Brooklyn artists Mitchell Leonard and Haisi Hu team up for a breathtaking collaboration
Premiered via Spill Magazine
For Music Fans Of: Mike Doughty, Leonard Cohen, James Blake, Jamie Cullen
For Art Fans Of: Henry Selick, Kirsten Lepore, The Brothers Quay, Janie Geiser, Faith Hubley
BROOKLYN, NY | December 7, 2017 – Artists of all muses seek to elicit a feeling, a response, or reaction from their art. “Come Downstairs”, a video by musician Mitchell Leonard and animator Haisi Hu, which will do just that – raising the hairs on your nape, with breathtaking beauty and a myriad of emotions brought forth in a multi-dimensional art collaboration. Led by a piano-jazz ballad and the moving vocals of Mitchell Leonard, the music is brought to life in a ethereal other-world full of mysterious creatures and mirages, designed by animator and claymation artist Haisi Hu. The video premiered on Spill Magazine earlier this week.
With scenes inspired by Max Ernst’s Europe After the Rain and Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, “Come Downstairs” explores the moment before death – examining the character’s longing, fear, and numbness. “Although the piece resonates with themes of crossing through, it also imparts a feeling of connection to a life-giving source,” shared Leonard. “This is, without a doubt, the most emotionally intense work I have been a part of…there are worlds below the surface of every layer here. Haisi created alien landscapes to reflect the character’s feeling of displacement, and I used an undercurrent of sonic textures to give voice to his pain and awakening love for the world he sees in flashback.”
The video took over a year to produce, with a number of challenges for the team. “It’s been an intensive, elaborate process, with many technical and conceptual obstacles to overcome,” said Hu. From deadlines to budgetary restrictions and unexpected complications, the process was laborious – involving over 100 pounds of clay, and over 2000 cells of hand drawn animation.
The music of “Come Downstairs” was recorded in part by Mitchell Leonard’s good friend and songwriting partner John Creasey, who passed away in early 2016; the video is dedicated to him. Leonard shared, “It seemed only right to dedicate this piece to John. He was an extreme believer in the overwhelming power that music has in exploring spirituality. He loved the more mysterious and elusive elements of the art world, those that were the hardest to define with language.”
The single “Come Downstairs” is available for purchase on Bandcamp now and will be available for stream and purchase on Spotify, iTunes and all major digital retailers tomorrow. Join the artists for a video release party at Our Wicked Lady in Brooklyn, NY this Sunday, December 10 at 6pm. The event will feature a display of figures and photos from the video, a Q&A session with Haisi Hu, and live performances by Mitchell Leonard, Rachel Gavaletz, Rich Crescenti and others. Full event details can be found here. Be sure to follow both artists social media pages for behind the scenes photos and additional special content.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Mitchell Leonard (musician)
Mitchell Leonard is a Brooklyn-based pianist, composer, and songwriter. His childhood comprised afternoons at the piano learning Gershwin preludes, and late nights quietly padding out of his room to listen to his father play drums with his jazz combo. He studied Jazz and Classical composition and performance all throughout his youth. During his teenage years, he worked as an accompanist for traveling theater companies. Since then, he has recorded several of his own works, played on countless others, and toured extensively throughout the United States, performing at venues from the Troubadour in Los Angeles to New York’s Webster Hall.
Haisi Hu (director & animator)
For over twenty years Haisi Hu has been making and teaching animation. She dedicates her life to preserving and expanding traditional techniques, such as claymation and cell animation. She believes that these are disappearing art forms whose tactile qualities and unique motion still breathe magic.
Hu was born in China and immigrated to the United States in 1992. She earned her BFA at the Cooper Union School of Art, New York. She teaches animation at the Outreach Program at Cooper Union. Her stop-motion animations feature elaborate sets and dreamlike landscapes. Hu has been awarded two NYSCA grants, a NYFA grant, and a Franklin Furnace Fellowship (2013), among others. Her animations have been exhibited in numerous places, such as at Burlington City Arts Gallery, VT, and BRIC Gallery, Brooklyn. Her work has also screened widely including in the Squeaky Wheel Animation Festival in Buffalo, NY. Hu has traveled extensively, exploring other cultures and arts around the world. She hopes her artwork can help to conserve the planet.