Amber Kuo is a Mandopop singer and actor and after an eight year hiatus she is set to release her new album this summer with her own record label, Nomad City Records. As a taster of what’s to come, this week sees her release a track from the album called A Scarlet Riding Hood. Taipei-based 2D animator Xavia Chen has collaborated with Kuo to create a sweet, illustrated music video to go alongside it.
“The music video is inspired by the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. I titled my song after it as well. The story of the song inevitably became a fairytale, presented in illustrations, and expressing the emotions beyond words and music,” says Kuo.
“After hearing the music, I felt that I was running and running with the fox and rabbits in the animation,” adds Chen. “The feeling of encountering this song is very strange. It is a story that awakened a corner of my mind, even though it comes from Amber’s writing.”
The style is naïve, charming and reminiscent of past videos made by London-based collective Shynola. Meeting through mutual friends, Kuo and Chen worked on the promo together. “Basically, I started my creation from Amber’s text and music, then I drew the pictures and slowly pieced together the whole feeling of this music video,” explains Chen.
“Because I am accustomed to using non-narrative methods of animation, I first broke the story down and then re-composed it visually. For me, I don’t follow the traditional creative process. Amber is also happy to let me follow my own method. This sense of trust saves us a lot of communication consumption, and it also allows me to continue my motivated creation until the moment of completion.”
With pandemic restrictions in place Kuo and Chen still haven’t met in person, but the pair feel the process went smoothly despite the distance. “With Xaiva’s simple and pure creative illustration, it’s exactly what I wanted to truly represent the story,” says Kuo. “Therefore, from the process to the final delivery, we hardly made any changes, and everything was born so naturally!”
Chen continually listened to the track throughout the project, so the visuals were truly inspired by the music. She also wanted to keep a mindset of complete freedom. “The challenge was thinking too much and ending up drawing something that is unnatural. The original idea was to make an animation of a girl’s diary, which contains elements like stickers, crayons, and origami,” explains Chen.
“This approach can very easily become unnatural due to too much thinking, or accidentally being led by standard thoughts. For example, overthinking what a rabbit should look like. And what a fox should look like. In fact, when a child draws, they have the ability to draw whatever they want. Delivering the innocent expression from the little girl in the animation was just like playing a role myself.”
Chen feels animation and music are the perfect partners with one completing the other, and it’s a sentiment Kuo shares. “[Animation] has the opportunity and power to refine the core expression of music, and I get such satisfaction from this animation,” she says.
A Scarlet Riding Hood by Amber Kuo is out now. The album Vol.13-1986 The Journey of Sleepless Sheep, is set to be released Summer 2021 by Nomad City Records; @xaviamy