Brooklyn-based Lizzi Akana directed “Retreat!” for Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.

After Jones had finished writing and recording the song, she learned that she had cancer and subsequently had to cancel her album release and tour to undergo surgery. Now that she’s fully recovered, the theme of the song is more poignant than before, and Akana’s new video announces her triumphant return to the music scene.

It’s great fun to watch the video, in large part due to Lizzi’s ability to merge a slick commercial style with an indie filmmaker’s spirit of experimentation. She wrote about her eclectic grab bag of influences for the project:

Aesthetically, we took inspiration from many sources. Daptone is an independent label whose sound harkens back to classic soul of the late 60’s and 70’s, so we started our research by pouring over classic psychedelic animation that popularized that era. We took notes from films such as Yellow Submarine, Fantastic Planet, The Point, The Wall, and Heavy Metal, but also looked to individual artists outside of that sphere. We were particularly inspired by the work of Alan Aldridge, the theatricality of Busby Berkeley, and the backgrounds of Eyvind Earle, specifically his strong silhouetted designs in Sleeping Beauty. We even did a fair amount of research into Greek mythology and fairy tales to bring larger themes into play. By pulling inspiration from many influences, we strove to create a unique world that would ultimately strengthen Sharon’s mythology.

Below is a making-of progression. Plenty more behind-the-scenes stuff at the Slanted Studios website:

Director: Lizzi Akana
Art Director: Erin Kilkenny
Technical Director: Michelle Higa Fox
Additional Design: Josh Goodrich
Animation: Josh Goodrich, Shixie Shi, Tim Beckhardt, David Hobizal, Leah Shore, Gabriel Pulecio, Nika Offenbac
Watercolor Animation: Leeanne Brennan
FX Animation: Matt Timms
Production Company: Slanted Studios
Executive Producer: Michelle Higa Fox

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