphic Design at Camberwell Art College where a straight talking tutor encouraged him to focus on filmmaking rather than drawing, a skill which has subsequently seen him partner with some of the most exciting DJs and musicians in modern electronic music. In 2014 he was a nominee in the UK Music Video awards for Metronomy’s song, Reservoir - a felt tip pen extravaganza, that combines a childlike naiveté with nostalgia for pre digital technology. Very much a maker rather than programmer, Daniel is also an ardent comic enthusiast, whose own strips have been published in Rough Trade magazine.
côte&ciel: Thanks for meeting me today Daniel. I love your studio, especially your colorful desk space - I also love the fact that your work feels very analogue – and therefore personal – does a lot of you creep in to your videos?
DB: I told a story about myself in a video back in 2013 for a DJ called Erol Alkan, for a song called ‘A Hold on Love’. It felt like the most honest and exciting work I think I’ve created up til now - I had this idea for a story about the first time I went to a rave – but I didn’t want to recreate it in a clichéd sense. So, basically, I put subtitles on a video of countryside which made the text into an interior monologue - we shot it during the day, and not in a dark sweaty venue. So we were asking for a leap of faith from the viewer . What I mean by that is, they’re listening to the music and you see the subtitles - only the places look different in the images, because it was daytime and there was no atmosphere, so you have to imagine what could have happened. The video was shot in Lake District and the day we shot it was beautiful weather and there was a really lovely sunrise…., so it all came together well.
That led onto wanting to create more ‘story telling’ style videos.
CC: Whom would you say you’ve enjoyed working with?
DB: Each project is different and the process changes always, but I’ve worked best with musicians when they have their own ideas and we’ve collaborated to make things happen. Artists like Metronomy, Kindness and Connan Mockasin.. My favorite example of a fruitful collaboration was probably with Connan Mockasin, on a song called ‘Forever Dolphin Love’– I’ve directed two videos of his, but this was my first - it was about this painted world based on Connan’s own paintings.
I thought a nice idea would be to bring his paintings to life. Connan was also very involved in the artistic process, I remember him and me slaving away painting the massive backdrop for the set! It was a great collaboration as Connan was so enthusiastic and trusting, he didn’t know it was going to turn out the way it did. The paintings were very layered and colourful, and had many characters that we augmented with hand-painted costumes and prosthetics . The story follows Connan as he leaves the ‘painted world’ in search of a dolphin girl – he travels through the city where he finally catches up with her, deep in the woods.
CC: You are also an illustrator, how often do you get to draw?
DB: Whenever I have chance, really, when I have time. I try and draw every day. If I have thoughts or ideas, I just need to get them out so as well as writing, I draw. Comics are good way of getting quite personal things out in a way so people don’t think it’s quite so serious. They also catch people off-guard I think, so you are able to talk about quite difficult topics. And I think people like the honesty, whereas if you write it down you can sound quite self-obsessed.
CC: What kind of comics do you like?
DB: Maus is great –plus anything from Daniel Clowes or Adrian Tomine – his drawings are really good.
CC: What inspires you to work?
DB: Curiosity, Just trying to explain about who I am as a person through creativity. I’m always thinking about things I see and wanting to translate them into my work.
CC: Why did you go into filmmaking?
DB: I was making films and illustrations as a part of my graphic design course at university. But my tutor said that my drawings were shit (!) and I’d be better off concentrating on the films I was doing. They were just little stupid films, but I really got into it. And then I was working for a textile design company. After that, I was on the dole and a friend called Stephen Bass (who now runs a label called Moshi Moshi records) asked me to make a music video for a band called Best Fwends, for a song called ‘Dream Off’ that gave me my first break break.
DB: The Beegees - people say guilty pleasures don’t exist and you should just enjoy what you like… I agree!
CC: What’s in your fridge today?
DB: Lots of hot sauce, chili oil with little nice crunchy bits and some veggies. My girlfriend is a vegetarian so our diet when we eat at home is mainly meat free .
DB: The canals – both Regents canal and the river Lee canal – they’re great places to walk or cycle through London
The café E Pellici on Bethnal Green road, London – I don’t go enough but love it there. The tradition, people, the décor…. It’s virtually unchanged since the 1930s
Freemason’s Hall, on Great Queen’s street in Covent Garden, Very strange and great.
Photography: Claudia Burlotti