I want my M[ies] TV

March 5, 2010

The 124th anniversary of architectural great Mies van der Rohe's birth is March 25th, so I'll be blogging Mies stuff here and there throughout the month.

Today's offering is an ingenious Mies music video by TV/video producer and one-time Chicagoan Ted Kamp. Kamp did the video a couple of years ago and the song is catchy as all get-out, I must warn you.‚  I did an email Q&A with Kemp two years ago for my old Urban Observer blog. Here's what we said:

LB: What moved you to create this work?

TK: There aren't enough rockin' songs about architecture. The master builders of the recent past have really come up with some colossal innovations and were often some mighty intriguing characters, if not outright nutjobs"¦ I studied architecture a bit in college and I've stayed an enthusiast. For some reason, these tunes started popping up in my head in the course of reading about various architects and schools of architecture. I've been working in television for the past 12 years in a spectacularly unsatisfying career. I have decided to put my accumulated skills (writing/producing/directing/camera/editing/composing, etc) and quirky passions (architecture, etc) to use by creating my own little films to put out into the unspoiled artistic wilderness of the internet.

LB: Why Mies? I mean when you've got "Louie Kahn, Louie Kahn, let me rockya Louie Kahn, let me rockya that's all I wanna do..."

TK: The Mies song has to have been with me for about 15 years. Architects like Mies catch my imagination because of the level of innovation and subsequent influence they have. I lived in Chicago for about ten years and I found not only his buildings fascinating, but also how Chicago's look transitioned through him. People in Windy City are actually more aware of architectural style because of Mies, Sullivan, Wright, etc. I remember some Second City sketches where Helmut Jahn was a punchline, which I thought unique. I chose to do the Mies tune for some practical reasons, including the availability of public domain images I could use, and‚ buildings here in LA that I could shoot that are very directly derivative of his work.

LB: You're the singer, the songwriter and the guy in the video? You do some mean shimmying and high-kicking in there.

TK: I wrote and produced the song by myself using a midi keyboard to create various sounds, chords, etc. and loads of loops. I am the singer (and choreographer, for‚ what that's worth.)

LB: Do you have any other architects in mind for future songs and videos? I would imagine the Saarinens -- either one -- would be good. And I take this time to renew my plug for Louis Kahn.

TK: I am at work on heaps of other architects. I like ones that are slightly less well-known than the superstars like Wright and Gehry (although I hear there are some hot selling t-shirts that say "[Screw] Frank Gehry" --there's a rock song if I ever heard it.) I drive around the Los Angeles area a great deal, almost always with a camera or two in my car, so I keep collecting footage to use. Putting the songs together and editing takes a bunch of time, so it's been slow going. I also have a busy, schleppy life, what with the wife/kids/house/soul-crushing career/ mid-life ennui and all. But I vow that you will see more videos very soon, as this is apparently My Destiny. I'm even getting requests on YouTube, like Louis Kahn and Hans Poelzig. Go figure.

LB. I can't wait to see more. Any parting words?

TK: Say hi to everyone in Chicago. I miss them, but not the winters.