PRESS RELEASE: 11 May 2016


Secret Friend’s “Diving in a Sea of Light”, Animated by Micah Buzan

Nearly one year in the making, for this song ostensibly about free-driving, we’re taken on an epic animated Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) fueled adventure into the depths of the ocean and greeted by surreal bio-luminescent sea creatures. Using a succession of diverse techniques, the animations become more psychedelic, more frenetic, and ever more fantastical as the clip progresses. Paper, watercolors, pencils, markers, crayons, and a digital Wacom tablet all seamlessly combine, yet with an occasional imperfection, perhaps deliberate, producing a refreshing hand-made aesthetic.

The animator is Missouri-based Micah Buzan. “I worked on this project on and off between March 2015 and February 2016. I’m most proud of the final minute or so of animation, where there are a bunch of cel-shaded creatures. I had to animate the dark-tones, mid-tones, and highlights on separate layers to create a cel-shaded look. Including the line-drawings, this meant a minimum of 4 layers needed to be individually animated for each frame of character movement. There’s a 3-eyed laughing monster who alone took almost 3 weeks to make. He has a fully animated face and complicated movements that took a lot of planning to execute.”

Much like the animation, the song itself completely changes course numerous times, beginning with a pencil tapping on an acoustic guitar’s stings, a Philip Glass Ensemble like crescendo, and in between you’ll hear 80’s electropop, a live jazz ensemble, and several other less specific genres all seamlessly morphing into one another without lingering too long or treading musical cliches. Power-pop veterans, and Secret Friend regulars, Linus of Hollywood and Willy Wisely take turns on lead vocals. Somehow, this “everything but the kitchen sink” music production method works – just the music on its own does an effective job of evoking the rapidly changing mindset of a DMT experience.

Secret Friend is Chiang Mai, Thailand-based American expat, Steven Fox. “About 25 years ago while backpacking in Indonesia I was invited to go tuna fishing with a local fisherman in the dead of night, where I encountered bio-luminescence in the ocean for the first time. Then a couple years ago I traveled to Peru and drank Ayahuasca. I’m not a spiritual person, but fairly experienced with other psychedelics, so it was more of a bucket list kind of thing. Surprisingly, I didn’t particularly enjoy the experience so I left the retreat earlier than scheduled and continued to backpack around South America where I wrote this song, although it’s about DMT, not Ayahuasca.” Steven went on to compose several more tracks for his next album, Sleeper, during that same trip, with the overarching theme of how nature, music, and spirituality intertwine. “I may have initially felt I got nothing from my Ayahuasca experience, but looking back now it was undoubtedly the catalyst for this album.”

Even before album recording had completed, Steven set about recruiting young animators and film directors from around the world to produce videos for each of the ten tracks, a project which will be concluding later this year. “From the outset I wanted the album to be a multi-media experience. For some tracks I wrote the entire treatment, but for most of them I’ve let the director or animator give me their own interpretations. Micah had animated another track on the album called “Do You”, I liked his interpretation so much that I unconditionally trusted him to do this track too. We discussed just the basic story line and how the animations styles should be constantly changing, and I introduced Micah to the works of some animators I admire, such as Norman McLaren. Then I just left him to it. I didn’t see the film until it was finished.”

Watch “Diving In a Sea of Light” here:

See more of Micah’s work and tutorials on his YouTube channel:

Catch more Secret Friend videos and music on their YouTube channel: