Fred Armisen on Directing Music Videos, Why He Loves Red Hot Chili Peppers
As a drummer, comedian and ace musical satirist, Fred Armisen is a natural fit for directing music videos. But the new clip he helmed for Swedish indie-pop artist El Perro del Mar, which accompanies her dreamy cover of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik favorite “Breaking the Girl,” is more sweet than silly. The video, premiering below, starts out as a straightforward document of the mundane lives of L.A. parking attendants, then takes a turn for the bizarre when Armisen himself shows up in a valet’s uniform. Attempting to return a customer’s key, he journeys all the way to Iceland.
Armisen is currently having a moment as a video director: He also recently directed a clip for Neil Michael Hagerty and the Howling Hex’s “Mountain.” The comedian is a longtime fan of El Perro del Mar, the musical alias of Sarah Assbring, and she tapped him to oversee her latest video.
While “Breaking the Girl” hasn’t yet appeared on an El Perro del Mar album, it’s a song that’s very special to Assbring. “There’s something in my heart that hurts every time I hear it, and it reminds me of my first true love,” she says of the RHCP classic. “The song was kind of the way into my last album Pale Fire, which in the end kind of had the theme of teenage love and angst.” The video appears in advance of a new El Perro del Mar album, KoKoro, out in the fall.
Rolling Stone reached Armisen in L.A. to talk about his connection to El Perro del Mar’s music, how it prepared him for his time on SNL and his lengthy history with the Chili Peppers.
How did you become a fan of El Perro del Mar?
There used to be a show in New York City that was a music-video show called New York Music, and they played this animated video for “God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)” – almost her first single. I fell in love with that song right away, and that video. Over the years, El Perro del Mar became this artist that every record that came out, I just loved it. El Perro del Mar sort of accompanied my time at SNL. To concentrate and focus, I would play the bass to one of her songs from her third album. It was a meditative thing. When Pale Fire came out, that album was a big friend of mine. I’ve just always purely been a fan of El Perro del Mar.
How did El Perro del Mar’s music help you when you were on SNL?
There’s something very opposite-of-self-conscious about her music. When I listen to it, I don’t feel like I have to be really cool to listen to it. It hits me in a sweet spot. It’s kind of like someone telling you to be calm. … It’s romantic and dreamy music. It fully works on me.
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