Duck Sauce never thought their "Big Bad Wolf" video would be deemed too extreme for YouTube – but it's been restricted to viewers over the age of 18.
"It ended up being a little bit more outrageous and disgusting than we thought," director Keith Schofield tells Rolling Stone. Still, he defends the vulgar, viral masterpiece that he created for A-Trak and Armand Van Helden's group. "It's not [Aphex Twin's] 'Windowlicker' or something," he says. "That was a disturbing video."
The video, which was released on Rolling Stone on October 24th, follows two men as they go to a club, pick-up and hook-up — with the DJs' heads between their legs. "My mom was like, 'It's funny, but it makes me uncomfortable. I can't show it to your father,'" A-Trak says.
Meanwhile, Kanye West praised it for pushing the envelope. "You took a risk as an artist to piss out of your mouth," he told A-Trak over e-mail.
"The song just sounded like swagger," Schofield says of his inspiration. "I had this visual image of these guys walking down the street with massive, four-foot cocks." Schofield – who previously directed videos for Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck, BPA (Fatboy Slim and David Byrne), Chromeo (of which A-Trak's brother is a member), and Diesel's "SFW XXX" campaign — initially pitched three ideas for the video, but it was his "crotch faces" concept that spoke to the DJs. (His other pitches involved a house party concept and a teen fad parody — think "Galvanize" by the Chemical Brothers, where, instead of "clowning," kids were "wolfing.")
He originally planned on casting bearded actors as the crotch-faces. "[Schofield] was like, 'Are you sure you want to do this? It's going to be really gross to shoot,'" A-Trak recalls. "But we felt like if we're going to do this video, we've got to go all the way."
And all the way they went. "I've never seen, or even heard of, another artist going to this length for a video," Schofield says.
The video above features behind-the-scenes footage of the shoot. "We weren't sure what it'd be like to actually be on the set with all this skin," A-Trak says in the clip.
Some CGI was used in post-production, but the heads between the actors' legs were real — a little too real, even. To get the face-in-crotch effect, A-Trak and Van Helden donned green-screen jumpsuits that were removed using the magic of post-production, and spent two days on their hands and knees with actors straddling their necks.
"I'm trying to erase that from my memory," he says. "It was hygienic! Everything was protected. Let's leave it at that...I thought that was going to be sort of like 'Keep the secret to the grave' kind of thing."
Like the video, the song itself is a departure for Duck Sauce, which is set to release their first album, tentatively titled Quack, next spring. "When we first started sending out 'Big Bad Wolf' out to people … people were like, 'This is your follow-up to 'Barbra Streisand?' Are you serious?'" A-Trak says.
"Big Bad Wolf" has no samples — a Duck Sauce first — and has already been remixed by DJs including Gesaffelstein and Dada Life.
Despite the buzz, A-Trak is skeptical "Big Bad Wolf" is the next "Barbra Streisand." "We never thought Barbra Streisand would be as big as it was, [and] maybe the universe will prove me wrong, " he says, "[But] I have a hard time imagining 'Big Bad Wolf' playing at a Bar Mitzvah."
Chromeo: Five Questions and a Fresh Sax Playlist
Who do you think is an important musician that most people have never heard of before?
P-Thugg: For me it’s Roger Troutman. My whole career is based on copying him, whether it’s his guitar playing, his talk box, or playing his songs or his drum sounds. Everything. He is the one who created and produced all the music for Zapp.
Dave 1: People know about him but not enough people know about him. They know him as the guy in the Tupac song, but they should know him for the real sort of obscure ’70s tragic genius that he is. And I guess another one for me would be Shuggie Otis; again, some people know him, but most people don't. He is still considered obscure. And he was kind of a predecessor to Prince. Somewhere in between Jimi Hendrix and Prince. He was like a virtuoso guitar player and a really young musical prodigy and he kind of sang like Prince. Apparently, at one point, The Rolling Stones asked him to join their band and he said no and he kept doing his own music and he did just a limited number of songs and he stopped. He just quit. And so I like him a lot.
If you had access to any record in the world, what would you listen to right now?
D1: The thing is that we have access to every record in the world. It’s called the internet. So it is not even like a remote possibility.
