Franz Impler builds video game-inspired cities for Zouj’s new music video

Working with Adam Lenox on his new music project Zouj, Impler’s animated video tells the story of a character toeing the line between two contrasting worlds

“The name of the song, j0_0j, can be translated to ‘Jouj’. That means ‘two’ in Moroccan Arabic,” explains animator Franz Impler, the brains behind the new music video for Zouj (aka Adam Lenox)’s new track.

“For me the song is about standing inbetween two worlds and the process of entering a new one,” Impler adds. “I tried to translate this through the different worlds in the video. There is this unreal and threatening city on the one side, and on the other side this flowery landscape, which is dreamy and soft but also a bit unreal. Everything is flickering like it’s inbetween different states. It was me trying to imagine the transformation of worlds.”  

Impler has known the musician for some time and a mutual appreciation of each other’s work has led them to collaborating on this project. “Adam’s new music project was the perfect opportunity to start our first collaboration. He asked me if I wanted to make a video for his new project and I immediately said yes,” says Impler. “For me it feels like if I could hear my animations they would sound a bit like Adam’s music.“

We first wrote about Impler’s love of 90s video games last year and he’s adapted this playful, purple-hued, video game aesthetic for the video. “I like the imperfection and rawness of old school video game aesthetics, the ferocity and fastness, and transforming these aspects for my work,” says the animator. 

In creating the video, Impler started with a raw storyboard, but early on he began building the city in Cinema 4D. “More and more I moved away from the original storyboard and ideas,” notes Impler. “I like to create the worlds my animations take place in first, even before I know exactly what’s going to happen there. That gives me the opportunity to handle the work and the whole process very playfully. Then I still can change everything or add new things so the idea and concept can evolve along the way.” 

Though Impler had free rein on the look and feel of the video he was conscious that the song was coming from a personal perspective. “It’s a very personal song by Adam. I have a very different background than he has, so I had to find my own access to the story of the song,” explains the animator. “I needed to remain aware of both my own position related to the topic of the song and Adam’s. That was a bit of a balancing act. Adam gave me complete creative freedom but I always stayed in touch with him and he gave feedback and advice. That helped a lot.” 

Music has always been one of Impler’s main sources of inspiration so being able to create a music video felt like a dream project. “Listening to music is often the starting point for my projects. It kind of triggers my visual/filmic imagination. Especially Adam’s distinctive sounds which feel very visual to me,” says Impler. “So making animations for music fits my usual creative process very well. And it’s a lot of fun to use the rhythm of the music and transfer it to a filmic rhythm.” 

The animator hopes the video adds to the experience of listening to Zouj’s song, rather than acting as only accompanying visuals. “Sort of like a complementary story or feeling,” he says. “But I’m also happy if it is entertaining and people enjoy watching it while listening to the song. I really like the music and the song and I hope the video can enrich the whole experience.”