JPNSGRLS - "Smalls" (video) (Premiere)

Photo: Casey Bennett

The kinetic, off-the-wall music video for JPNSGRLS' infectious tune "Smalls" is available for viewing exclusively at PopMatters.



Label: Light Organ
US Release Date: 2014-07-15
UK Release Date: Import

The jury is still out on whether or not the so-called "emo revival" is truly the revival that it claims to be. But for Canadian rockers JPNSGRLS ("Japanese Girls"), emo is a key but not irreducible component of their sound. Energetic frontman Charlie Kerr's vocals are cut from the same cloth that spawned countless a pop-punk band, but his fellow musicians bring a garage-rock intensity to counterbalance the cutesiness of his delivery and some of his lyrics. On "Smalls", a track from their forthcoming Circulation LP, Kerr sings about "kitty kats" and references the kid-favorite The Sandlot over a fast, rockabilly-esque delivery. (He does, however, get some great one-liners, including the choice "There's more to life than getting used to death"). The rest of the band, meanwhile, is ripping into some stellar riffs, all the while guiding the tune in directions a run-of-the-mill rock outfit probably wouldn't.

The video for "Smalls", directed by Nathan Boey, captures the schizoid quality of the song, all the while adding some left-field images that include the band in corpsepaint, a strange sort of garbage chute, and shadows creeping along dim-lit walls. Boey explains, "We wanted to make a video that captured the dark, haunting lyrics and the buzzing, raw and gritty textures of the song."

Kerr says of the tune, "'Smalls' is a song written about being on various drugs. The first half is written about the young, fun experience and the second half is about an adult dependance on anti-depressants that my friend struggles with to this day. Everyday he wakes up and hardly recognizes the person that drugs have made him, which worked out visually with us becoming unrecognizable symbols of darkness in the latter half of the video. The video turned out incredible; to me, it feels like Tim Burton or David Lynch directed Scott Pilgrim vs The World, so as a film nerd I was just smitten with the result."

Guitarist Oliver Mann goes into further detail, saying, "Right from the treatment, I was very excited because it was obvious that Mario [Forero, executive producer] and Nathan are really talented and creative people. The only concrete aspects that had been discussed before arriving on set was that the video would revolve around the theme of death—'There is more to life than getting used to death'—and that we were going to push the visuals to that end. We felt they could produce something really amazing when given a relatively blank canvas and that they deserved to be trusted.

"The video shoot itself was interesting. You might assume, looking at the video, that the majority of it was filmed in front of a green screen but that was not the case. It was actually filmed in complete darkness except for the few lights that were on the subject. Originally, Nathan had wanted to film the video in an abandoned warehouse, but, being unable to secure one, I found it quite hilarious that the next best thing was local hipster club The Cobalt.

"Mario and Nathan did a great job at translating the energy and chaos that the band tries to bring to each performance to the spasm that is 'Smalls'. Beyond the performance the visuals are really engaging and it was fun to see how the tricks that we did on set were realized in the final video. My favorite part is when Charlie sticks his head out of the drawer each time to sing. It would be great if we could all fit into drawers. It would allow for more room in the tour van which is a bit cramped as it is."

The result of all of this is a video that's every bit as kinetic and infectious as "Smalls" itself.

Circulation is out on July 15th through Light Organ.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.