P-T: You can go on the internet and listen to anything you want.
D1: Nowadays, you can even listen to the separated tracks of every record. They have those for some classic records too.
Which album or artist do you most associate with your childhood?
P-T: Michael Jackson - Bad.
D1: Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction Actually, no... I've got earlier ones. Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, but that was from my parents collection and my parents played that for me all the time when I was a baby. But then the first cassette I bought with my own money was Appetite for Destruction.
We hope people are _____ when listening to our music
P-T: Yeah, or having sex.
We were thinking about _____ when we wrote music for the new album
P-T: Each other.
Whether it’s serving as Kanye West’s touring DJ or producing catchy club jams with production partner Armand Van Helden, Alain Macklovitch (A-Trak to us) has had a pretty stellar career. Oh, wait, dude isn’t even 30. Damn.
Born in Montreal speaking French, Macklovitch was raised in a household with deft culinary taste. His mother (“an amazing cook”) made Moroccan salads and raised her family to respect mealtime. There was no dinner in front of the TV. These tenets of food have stuck with him, as we found out in a recent exchange.
In terms of food, what is your favorite city to visit while on tour?
I love going to Paris. I grew up speaking French so I have a certain kinship to the culture there and I just think it's a beautiful place. I have some very close friends there too. I usually stay at L'Hotel Amour and the restaurant there is one of the best in the city, in my opinion.
Favorite cooking shows on TV?
I don't watch TV but sometimes I see Guy Fieri's shows on the plane and I find his selection of shirts interesting.
What are three staples in your refrigerator?
Hummus, coconut water, fresh fruit.
Last meal you made at home was…
A sandwich? I can't cook.
What's the first food to hit your lips in the morning?
Toast with Nutella.
What are your food or drink requirements for shows?
Highlights include: hummus and pita, cashews, fruit platter, chocolate bars, beer, champagne, water. I did a gig tonight where they also gave me a gigantic turkey drumstick in my dressing room. I'm not sure where that came from. Looked like it came straight out of the Flintstones.
Do you have any pre-show food rituals or habits?
My main concern with a pre-show meal is to make sure it doesn't knock me out (or mess me up) before my set. I don't have a specific type of meal, I just try to keep it light and relatively safe. I can be an adventurous eater, but not before a gig. And you don't want to eat right before you go on.
Earliest cooking memory as a child?
I remember trying to bake a chocolate cake as a child and failing miserably. It never rose! I was always interested in cooking as a child though. I used to watch my mom in the kitchen a lot. She's an amazing cook and she used to think I would pick up on it because I'd ask a lot of questions. But then I discovered DJing at age 13 and gave up on any type of culinary ambition.
If you're eating after 3AM, you're likely eating...
A kebab or pizza.
What's your favorite music to cook to, or to have in the background while eating?
I rarely have music on during a meal. You know what I find really weird? When people have the TV on. I think mealtime is all about good conversation. If I do put on some music it has to be smooth like some Fleetwood Mac or maybe some Stevie Wonder.
Who parties harder: chefs or DJs?
I have never hung out with a chef. Are they closet party animals?
If you get hungry during a set, what kinds of food do you snack on that won't get the equipment all greasy?
I can't eat during a set--my style of DJing is too active, I'm always doing something. I guess I could snack on some celery or something.
A-Trak looks back on four years of Fool's Gold Records
Alain Macklovitch is a small business owner, prolific hotel reviewer, world-champion DJ, electro house producer and mentor. He's made his name in all of those fields under the moniker A-Trak, and when Spinner caught up with the French Canadian, he had plenty of reasons to be happy. We chatted with the turntablist and former Kanye tour DJ at the four-year anniversary party for Fool's Gold Records, the label Macklovitch and fellow DJ Nick Catchdubs started. He gave us some insights into what goes into curating the label that launched Kid Cudi and Danny Brown and plays home to Kid Sister, Armand van Helden and A-Trak's own Duck Sauce.
What surprised you most about the past four years?
There have been a lot of surprises with Fool's Gold. The events are where there are the most surprises, because the events are where someone will show up and you'll just be like "Oh, OK, Drake's here." When Kanye showed up at our third anniversary last year at Brooklyn Bowl, he wasn't supposed to perform, he was just coming to support CyHi. And then the next thing you know he performed, for the first time, all those G.O.O.D. Friday songs before 'Dark Fantasy' dropped.
