Dazed Digital: The Quay Brothers Interview

With the recent launch of COMME des GARCONS’ WONDERWOOD film, Dazed Digital sat down with its

Fashion
114 Hypes 0 Comments

With the recent launch of COMME des GARCONS’ WONDERWOOD film, Dazed Digital sat down with its creators, the Quay Brothers. Stephen and Timothy Quay are London-based identical twins originally from Pennsylvania, who are known for their visually cryptic and unsuspectedly emotive film making in animation. The interview itself details both the inspirations and creative processes behind the three-minute film, future projects, working with COMME des GARCONS and their signature styles. Excerpts from the interview can be read below.

It’s interesting to watch a film about perfume so I guess the first question that must come up is how do you translate perfume onto the screen?
Timothy Quay: I think it’s thanks to Rei [Kawakubo] and Adrian [Joffe] that they even thought that it has to be a film. They just send off an email saying “are you up for doing a film for Comme des Garcons?” Of course, we said yes. We couldn’t think of finer people to work with.

Stephen Quay: Also, they gave us complete freedom. Normally, when we work for commercials, either they insist on a storyboard or they write the story for you. And Adrian and Rei said, the twins know about the kingdom of wood…
Timothy Quay:…let them run.

Stephen Quay: Let them run with it! So, this is unique in these times, I think.

Timothy Quay: It will be the only time in our life that we had this. Everything else will be downhill!

At the screening, Antoine Lie, ‘the nose’, mentioned you smelled the perfume constantly throughout the making of the film. I’m guessing without a script that was important for creating your own world.
Timothy Quay: Exactly. It was part of the daily ritual to walk into this haze of Wonderwood, to spray it and walk into it.

What was your train of thought and creative process behind it? Did it begin with a clear idea?
Stephen Quay: The initial idea was that it should have a theatrical context for this person, these two eyes that watch. It’s almost like the enchanted forest of wood has a theatrical frame around it and there would be a set number of acts, of scenes, but each one a different forest. And then the idea was that there would be a kind of magical bird as the alchemist that would release the essence of the wood. In the way that if a seed broke open you would get to see what the inner side of it looks like but at the same time it’d make the grain of the wood anointed with its inner oils. It was loose ideas like that that we worked with. We realised that, at the very end of the film when all the elements, all the different grains as thematically chosen by the alchemist, would all fit together beautifully as a floor with 14 different woods and that’s what we ultimately arrived at: the final smell but seen as a parquet floor.

Timothy Quay: It was from disorder to order, by the end. It’s an orchestration and it’s what the perfumer does, that’s their craft, that’s their genius to make. We’re dying to go and see how it works!

Stephen Quay: But then we’d have to make a film!

Timothy Quay: I think there’s never been a documentary on perfume; I’ve never seen one. I’d love to know more about it.

Would that be something of a future project perhaps? A more in-depth foray into perfumery?
Stephen Quay: That would be nice!

Timothy Quay: The one thing we’ve always found that cinema can’t do is to achieve smell. You could probably do an installation where you have a film there with a kind of smell but at the normal cinema it’s impossible.

Stephen Quay: If your film is being distributed around the world nobody can find the formula to make it smell. Like if there’s the smell of autumn leaves burning, how do you do that? You can’t without having a little brush fire in the cinema!
There is a way of creating a tactility where people actually imagine they’re smelling something. But smell and how it creates a path to memory is something, as well. The notion of synaesthesia, when music and the visual elements evoke such an imaginary synthesis that you’re pretty sure you’re smelling it, at least in your imagination.

How was working with a brand like Comme des Garcons?
Timothy Quay: I think it’s because of the uniqueness and the kind of renegade sensibility – even though renegade sounds like it’s disordered when in fact they’re incredibly focused – it’s just a great honour to be pulled in to this maelstrom that Rei has created with Comme des Garcons. We’re just totally enamoured. When she came down to the studio with Adrian she was very quiet, just observing and listening but we felt this enormous intensity.

