BEHIND THE SCENES OF FIRST KISS WITH DAMIAN KULASH OF OK GO:
1 Anything fun or cool or interesting come from being in the video?
A nice kiss, obviously.
The entire world has come out of the woodwork. It’s pretty crazy. OK Go has had a lot of very successful online videos, and I’m used to the slew of texts and emails from people I haven’t seen in 10 or 20 years when one of them hits its viral stride. But they’re always sort of framed by the fact that it’s my band — that’s my job. This has been crazier, somehow, I guess because it speaks to a whole different audience, or because it’s a genuine surprise to see me in there. My parents’ next door neighbors realized that the new chaplain at their kids’ tiny school had been a teacher of mine as a child, because all of them were independently bragging about how they knew someone in the video. Really? A teacher o mine from 20 years ago can still recognize me? And is getting sent kissing videos? And that many people are talking about it at all times?
2 Have you been recognized by anyone from the video or any funny stories related to that?
No one has stopped me on the street or anything, but then again, this is L.A. When are you ever actually on the street with other people? Mostly, it’s been a sort of knowing smirk whenever I see a friend who I haven’t seen in a while. Or a coy text from someone whose number I forgot I had. I am actually a little surprised in the other direction by the comments from our fans on our Facebook page and web site. Most of them, it seems, didn’t notice it was me on a first pass. I supposed context is everything, but even Tim, our bassist and my best friend since I was 11, said he didn’t realize it was me until he heard my voice. I bet it’s because everyone’s looking at Nicole. Girls are a lot more fun to watch.
3 Have you seen or talked to anyone else that was in the video since? Your kissing partner or otherwise?
Nicole and I went out to brunch after the shoot, which was at about 11 AM, and lasted less than 15 minutes. It just seemed to weird to kiss someone and then shake their hand and say nice meeting you. And we’ve texted a few times since, mostly about how insane it is to know that at any given moment (at least in those first few days) literally millions of people were watching us kiss — watching a weird moment that went by so fast, and has now been revived for thousands of hours of viewing.
She’s a musician, too, so we’ve traded some rock n’ roll stories and such. She’s working on an album that sounds like it will be amazing, so maybe Paracadute, the label we run will put it out. That would be a hell of a weird start to a record contract, wouldn’t it? Then again, maybe not… I gather there are more than a few pop stars who kissed (and then some) their way up the industry ladder. But I’m assuming not on camera, and in less innocent circumstances.
I should be asking you… weren’t we gonna have a wrap party? It’s a little late for that, but you could throw a 70 Million party or something.
4 What was the experience like being on the set / filmed?
It was fast and awkward. Clearly, the charm of the film is in watching people negotiate what a weird situation it is, so there was no direction, just: “Stand over there.” “So are we rolling?” “Yes.” “So we should…um… like…?” “Just do whatever comes natural.” What I remember most distinctly is the end of the kiss. Because if you’re making out with someone under more normal circumstances, after a few moments of introductory kisses, it probably escalates a little, gets more passionate, maybe involves other parts of your body. And I remember thinking, Do we do that now? Or is that too forward and kind of rape-y? Because I don’t know this girl, and I don’t want to assume anything here…. but then, if I stop now is that some kind of rejection? And normally there are natural pauses as you’re sort of falling into your making out rhythm, so we paused, but then nothing is natural all of the sudden. That’s when you might, in any other circumstance, look at your partner and try to figure out what they’re thinking, or where they want this to go, and how fast. But if there are like 5 cameras and a wall of lights pointed at you, that little pause is suddenly a giant gaping hole in time. And once you ask yourself, Wait, are we done? Then suddenly it’s even more aggressive and maybe weird to grab the person and start kissing again. So then it’s, wait, was that it? did we just finish kissing? Because we just started kissing… But it’s definitely too weird once there’s a possibility that she now thinks we’re done kissing. You definitely can’t dive back at this person you just met. So all of the sudden, ok, thanks.. that was it.
5 Why do you think people like the video so much?
I think the video really captures the sweetness and the awkwardness of the moment. And even though it’s a more constructed moment than most people’s first kiss, there are some universal things there. The hesitation and the nervousness and the curiosity and anticipation. Think about how often you see making out, whether its kissing or a lot more, on TV or in a film. It’s everywhere, all the time, but it’s always basically serving you up the same stew of emotions: lust, confidence, passion, the satisfaction of urges. And this is something so different. The emotions that jump out are so much more complex and so familiar to us as humans, but so much rarer on screen. It’s sort of like you have porn on one end of the spectrum. Total fantasy where the singular emotion is lust and there’s no second dimension at all. In the middle there’s romance in films and tv shows, where there may be more emotions involved, but it’s all still at a safe distance in the world of fiction, where we know we watch from our own little bubble outside. And then on the far opposite end of the spectrum there’s this film, where all of these other dimensions of are so acutely present, and you know you’re watching something real. Most people just really feel the weird awkward tenderness of it. And then some just find it creepy, because it’s so much more voyeuristic than watching movie stars make out. And then others find it revolting because they are homophobic.
6 What are you up to next? Any work or personal stuff you feel like mentioning
OK Go has a new EP coming out in June, and a full album in October. We haven’t named the EP yet, but there record will be called “Hungry Ghosts.” We’ve been working on these songs for an eternity, and we are so giddy and excited about getting them out into the world. It’s the best record we’ve made. And of course, it means that I’m now launching back into making videos and all of the attendant stuff that comes with a record. Let’s hope we can make a video that’s half as successful as this one. We’ll be on tour starting July or so, and probably go for a long time.
7 Anything awesome I’m forgetting or not touching on?
Not that I can think of. If my responses lead to more questions, you know how to reach me.