We sat down with Jimmy Giannopoulos and Penn Badgley of Mall Wave to talk more about "Turning Off", the art of unplugging, and what that means in a world where the iPhone addiction is all too real.

Music

3.2.2018

Premiere: Unplug With The "Turning Off" Video From Mall Wave

If there’s one universal symbol that defines our generation, it’s the one we’re all holding in our hand: the iPhone. Endlessly useful, and equally addictive, the iPhone is technology at its best—and perhaps worse. Mall Wave’s “Turning Off” is part commentary on the aforementioned dichotomy of good and bad, but it’s also much more than that—serving as an introduction to the band’s new project where they’ll be selectively releasing tracks paired with videos over an extended amount of time in the coming months. If it’s meant to keep us wanting more, it’ working—and if “Turning Off” is any indication of what’s to come, we’re here for it.

We sat down with Jimmy Giannopoulos and Penn Badgley of Mall Wave to talk more about “Turning Off”, the art of unplugging, and what that means in a world where the iPhone addiction is all too real.

I’m excited to talk about how you guys wanted to bring the track to life visually. How did the idea come about?

Jimmy Giannopoulos: So, this is the vibe. It’s the first debut track off of this new project, called “Mall Wave”.

And is there a full album coming?

Giannopoulos: So, this is my ultimate dream for it. Because it’s still early, we can shape it anyway we want to. I want to say the right amount of stuff. Basically what would be the coolest thing to do is to make a track, make a video, release them both, and just do it like that. Always. That’s what I wanted to be like a whole thing. Each one is a movie almost, this is the song, you put it out. But I know that in the industry, there’s a lot of red tape when you do stuff like that. I’m fighting all these crazy things, that makes it hard to maneuver, but on that same platform, I don’t really care because I deal with a lot of other projects, and I don’t think we’re really missing anything. If you do something and it’s dope, and you put it out there, and you believe in it, and you want to express yourself just with the simple, quick, sort of thing, I think that the people who are into, just the visuals, who are into what I’m into—it’s not content, it’s just like an idea instead of a whole fucking you know what I mean. I want to introduce one family member, not the whole family. Just do it like that. I think that it’s ok to do that now, even though the industry tries to corner you away from that. I want to focus on it doing each one individually.

Do you think part of the motivation is in part from the fact that people have really short attention spans now, and maybe won’t take the time to really listen to a full album? Or did you want to just spotlight—

Penn Badgley: No! To me, that’s not the impetus behind why we’re releasing this way. I mean, if it helps it make sense, sure, fine. But I think it’s not so much tailoring what we make to the expectations of the audience. I think it illustrates, in terms of our work and how we work together, like in the past we’ve come from a more conventional approach, and we’re interested in taking it to a more conceptual level. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Yeah! I watched a video from “Centerfold” from like two years ago maybe, and it’s much different from what you guys are doing now.

Badgley: That to me, especially “Centerfold”, the video, the way that that came about and the impetus behind the song, and making that record with that band, to me, there’s nothing wrong with the convention, because in terms of the experience it was quite pure, it was lovely, it was awesome. It also has its limitations, and there’s something happening in the world now, and in the industry, and in music. It seems like the payoff for trying to step beyond the convention, can be quite substantial. I don’t mean monetarily, but in the vibe that you get.

Giannopoulos: We want to grow with the project, and Penn just wrapped up a show he did. That takes up a lot of time. He was the lead and in pretty much every scene, so he was working everyday, all the time. I just finished the lolawolf album, and we’re doing so much. To make an entire album and then try to change from album to album requires so much time and so many ideas and energy focused on one broad stroke, but this way, when you do it like this, with this new project you can grow from track to track. Idea, visual to visual—

Badgley: This is something we talked about while we were making MOTHXR, we were touring, and operating in many ways like a band. It’s made sense for decades. But then we were frustrated at the same time, and same with Jimmy, he works with music in a way that I don’t. But, one of these ideas that he’s had for so long that we’re really interested in manifesting finally is really, truly—and correct me if I’m wrong–but it sounds like what I’ve always thought was so brilliant about the seed of this idea, is that every song has a video. Every song is not just a song, and every video is not just a video. The icons right now are doing this sort of thing, they don’t put out singles the same way. But that to me is an indication of how it can work even though if you’re not at that level, you have to play with different rules. If you put out the pieces over an extended amount of time—and again, this is always how I’ve seen it—but if you’re able to over the course of six months or a year, put out over an EP’s worth of songs with videos that act as pieces, that people—I mean, I don’t know. There’s something there. I think there’s something about maybe what we haven’t seen anybody do, and following it through, and sticking to it and keeping it conceptual and artistic.

Giannopoulos: You’re nailing it. That’s pretty much it.

Badgley: Not make it about us, so much as it is really, really forcing by the way you release it, forcing the receiver to think about it just as this thing unto itself. For instance, this song is a great example. Between the video and the song, you get a lot of imagery and maybe what you could call “cultural commentary”. You have this sense that it’s at one time, like, totally pop-sensibilities, but it’s also very weird. You get the sense, depending on who you think is behind it or who you thought could be thinking about it, that there’s this wealth of knowledge behind it and intention. Or, depending on your perception of it, it’s something disposable. I don’t know. I think that the point is that we want to try, basically through the way we deliver things, is this kind of unwavering vision, and it might be all over the place but it’s still art. Maybe it’ll turn out that in 6 months time, everything that I’m saying proves to be less wild, you know? I think now, in this day and age, who the hell can predict what’s going to keep?

I think right now, we’re all struggling to understand what it means to be alive, and there’s so much that’s happening. Technology complicates things. Are we going to write songs that are just good songs? Yes, that’s also happening. If we can follow through with conviction.

Featured image courtesy of Mall Wave

Stay tuned to Milk for more first looks.

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