Anjali Kamat’s work is surreal, dreamy, flowy, crayony, vulnerable, sad sumptuousness. From her comics to her latest animated videos, there’s this signature wistfulness, a satisfying woe that releases itself from your body in the form of heavy sighs of relief upon experiencing her work. It’s hard to explain the feels of her art but in this interview she takes us through some of her music video animation projects, talking about a different aspect of each one.
Getting a project - Taba Chake, Walk with me
So the funny thing is, I had never made an animated music video before I made it for a client. In the summer of 2018, I took some classes on Skillshare about animated illustrations and started to make some GIFs on Photoshop. I had posted a few on instagram, and the reception from my then pretty small audience, was good. One day, Taba Chake
messaged me on Instagram. I didn’t know anything about him, but he asked to speak to me regarding some work. I was only a third year student at the time, so I was eager to take any job opportunity that came to me. He had seen my small GIF animations, and asked if I would be interested in making a music video for one of his upcoming song releases.
I was a bit shocked because I had never made any video longer than a 5 second GIF, but I was also really excited. I would be taking a chance on him, a musician I had not heard about and hadn’t even heard his music yet - and he was definitely taking a chance on me - me never having made a single video before. But we decided to go for it, I heard and loved the track - and then it snowballed into what it’s become. I remember learning the aftereffects software while doing the project itself.
But people still tell me that Walk With Me is their favourite video I’ve made, which is something. This project was what really got me into animating in the first place, and gave me a lot of visibility too after that - It has around 4M views on Youtube now, which I could have never anticipated at the time - I don’t think Taba had really, either. It’s led to most of my following projects too, which is great.
Colours, Characters and Story - When We Feel Young by When Chai Met Toast
This was my next project, and for a band I definitely knew about! When Achyuth from the band DM’d me, I was really stunned and also really intimidated, because this project would be on an even bigger scale than the last one. I was in my final year of college at this time - but living at home because the Pandemic had just started. This video all happened during the first few months of lockdown, as I worked on it alongside my college graduation project!
For When Chai Met Toast
’s When We Feel Young, I was given a hero colour of sorts by the band’s art director, Malavika. It was the type of shade of blue I would have never thought to pick myself, because my usual colours were really warm - but I tried to build something that felt comfortable to me, while building around the blue, and came up with a palette I was happy with. The result actually turned out to be visually quite different and, I feel, richer than something I would have made had I not had this constraint, and I'm really grateful for it.
As for the story, I built it around what felt most natural with the story of the lyrics - I wanted to keep it simple and heartwarming like the song. I decided to tell the story of a couple just doing regular things, at two different stages in their lives - to switch between these two couples and show how these feelings of love and care and youthfulness are common and stay the same at all ages. Achyuth and Ashwin (the band members I was in touch with during the production) liked the idea as well, and I then developed the storyboard. With all the projects I’ve done, I’ve been really lucky to have clients who trust my vision and let me really take the wheel and see where it goes.
For my characters in this song and even generally, I prefer to have them look like they’re regular people, Indian, brown-skinned and not too beautiful or perfect - looking.
I like to add some Easter eggs in each music video too, wherever possible - in the scene with the fridge in the house, the magnets are images of the band as young children, and one is the album artwork. I added fireflies in one of the scenes, which is the name of one of the band’s famous songs. Small details like that!
Illustration and Animation - Shehron Ke Raaz
For Prateek Kuhad’s Shehron Ke Raaz, I was doing 4 lyric videos for each of the tracks from his 2021 album - all on my own! Again, this was an incredible opportunity, massive scale and particularly special because I used to listen to his music all the time in my first few years of college, and I remember me and my friends used to gush whenever he dropped a new video - I remember the Tum Jab Pas one especially had us all floored - and now I was asked to do 4 whole lyric videos for him just a couple of years afterwards. Illustrating and animating this, although on a really tight deadline, was a joy, because again, I was really able to take it in whichever direction I felt right. I picked colours which I really love myself, and it just really went with his music naturally. And this time, since I was sort of working on an extended album of 4 songs and not just 1, I had to think about having each one be visually different, but also feel like a group or a collective set. In terms of illustration, my style is quite set and I just draw however it feels natural to me.
Animation is not something I have really learned properly in an academic sense - I’ve picked it up from different courses here and there online, and some during an exchange semester in Switzerland - and
I’ve built up a sort of Frankenstein version of doing it myself - but I like it because it has sort of become like my own style, very particular to me.
I sometimes even feel self-conscious about this - like I’m not really animating the RIGHT way, I’m not a real animator - but I feel what I’m doing works for me, and people respond to it well enough - and I’m constantly finessing it with each new project I do, so I’m okay with feeling unsure sometimes.
How central is music to your process? What does it mean to you?
Like I’d mentioned, I usually play music most of the time while I draw. It helps when I get into that state of flow with my work, and is a trusty companion through the lengthy animation process. Usually while illustrating, I listen to lots of different music constantly - it’s really good to fall into the groove especially when I have to draw things repeatedly for the animated bits. But while I’m editing and compiling my clips, it’s only the music track itself playing- over and over and over! The only downside is, this does make it harder to listen to it for a while after the completion of the project :) But then it passes.
Tell us a bit about what you've been through the last couple of years? Has music helped you get through some of the tougher times?
I started working properly full time as soon as the pandemic started. I was in a college setting before, with the company of friends in the background as I worked. While at home and working alone, music helped not let the isolated feeling get too bad. It also actually helps me when I hit those moments of art block - if I play some music, I usually get into the rhythm and am able to draw and get through it.
It’s quite insane because I had never really planned on entering the music scene at all with my work, it just sort of happened. I loved watching animated music videos of course, but I thought that the most I would ever do would be to make album art - but this whole new avenue of music videos has proved to be quite vast and very fulfilling at times.
Lastly, 3 indie tracks you'd recommend.
Fire by Prateek Kuhad
Alaw by Dot.
Ghost by Parekh and Singh