But everything else, we find music that we like and we get behind it. We're happy when it goes well, we're happy when we get to open a shop, we're happy when the songs break even further than we anticipated. But a lot of the success of Fool's Gold has been off of good relationships and working with the right people at the right time. And the community side of the label gets enhanced by all that. That's the magic of what we've done.
Is that what you're most proud of? The relationships?
To be honest, I'm most proud of the consistency. I'm not being boastful but we put out records which are consistently high quality, have strong artwork and we continue to challenge ourselves. And also having it reach further than we ever think. I remember when [Fool's Gold creative director] Dust La Rock had an art show two years ago and P. Diddy was tweeting about it. When stuff reaches culturally deeper than we anticipated of off hard work, high-quality standards and good taste – because at the end of the day this is a highly curated label.
That helps people be less cynical, because a lot of people may see a Diddy tweet and think someone paid him or it is in his self-interest to tweet about it.
Yeah, I don't even know Diddy like that.
What is it like with guys like Danny Brown or these younger acts to have you as a boss? Is it a mentorship, or is it "prove yourself?"
No, when we sign artists, we stay very involved with the development. That's one of the things that Fool's Gold can offer that a major label can't. When there's an artist that's being wooed by labels and a major is offering him a whole bunch of cash and Fool's Gold is offering him probably much less money but a much more credible brand, a big part of why they end up choosing us is the development. Majors can't afford to sign artists that need development, but we're totally willing and happy to sign an artist that's practically unknown and help them fine-tune their art.
When we signed Kid Cudi he was completely unknown. 'Day N Nite' was a good song, we gave it to the right people, got Crookers to remix it and next think you know it's platinum. Things like that make us trust our taste and instincts more.
There's also such a family side to the label that if someone's an a-----e, we're not going to sign them, just like that. There have been people that we've met with that we chat after the meeting and decide we can't picture ever wanting to hang out with. And then it's like f--- it.
Do you feel like you've officially made it as a label boss, or do you feel like you still have something to prove?
I always feel like I have something to prove, as much with my DJing as with Fool's Gold. I wouldn't have been DJing for 15 years if I didn't have that sort of insatiable fire in me that says, "No, not enough, you have to keep going." I'm happy when things go well, but I know that things can always be better.
Does it feel like a long time ago when you were 15 and winning DMC championships?
[Laughs] Yeah, certain things went by in a blink. Four years of Fool's Gold went by in a blink, even that stint with Kanye went by in a blink. Each chapter went back fast, but when you go back to the very first one, which is when I won the DMC's, yes it feels like a long time ago. I'm 29, that was when I was 15, so it's pretty much half of my life away.
Who are you most proud of this year?
All of them, but this year Danny Brown is one of the signings that has been quickly exploding and gelled really fast and really well. But I'm just as proud as and excited about all the signings. There are guys like Party Supplies who isn't even out yet and I think he's going to be huge. That's someone that we're really developing.
But Danny was sort of ready to go, he had put out many albums before and all we had to do was help curate the 'XXX' album a bit more and that worked really well. He's the Fool's Gold artist who was most talked about for 2011. And even for him it's just beginning.
And if there was any act, either big or who you just heard about that you could sign, who would it be?
The Weeknd. C'mon.
Is there anyone you wish you had spotted that felt like a Fool's Gold artist?
No, I don't really think that way because we have a pretty full roster. And I don't feel like I'm really missing anything on the label. Part of what's exciting with us is that we don't even know what we're looking for when we're A&R'ing, whereas certain labels and big labels are like "we need someone like this."
And you guys don't do something that is a pitfall of major labels where you think, "OK, we found Danny Brown, let's go find five more."
Right, and if another label had a Danny Brown, we wouldn't think, "Let's go get a guy with straightened hair." Do you remember when every label was trying to sign a white rapper back when Eminem first blew up? It was literally like, here's Hard Whites, here's this guy.
We're looking for artists who surprise us.
Chromeo were amazing last night, wish I was going again tonight!