Magazine Feature

How Twenty One Pilots' Tyler Joseph Captured Their Career on Film for 'Ode to Sleep'

twenty one pilots
Courtesy of Fueled by Ramen

twenty one pilots tattooing each other.

"He would be a hell of a director if he wasn’t doing music,” says Twenty One Pilots creative director Mark Eshleman of frontmanTyler Joseph, who has had Eshleman taping the band since the two met in 2009. Where other artists use Twitter or Instagram to connect with their audience, Pilots fans (they call themselves the Skeleton Clique) go behind the scenes with the duo’s documentary-style videos. “Tyler knew what he wanted to see from the beginning,” says Eshleman, who recalls going through Joseph’s favorite music videos with him early on. “They’re all about being on camera.”

Courtesy of Fueled by Ramen
twenty one pilots storming Disney World.

The charismatic artists are affable hosts in videos detailing everything from a trip to Disney World to a Twitter poll pitting the two against each other. “They really know the importance of keeping things on-brand,” says Eshleman, who at first found himself shooting near-empty venues. “I pulled Tyler aside a few times, like, ‘No one showed up to this show -- are you sure that you want to capture the whole thing?’ ” Tyler was, and it paid off -- now those humble early clips are part of the rags-to-riches “Ode to Sleep” video, which has amassed almost 6 million views on YouTube. The DIY aesthetic keeps the band accessible, says Eshleman. “I could buy better gear, but when I put my camera on a rig, it just doesn’t feel like those early days.”