At the tail end of summer, Corbin (formerly known as Spooky Black) released a music video for “Hunker Down.” The Braden Lee-directed short film marks the first visual off Corbin’s debut album Mourn. In the creepy video, a lonely Corbin explores the woods in isolation – unless you can count rats and cockroaches as companions. After hanging out in an abandoned house, he drives off to an abandoned area and proceeds to cement his own grave in a car.
Similar to the moody singer, director Lee is also based in Minnesota. In addition to Corbin, the Korean-American director has collaborated with other artists such as GoldLink, Abhi // Dijon, Psymun, and Foshay. Lee considers himself as a lifelong movie fanatic, but he only started working in film and photography in his early twenties.
“My first real job was for an ad agency and my boss thought I knew everything about film/photography so I hustled and watched countless tutorials,” he said. “Eventually, I edited a few music videos as a favor for a co-worker. After that I felt like I could do a lot more on my own.”
In 2012, Lee founded the video channel AGAINST GIANTS. He currently produces, directs, shoots and edits projects with a small crew. In the future, Lee hopes to work with “select production companies” to “do something more complex.”
Highsnobiety recently caught up with Lee to learn more about his experience working with Corbin and bringing this film project to life. Get all the details in the interview below.
How did you end up connecting with Corbin for this project? Who approached who?
I’ve met Corbin randomly a few times at shows and at Bobby Raps’/Psymun’s respective studios. Corbin had seen a visual I made for Psymun back in 2014 so I think he knew what I was about. Psymun hit me up one morning asking for a film reel and days later I was on the phone with their manager, Doc McKinney.
What exactly is the concept for this video?
Shlohmo [co-producer for Mourn] wrote a basic treatment for the song dealing with isolation, paranoia and the idea of Corbin preparing for the worst due to the current state of affairs in the nation. Basically, an extension of the album’s concept. I sort of channeled those themes and planned to treat things more surreal in a subtle way.
How involved was Corbin in terms of coming up with the treatment?
I was on vacation during pre-production so we exchanged ideas over phone and email. Corbin was very much involved with the evolution of my initial treatment and during the shoot we worked together to improvise a few scenes.
Where did filming for the video take place? How did you find all of the settings?
We mainly filmed in in two different towns in Wisconsin not too far from Minneapolis and St. Paul. I worked with an old friend who is a location scout in one of the areas. The cement pour scene was shot within a quarry in a small town where I spent many summers as a kid.
The cinematography is so beautiful, but you can’t unsee the darkness within this visual. How were you able to find a balance?
I think it’s found in the pairing of his performance and the choices I made in editing and coloring the footage. It helps that Corbin has this ability to transmit raw emotion full of anguish. It’s undeniable.
How long was the whole process to execute this video from start to finish?
Turnaround time was one month. We’ve had the film ready to go since the day Mourn dropped.
What’s the deal with that cockroach shot? And where did the rat come from?
Open to interpretation, but for me the hissing roach has to do with survival. Cockroaches have been on this planet for hundreds of millions of years and they’ll be here long after we’re all gone. The rat belongs to a friend of Corbin’s, but I like to think it’s his pet too.
How would you describe this experience of collaborating with Corbin? Any important takeaways from working with him?
Corbin is chill and has a sense of humor so it was fun to be somewhere new and try shit. There were a lot of scenarios to cover and a fairly intense schedule, but he was down to capture as much as possible.
You and Corbin are both based in Minnesota. What is it about this place that inspires your creativity? Why do you choose to stay there? Also, how would you describe the creative community that you inhabit there?
I’m in L.A. often for family and work, but right now Minneapolis is home. I’m not really sure why I’ve stayed here for so long. Maybe it’s because I like the changing of seasons. The Twin Cities has a strong arts community not just in music, but also design, fashion, food and theater. It’s an exciting time to see the youth coming up influenced by Justin Vernon, Poliça, Corbin, Bobby, Psymun and what many others are doing.
What else do you have coming up? Any exciting projects down the pipeline that you can share?
I can’t reveal anything specific just yet, but expect more music videos and hopefully a short film next year.
We also spoke with Corbin’s producer, D33J. Read our chat here.