The Vinyl District “Illuminated Dreams” Article

The music video for “Illuminated Dreams” got its own post. There is a lot of interesting inspiration and technical information about the music video in The Vinyl District Article. Check it out below:


TVD Video Premiere: Johnson & McAuley, “Illuminated Dream”
By Josh Lewellen | January 19, 2017

“It was always a fantasy of mine to make the ‘ultimate ’80s video’ (and by video, I meant VIDEO). Plus, I really wanted to learn how to do stop motion animation like INXS’s ‘Need You Tonight.’ (It took me 3 full days to do those few seconds.) When my animation buddies Steve and John Loter agreed to parody MC Skat Kat, it was the blue-screen cherry on top of the neon lit sundae of my dreams.”

Formed as a natural extension of past collaborations, Johnson & McAuley serves as the latest concoction of hit songwriter/producer Bleu and indie singer-songwriter Alexz Johnson. Having first become acquainted back in 2005 via a mutual record label (Sony), the two artists worked together on a number of projects over the past decade, with Alexz appearing on the 2015 track, “Bottom of My Heart,” from Bleu’s fifth solo album To Hell With You, and Bleu co-writing “Thank You For Breaking My Heart” on Johnson’s “Heart” EP.

Equal parts Dare-era Human League and When in Rome (whose definitive single “The Promise” lent itself well to an excellent reworking by the pair), Johnson & McAuley’s first single “Illuminated Dream” distills many of the finer elements of the New Wave tradition, which is to say that Bleu and Alexz have undergone a staggering metamorphosis from their respective power pop and acoustic backgrounds.

“When I first heard the song I instantly thought that because the song holds true to the sound of the ’80s that the video should do the same. Using only effects and stylings found in the best and worst of ’80s music videos we set out to offer a throwback. When Bleu proposed we actually record it to VHS and back into the computer for an authentic VHS feel, I knew we were on to something.”
—Gavin Michael Booth, filmmaker

Laced with driving synth lines, dream pop guitar, the never-unwelcome drum machine, and vocal alternations worthy of Philip Oakley and Susan Ann Sulley, the song along with its accompanying could-it-be-more ’80s music video, replete with VHS effects and decade-specific animations, possesses all the makings of a synthpop smash. Nevertheless, Johnson & McAuley manage to sidestep excess nostalgia by imbuing the track with a certain vibrancy that places the song both in the past and in the present.

Naturally, the video itself, centered around interspersed flashes of the performing duo, more than reflects its title. Between the dramatic over-saturation of color and the image of a floating, flower-covered head, the footage often threatens to venture into a state of pure psychedelia, only to feign malfunction and return to a steady helping of blazers and neon lights, closing with a fade into the VHS ether.

To me, “Illuminated Dream” encompasses all of my favorite sounds and vibes from the ’80s. Bleu and I felt that a song like this needed an equally nostalgic ’80s approach with filming. Having worked with Gavin in the past, we knew he was the one who could deliver what we needed with the right amount of heart and humor.
—Alexz Johnson

The Johnson & McAuley EP is in stores on vinyl and available digitally.

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