Weston Allen Takes Lead
Creative director, editor, and musician, Weston Allen, has taken hold of his own music projects in a way that most artists are not able to do. Not only does he create his own music and come up with concepts for the video, but he directs and edits his work giving him the ability to be hands on every step of the way.
“With directing my own projects, I get to take the lead and channel my energy into the project as a whole rather than handing it off to someone else,” said Weston Allen. “My music projects are really just me. It’s not as much about the music as it is the whole picture, and that’s important to me as a director.”
The artist and director, who is originally from Lawrence, Kansas, uses his experience growing up in the city’s thriving music scene to allow for his more experimental sound. Allen integrates this with his educational background in film, editing, and art as a way to express himself. His musical projects have also become a way to challenge his creative abilities in a self-assigned exercise. Allen’s directing style, which is generally tongue-in-cheek and humorous but dark, still gives off the appearance of being colorful. There are plenty of contrasting elements that fit together in a pleasing way.
“I would say when I work on music projects with other people, especially with my partner Dorian Electra, I try to pair something that is dark visually with something that sounds very bright,” Allen explained. “That pairing, or vice versa, can be a lot of fun to play and experiment with.”
In Allen’s latest video, “Utopia Erotica,” we see more of this creative contrast of light and dark with the imagery and lyrics.
“Overall, it’s a pretty dark video, but the lyrics are humorous,” said Allen. “It’s kind of my take on if Weird Al was a sexologist or anthropologist. Some of the visuals are very comical. I appear in the video looking more like a cartoon character in this checkered pattern that is kitschy and camp. There are also all these goofy-looking cartoon characters in this dark landscape doing dark things like joyrides and huffing exhaust fumes over some silly tongue-in-cheek lyrics. The music is funny and fun and not too serious or dark.”
Allen’s contrast of light versus dark and humorous versus mildly sinister prompts viewers to think about the world around them in a different way. The carefully crafted video inspires a light of optimism in the darkness of all that we face today.
“I would hope to portray a hopeful optimism in a dark world or a dark sphere of thought, Allen explained. “I want to be very critical of the world that we live in, and I like my music and my visuals to act more as a mask to cope with the darkness of reality. I think I mask that with humor, and I think that’s my method of coping with that. I think that’s where the optimism comes in; it’s the humor and irony. I aim to put out a pleasant smiling face into the world.”
Allen went on to talk about some of the other subjects in his music and how these topics relate to other people. His latest EP picks at the subject of sex and intimacy in relation to the world.
“Sexuality is such a transformative experience for every single person,” said Allen. “I believe we all have different stories of going through that and how things change, grow, or how things decay. Growing up on a farm in Kansas I didn’t really have access to queer people. I had access to gay people because luckily my mother was very giving and interested in different people. Through her work as a dental hygienist, she was able to introduce me to people with different lifestyles, sexualities, and genders. She had to meet people every day, and because she’s a genuinely nice person she knew all of them really well. I’m really appreciative of that, and then going to college and meeting different people expanded my mind. The music project as a whole has always been about me and understanding my queerness and navigating the world and its absurdities.”
Allen’s work not only helps him express himself and navigate his own queerness, but it helps others explore different parts of their own identity and encourages being confident enough to put themselves out there.
“I believe for any queer artist they hope one of the sticking points is you can help other people who want to express themselves,” Allen continued. “You can also help give confidence to others, especially younger people, by sharing your work. All the people that I usually work with, who are also the people in the checkered suits and masks are generally people who aren’t performers. More often than not these people are usually queer because that’s who is mostly in my circle, but these people consist of editors, people who are normally behind the camera, or who have a desk job. It’s fun to see how they let loose and express themselves. They have more confidence when they have that anonymity or that oneness as a collective. I hope to more of this with my work where I don’t put as much focus on me as an individual but more as a collective.”
“The masks really are some untapped way for people to relax a little bit. There’s nine of us and we even lose track of who’s who,” Allen continued. “You don’t have to be concerned about who sees you in the video or who sees you on set. It sounds corny, but I do believe that we are all able to be performers, have fun, and express ourselves with our bodies through performance or dance or whatever you would like to do. Certain societal structures tend to keep us in place and prohibit us from letting loose or, to a certain degree, from having fun. I want to let these people have their spotlight moment.”
other than just having fun and being in the moment, Allen also had a few words of encouragement for other artists looking into creating art for themselves.
“Always be yourself and do you. Even if you fail in the end you’ll be pleased that you were true to yourself.”