In the early-’90s Spike Jonze became the master of music videos. Weezer’s video for “Undone—The Sweater Song” may not be Jonze’s most flashy, but it’s simple execution—featuring a single shot on a steadicam filmed in big, blue room—would not only help push Weezer’s idiosyncratic songs to the mainstream, it’d inspire the multitude of single-take music videos to come. Singer Charlene Kaye—who also plays in San Fermin—decided to skew closer to homage than ever before in the video for “Honey,” which sees KAYE shooting a video that’s nearly identical to that of “Undone—The Sweater Song.”
The A.V. Club is premiering the video for “Honey,” taken from her EP of the same name which is out August 19 and available for pre-order now. The video was directed by Charlene Kaye’s sister, Liann, both of whom have a lot to say about the video’s creation, all of which can be found below the video itself.
Spike Jonze has been one of my favorite directors from a really young age, for both music videos and features. On top of that, the level to which I was obsessed with Weezer in high school was insurmountable. I had every album in my CD case, posters above my bed, and pictures of Rivers Cuomo on my binders. I think an homage to both of these ‘90s giants was going to have to come out of me at some point. And I love the story of the original video—that Weezer had to shoot a video for “Undone—The Sweater Song,” but they completely shut out all video treatments that had anything to do with sweaters. So the genius Spike Jonze pitched a treatment that was something along the lines of “What if it was a single shot of the band playing and a bunch of dogs run through the set?”
The band decided to go with this. Apparently it was a really long day of shooting, and because of the single take, they had to do it over and over until the band just got exhausted and they stopped being serious altogether.
We assigned each band member to their Weezer alter-ego, and told them to memorize what each person was doing at various points in the song. Unlike the original video, we didn’t have to bother taking the shoot seriously from the start, so apart from basic things we were imitating (halfway through the song, the bassist just gives up and sits down on the floor, the drummer starts running around his kit and up the wall at the end, Rivers only bothers to strum with one hand, etc). No one was really worried about nailing the takes. We had a lot of room to play.
Finally the dogs were the biggest question mark. We’d asked a bunch of friends if we could borrow their dogs, but didn’t have a lot of luck. Luckily, my roommate alerted me to this service in the city called “Puppy Party” where you can rent a bunch of puppies for corporate events or private parties. It was the best day ever when they arrived on set. Everyone was just so happy. We only had to do about 8 takes, but at the end of each one, the puppies would be all over the place and we had to yell to the cast and crew, “EVERYONE GRAB A PUPPY!!” Then we’d start over.
Weezer was the soundtrack to the majority of my and Liann’s awkward teenagedom, and we’ve always loved them and this video. Liann had a hand drawn portrait of Rivers Cuomo in one of her school binders, a lightning bolt guitar strap like he had, and Weezer posters all over her room.
I love that the original one-shot video was shot around 25 times - because it was so exhausting to sing the song in double speed each time (so that when the song played in regular speed, it would give the illusion of the band playing in slow motion) they just gave up and stopped taking themselves seriously. It was interesting to try and copy the movements of a band who had given up and at that point and were just messing around. We were like “Okay Elliot, here you’re going to puff out your cheeks and shake your ass.” “Okay Allen, here you’re going to sit down on the floor.” My favorite part of the take we chose is that during the bridge, a tiny puppy wanders over to Allen and he just picks it up and mouths the words of the song to it while he’s playing bass.
The only snag in the plan was that we had a really hard time finding 15 big, wild looking dogs for the shoot. So we ended up getting puppies, which nobody was upset about. But it took a while to get a good take because instead of crazily running across the screen like the dogs in the Weezer video do, they would just timidly come out of their pen, wander around aimlessly, and lick our amps and instruments. It was the most adorable problem ever.