Music videos are often just as important as the song itself, potentially being able to reach audiences beyond the fans of the singer or band. They can be done in a way that best represents the emotions and themes of the lyrics, the stylistic tone of the song or be a reflection of the singers themselves. With this knowledge, it’s easy to understand how Shelter has managed to become so popular over the last few weeks.
Shelter is the music video by Porter Robinson and Madeon and with its beautifully hand drawn anime art style and touching narrative, it extended its reach beyond that of both Porter’s and Madeon’s established fan base. And with both singers, in particular Porter, already being quite popular there really wasn’t any promotional incentive for creating this animated short story alongside their song.
But they decided to anyway and with an engaging narrative told almost entirely through its anime aesthetic, they succeeded in reaching a demographic that is rarely ever given the spotlight by major music companies or mainstream audiences.
Instead of pursuing a creative endeavour similar to that of more mainstream music videos, they instead target the often neglected anime audience in western media, doing so in a way that doesn’t come across as a cheap attempt to further promote their new song. The talent and commitment that was put into creating Shelter is clear to see in every frame. And instead of the video existing to compliment the song, it actually feels like it’s the song that exists to complement the video.
Yet if it wasn’t for the interviews done by Porter showcasing his passion for anime and this project, then the pessimist in me would look at what they’ve done now as an effective marketing ploy. Nothing more than an enticing video that will attract the viewer to the two’s other singles and albums, coming across as insincere and disingenuous.
And yes, while that aspect is true of any music video, it almost feels secondary to what both of them actually wanted to accomplish. That is, to find an outlet for their passions and creatively express them to as many people as possible.
That last part might sound like a blanket statement for the intentions of singers and songwriters as a whole, but the key difference here is how willing they are to create something almost completely different than what we are currently used to.
Many videos today are simply “there”, only existing because that’s what’s expected from songs. It makes it difficult to tell if the video is the creation of the singer or if the singer is just fulfilling an obligation. Yet as Shelter demonstrates, being creatively unique not only creates more interest from your fans, but from those who may never have even heard of you. Being one of those who had never heard of either of them, I can say that they succeeded in what they set out to do.
By Thomas Barley