If you have a song called “Mosquito,” the video should probably feature everybody’s favorite insect in some way — as multi-faceted artist Bill Baird’s does on the clip premiering exclusively below.
The video features Baird in a red robe and fencing mask, playing guitar in front of a three-sided screen with images of mosquitos mapped onto it. It represents the live performances Baird did this fall in conjunction with his latest album, Owl — and, in fact, came first before he even took the idea on stage.
“I originally wanted to do it as a triangle because I’d previously made a triangular instrument,” Baird — who wrote the song after witnessing a “mosquito apocalypse” in Texas — tells Billboard. “Then I found out it was a lot easier to find joints and 90-degree angles, so the concept kind of came together.” And, in the end, it was all about the boxes, according to Baird.
“We spend 99 percent of our lives inside of these boxes, so when you see boxes represented on the screen it just feels kind of natural,” he explains. “In a way it was like I made the videos before I made the live (show) — I was kind of prototyping what I imagined it might look like. I thought it was kind of fun. I imagined what it might look like, with the image mapped inside of a box. I was having fun, but the video came first while I prototyping the box, or the cube, that I used during the show.”
The mostly instrumental Owl was also a collaboration with the Los Angeles art collective Arthur King Presents…, which released the album during October. “They guided me and gave me some basic parameters and were like, ‘Go get ’em!'” Baird says. “I did it all completely on my own and then I basically said ‘Here’s the record’ and they were like, ‘This is awesome!’ That was pretty much the extent of the collaboration. They’ve been super encouraging and it’s been awesome working with them.” And not surprisingly Baird is of a mind to do something else with Arthur King, maybe in the near future.
“A lot of what that label has done has been more in traditional indie rock, so this was sort of a new thing and we’ll see how it goes,” says Baird, who’s also helping create videos for another Arthur King project that’s coming out next year. He’s also added a pair of live shows — Jan. 8 at home in Oakland and Jan. 9 in Los Angeles as part of an Arthur King event — and he’s hoping to mount more. “Playing in the cube made me so happy,” Baird says. “Putting on the suit and a mask and the projects and everything, I felt really free. It didn’t matter if anybody was watching or not, I just got so into it and it felt so good. After I finished that last tour I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got to do some more of that!'”
Baird, who recently put together a light installation in Austin, Texas, is balancing his music with a number of other endeavors — by his estimate “probably, like, 20 different projects in various states of building up or breaking down.” It’s hard to keep tabs sometimes, he acknowledges, but it remains his preferred way of working.
“This way when you get stumped on one thing you move to the next one and then come back to the other when you’re ready,” Baird explains. “Sometimes it’s just exercising different parts of your brain, sometimes it’s about finding a good groove, and sometimes they kind of reinforce each other. Sometimes you really want to say something about man’s search in the world. Sometimes you want to do something completely different that’s not personal at all, it’s just about colors. So there’s a lot of different ways to approach art. I’m just glad I get to try so many.”
JAN. 8th – Golden Bull – OAKLAND, CA
JAN. 9th – The Echo – LA, CA (w/ Arthur King)