The Artist Explains: Cale Hawkins - 'Deep Dream' (Video)

Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Cale Hawkins talks to us about the visuals for his quirky yet sophisticated indie rock single 'Deep Dream'.
'Deep Dream' taking its listener through a dreamscape world of catchy melodies and reflective storytelling as it tackles the themes of addiction, depression, heartbreak and insomnia. 

"It's a cautionary tale about the dangers of receding into a deep dream, and the inevitable question of detachment: "Am I better off than dead?""

Cale Hawkins Explains
How did you come up with the idea to create an animated video for 'Deep Dream'?
I’m completely independent at the moment (read: no video budget), so all the videos I’ve released thus far have been self-edited from public domain source footage. The animation used in 'Deep Dream' was done by a Polish animator named Jan Lenica in the 60s.

For this tune, I was initially leaning towards using animated footage since the imagery is so surreal. However, the process of finding the right source footage takes some time on each project. The public domain is chock full of mediocre content that you have to filter through to find the good stuff. I had used one of Lenica’s animations for an earlier video ('2:30 Tuesday'), so it was fortuitous that I happened upon another piece of his for “Deep Dream.”

What is the story in the animation and how does it compliment the song?

Well, the story behind the original animation, “Monsieur Tete,” is quite a bit different from my re-edit. I believe the playwright Eugene Ionesco wrote it.

The story behind my re-edit starts on a seemingly normal morning; the sun rises, the birds sing in the trees, and our protagonist is just waking up. However, once he awakens, he realizes things are a bit off, and these surreal intrusions only intensify further. As the video progresses, the character’s predicament is hinted through glimpses of his subconscious. The characters he encounters, his observations of his environment, the cat-and-mouse dream sequence all lend insight into the character’s motivations for escaping into a deep dream.

Any behind the scenes stories?
I wrote this song in a depressing hotel room in Las Vegas, while I was there for a sideman gig with another band two years ago. I’m not the hugest fan of casinos, so I typically would hole up in my room and work on music during those gigs. I think there’s an Instagram video of a super early demo floating around out there.

Tell us about the themes and imagery used?
Addiction is something that we’re all beset by in one way or another, both positively and negatively. A lot of the lyrical imagery in 'Deep Dream' focuses on the feelings that accompany negative addiction. Most of us have had at least one moment where you wake up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep soundly because you’re in need (or think you’re in need) of something you’re not getting. Of course, sleep is also a metaphor for the quiet calm that so many of us turn to addictive substances, ideologies, or behaviors in order to find.

There’s also a lyric about antifreeze in the first verse that’s worth pointing out. Antifreeze has been a recurring theme in a few songs I’ve written, most of which have never been (and will never be) heard. I grew up in a rural, sparsely populated area of Western New York, which gets really cold and snowy during the winter, so everyone has antifreeze in their garage. In school, we were taught to avoid leaving the antifreeze open, because it’s deliciously sweet-tasting to dogs and cats, yet entirely fatal in small doses. I’ve always found it to be a good metaphor for negative addiction – many negative addictions can feel so sweet, yet are ultimately fatal before we even realize it.

Interview feature by Karla Harris