You’ve worked over different mediums in film, music, opera, theatre. Is there one that you’re much more happy to work in or more interested in or are you always happy to explore different grounds?
Stephen Quay: It’s nice leaping, going from one to the other, because every one pushes another discipline. So, if you’re suddenly being asked to do a documentary film you bring together a lot of the fictional side because that can really inform a documentary. I guess it’s a bit like a perfumer, you balance out the strengths to create, something leads a bit more or one contaminates the other, in a good way. For us, it’s great to do an animation film and then to do a live action film and to work with the ballet sometimes. I think every one exercises a different discipline and we like that. And commercials or a little spot like this is great!

It seems there’s a notion in a lot of your work of peering into a different world, the eye always looking in.
Timothy Quay: We don’t really use dialogue a lot. I guess it puts you, the observer, in the place of a puppet. How does the puppet perceive the life in the film? It’s an avenue, I think.

Stephen Quay: We’re used to saying, ‘it’s live action’. You see another articulated world, highly articulated because something is abstract but also very organised in its abstractness and I think it allows you to think…if the puppet can handle it then it’s up to you!

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

COMME Des GARÇONS SHIRT Explores the ASICS Running and Basketball Archives On Latest Collaboration
Footwear

COMME Des GARÇONS SHIRT Explores the ASICS Running and Basketball Archives On Latest Collaboration

Monochromatic takes on the OC Runner and Japan, complete with subtle artwork from Invader

Skepta to Perform DJ Set Alongside The Martinez Brothers in London Next Month
Music 

Skepta to Perform DJ Set Alongside The Martinez Brothers in London Next Month

Skepta is due to “Shutdown” The Beams venue in East London on December 17.

Release Info for the COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS x Nike Air Max 97
Footwear

Release Info for the COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS x Nike Air Max 97

Rei Kawakubo prepares the classic model in “Black” and “Glacier Grey” colorways.


Beyoncé Joins The Isley Brothers for a New Song
Music

Beyoncé Joins The Isley Brothers for a New Song

Reimagining the group’s track, “Make Me Say It Again Girl, Pts. 1 & 2.”

Oh No Ono – Internet Warrior (The Depreciation Guild Remix)
Music 

Oh No Ono – Internet Warrior (The Depreciation Guild Remix)

oh-no-ono-internet-warrior-the-depreciation-guild-remix

Supra EE Avenger - A Closer Look
Footwear Fashion

Supra EE Avenger - A Closer Look

Following a preview earlier in the month, Supra unveils a closer look into its EE Avenger, the

Nike "Write the Future" Short Film
Fashion

Nike "Write the Future" Short Film

Nike Football unveils an action-packed film that brings together some of the world’s greatest

Terence Koh Lecture @ MoMA PS1
Events

Terence Koh Lecture @ MoMA PS1

Renowned designer Terence Koh will be holding a lecture this month at MoMA PS1 in Long Island

Paul Smith Dog Pattern Ties
Fashion

Paul Smith Dog Pattern Ties

Portuguese retailer Por Vocacao presents a new series of Dog Pattern ties from Paul Smith.


Elite Gymnastics - Real Friends
Music 

Elite Gymnastics - Real Friends

elite-gymnastics-real-friends

Stevenson Overall Co. for vendor Graphic Tees
Fashion

Stevenson Overall Co. for vendor Graphic Tees

Premier Japanese retailer vendor teams up with American brand Stevenson Overall Co. on this new

Takahiro Miyashita "The Solo Ist." Announcement
Fashion

Takahiro Miyashita "The Solo Ist." Announcement

Although his Number (N)ine label is finally coming to a close, heralded Japanese fashion

Stussy x Casio G-SHOCK 30th Anniversary Watch
Watches

Stussy x Casio G-SHOCK 30th Anniversary Watch

Continuing its dynamic 30th Anniversary special projects and in following the advice of one of

Oneohtrix Point Never - Pelham Island Road
Music 

Oneohtrix Point Never - Pelham Island Road

oneohtrix-point-never-pelham-island-road

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. Support us by whitelisting our site.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.