Vance Kotrla, the frontman of indie-folk purveyors Sci-Fi Romance, joins us for this exclusive guest blog to detail the creative process behind the band’s recent single, “Voices”, and the corresponding, comic-book-based video. Set to the backdrop of the heartfelt, moody tune, the video scans panel to panel through a custom comic book created by Vance and collaborator Mark Landry entirely for the occasion. The LA-based trio dropped their newest record, Dreamers & Runaways, in October and, with the group’s creative process so uniquely piqued, we are stoked to give Vance a different kind of centre-stage opportunity:
“As an independent artist, there’s so often a tug-of-war between the story you want to tell and the canvas available to you on which to tell it. On the last Sci-Fi Romance album, we had what was essentially a break-up/kiss-off song called ‘Goodbye at the End of the World’, and I had a vision for a video in which two people were experiencing this shared, painful, very human experience of the end of a relationship, but at the very worst possible time — during an alien invasion. Naturally. But how do you tell that story for zero dollars? I decided to teach myself computer animation and do it that way. But that was a grueling process that I knew I didn’t have it in me to do again.
Sci-Fi Romance artfully allow their “Voices” to be heard. Checkout the above-mentioned video for yourself.
Enter the new album, and the song “Voices’. As I sat with the lyrics, and as the garbage fire of today’s news cycle continued to be fed daily by new gasoline, a story for the video began to take shape in my mind. But it was another sprawling narrative, like ‘Goodbye’ had been. It had masses of lost people following a shadowy, fear-mongering leader, and a small band of people willing to stand up to him. I couldn’t animate that, but I got more and more attached to the story as I tried to find a way to tell it.
I’m a big fan of old stuff — old folk music, old movies, old design, old comics — and so I knew that the way we wound up with a comics code, essentially industry self-censorship, was in part because EC Comics published a sci-fi comic in 1953 called Judgment Day with a black astronaut as the protagonist in a story about equality and inclusion. Thinking of that was the spark that made me seize on this ‘Voices’ story as a potential comic book, and so I reached out to a good friend of mine, Mark Landry, who created the comic Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water (published by Titan Comics).
Mark loved the idea and was immediately on board. So, he drew the book, I coloured it, and we wound up with a video that I think captures the spirit of the song, and tells a story of positivity and inclusion in a way that was out-of-the-box but still something we could actually accomplish. I’m very proud of the end result.”
The Dreamers & Runaways album was self-released on October 19, 2018.