Jonathan Desbiens is a French-Canadian film and music video director who goes by the name – Jodeb. Only 26 years old and he has already created a couple short-films and directed music videos for Deftones, Cypress Hill/Rusko and Underoath. Jodeb has quite the portfolio of creativity! His most recent released music video he directed for Porter Robinson’s song ‘Language’ is beautiful and after it caught our attention, we connected with with Jonathan Desbiens to get more insight on his work.
What was the most unique experience you had directing Porter Robinson’s newest music video for ‘Language’? This music video is my personal interpretation of the song and is related to what I went through during the last few months. You can see many images that were taken during a trip I did in New Zealand earlier this year, so in the end the whole experience of making this video was very intense and emotional. Porter and I collaborated a lot on this, he brought many good ideas in and I think we created something special that we both feel connected to. The whole thing was actually a unique experience because I think that we can all identify ourselves to that girl. This production was an experience full if very highs and very lows.
Out of all the music videos you have directed, which artist were you personally a big fan of their music? How did that help in your creative process? I’d say the Deftones. I grew up listening to some of their songs and it definitely helped me to make this project very important and emotional (again!). I think the result wasn’t so much personal, but the process was very intense and there was a strong feeling of trust between them and I, which made the shoot and post-production memorable. We had A LOT of fun on set. There is no acting in this video, it was really that intense on set.
Do you have any staple trademarks a viewer could find in all your work? I think there are trees or mountains in every single music video I did. I live in a rural area you know, I guess I always need an element of nature in all my work. But more seriously, I think I have a very painterly aesthetic, I try to make every shot feel like a painting. I’m not looking for realism at all, I’m only looking for intensity and escapism.
What about being from Quebec inspires you? Challenges you? Supports you? Quebec is pretty much the only French speaking nation in the Americas. So it automatically puts us in a different cultural bubble. Somehow I believe it can help artistically as we’re exposed to different views on society and arts. Every little success out of Quebec is a huge success for us, so I think the biggest challenge for me was to start working outside of Quebec, while still living there. I wouldn’t say I feel any sort of special support, but I work here in advertising in french and that helps me to make a living as a director. I also think that Quebecers are rebellious and proud people, and I’m definitely part of that.
What are your go-to websites when you are on the internet for fun? Radio-Canada.ca mainly, there are a lot of french radio talk shows about history, arts, society, etc. and I listen to it a lot when I’m in post-production. And obviously I lose a lot of precious time on Facebook, YouTube and such. I would prefer not to though!
What is something you learned recently (who taught you it)? That I need to let it go sometimes. And I’ll probably need to learn it again very soon as I always forget about it! My producer Geoff McLean is very good at reminding it to me.
Who is a mentor of yours? I don’t think I have any in particular. But I can say that I tend to work with collaborators that are older than me because that’s how I get to learn a lot more everyday, whether it’s on set or not.
What is overrated culturally right now? What is underrated? The obsession of novelty in art, cinema, advertising, music videos and in general really bores me. Too much emphasis is put on that. Having a strong meaningful and permanent artistic vision is way more important than developing breakthrough techniques in my opinion. The techniques will always get old, the impressions left by a strong vision have a chance to be timeless.
What are your three favorite music videos?
- Unkle – Rabbit in your headlight (directed by Jonathan Glazer)
- Massive Attack – Angel (directed by Walter Stern)
- Jay-Z – On to the next one \ 99 problems (directed by Sam Brown and Mark Romanek) These 2 videos are, in my opinion, complementary.
What is a quote or lyric that inspires you? There is not I think, I’m seriously really bad at remembering words, quotes or lyrics. Music in general inspires me a lot. I think listening to Massive Attack is the cure to all my worries and a huge source of inspiration. There is something fundamentally authentic about them and their music.
Be sure you watch ‘Roll It, Light It’ by Cypress Hill & Rusko (this is another music video favorite of ours that Jonathan Desbiens directed):