Danny Elfman and Trent Reznor have joined forces to deliver a brand new version of “True”, one of the standout singles from Elfman’s acclaimed new double album Big Mess [ANTI- / Epitaph Records]. Released today, the reimagined single showcases a sonic collision of two of music’s most iconic artists, melding vocals from Reznor and Elfman with vicious industrial percussion, cinematic piano flares and walls of feedback.
“This is the first duet/collaboration I’ve ever done in my life, so to do it with Trent was a real surprise and a treat,” says Elfman. “He’s always been a big inspiration to me, not to mention he has one of my all-time favorite singing voices.”
Today, Elfman has also debuted a new music video for the reimagined single of “True.” Directed by Aron Johnson, who contributed visual effects to the Sarah Sitkin-directed music video for the album version of “True,” the piece features warped imagery and retro VHS aesthetics that capture the song’s intensity. Combining segments of Sitkin’s archived footage along with brand new 3D modeling, the visual serves as a remix in itself of the original music video, reinterpreted through the eyes of Aron.
Following a series of dynamic singles and aesthetically groundbreaking videos, Elfman released Big Mess in June, his first solo record in thirty-seven years. Clocking in at 18 tracks, the sprawling double album finds the 4x Oscar nominated, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning composer breaking bold new ground as both a songwriter and a performer. Joined on the album by drummer Josh Freese (Devo, Weezer, The Vandals), bassist Stu Brooks (Dub Trio, Lady Gaga, Lauryn Hill), and guitarists Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails, Guns N’ Roses) and Nili Brosh (Tony MacAlpine, Paul Gilbert), the project has garnered widespread praise since its release.
‘Big Mess’ was almost entirely created spontaneously during quarantine in 2020. The album began as an experiment for Elfman, as he wanted to combine aggressive rock band and orchestral strings in a way that had not been heavily explored. What ensued was an ambitious project that draws on a dystopian palette of distorted electric guitars, industrial synthesizers and orchestral elements.
The songs on ‘Big Mess’ combine both harmonically complex arrangements and simple high energy driving music with biting, acerbic wit as they reckon with the chaos and confusion of the modern world. And while the anger, frustration, and isolation of it all is palpable in his delivery, ‘Big Mess’ is about more than simply blowing off steam. In making the space to truly sit with his emotions and write without limitations, Elfman achieved a kind of artistic liberation on the record that had been eluding him for decades, rediscovering his voice and reinventing himself all at once in the process.
These feelings of anger, angst and frustration that permeate ‘Big Mess’ are explored in the album’s artwork and music videos as well, which push the boundaries between art and technology and each feature Danny in distinct ways. For the cover artwork Elfman was 3D scanned and transformed into a grotesque looking digital sculpture by Sarah Sitkin. Using CGI, 3D technology, motion capture and artificial intelligence, each music video was uniquely made and are inextricable from the songs that inspired them. Led overall by Elfman’s creative director Berit Gwendolyn Gilma, each of the video’s directors – Aron Johnson (“Happy”), Jesse Kanda (“Sorry”), Sven Gutjahr (“Love In The Time of Covid”), Petros Papahadjopoulos (“Kick Me”), Sarah Sitkin (“True”), Sam & Andy Rolfes (“Insects”) – have created individual statements that shape a diverse but cohesive whole.
‘Big Mess’ is out now via ANTI- / Epitaph Records and is available on all digital streaming platforms here.
Artwork Courtesy of Sarah Sitkin