The duo that makes up Pop Noir are twin brothers Joe and Luke McGarry who have been entranced with music since the mid-’00s. Not only do these guys make synth-infused, indie pop, they’re award-winning visual artists, and have made animated shorts for Guster, Hoodie Allen and Viceland, including the visual aesthetic of FYF Fest and Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme.
The duo’s latest single, “White Jazz,” is their follow-up to “Don’t Fool Yourself,” released in 2015. With “White Jazz,” the video features the guys as pedestrians taking in their breathtaking surroundings. The video was directed by the Fantastic Heat Brothers. The brothers chatted with us about their love of Tokyo culture, what they’re doing with their music well into 2019, their work with visuals in various art forms and so much more.
You guys shot “White Jazz,” your latest single in the middle of Shibuya…what about this place drew you in to shoot your music video there?
Luke and Joe McGarry: To be honest, it was the film Lost In Translation that convinced us we needed to go there. Every shot in the movie was so cool, we’d always thought it would be a great location for a music video.
And without coming across as too “artsy”, the city looked and felt, to us, the way “White Jazz” sounded.
Have you guys always been drawn to culture in Tokyo?
Luke and Joe: In a way, yes. We’ve always wanted to visit Tokyo – it’s always struck us as such a cool, futuristic place – but I wouldn’t say we’re Japanophiles or anything. There’s a load of cool art, music and literature coming out of Japan but it seems that all you really see of that out here in the States is the anime and manga side of it, which has never really appealed to us. But we fell in love with Tokyo when we were over there and can’t wait to go back!
You guys are known for your visuals through your art and music, and have worked with quite a few artists and festivals…how do you guys approach your projects?
Luke and Joe: We look at music and art as two sides of the same coin, it’s all just self-expression. But projects will come together in different ways – sometimes we’ll start with a clear idea of what we’re trying to put out there, others it’ll just be pure experimentation that leads us down a path we weren’t really expecting. As a general rule of thumb, though, we try to keep the art side quite humorous but with a “cool” edge, and with the music we’re aiming for cool but without taking ourselves too seriously. It’s a minor distinction, but it does make a difference!
You guys worked with the Fantastic Heat Brothers for the video to “White Jazz.” How did you get connected and what was it like filming and working with them?
Luke and Joe: It was surprisingly easy… we are the Fantastic Heat Brothers! That’s our “nom de plume” for the visual art side of what we create, so we’ll use it for animation, illustration, design and, of course, music videos. It’s a little stressful being in charge of every aspect of production as well as the performance, but it’s rewarding in the end knowing we’ve put together something entirely independently.
Is an album or tour in the works for 2019?
Luke and Joe: We’re recording tons of music with an eye on releasing as much of it as possible in 2019, but we’re not sure whether we’ll be putting out an album or a series of singles and EPs. We certainly want to play as many shows as we can in the new year, though!
Who was your first concert, and do you have a favorite?
Luke and Joe: Our first proper concert was The Verve on their Urban Hymns tour, which was probably around 1998. In terms of favorite concert ever, though, that’s a tough one – we’ve been to so many! New Order are always great to see live, Underworld gigs are really exciting… and Young Fathers are probably one of the best live bands we’ve caught recently.
What was your first album on vinyl, CD and/or cassette?
Luke and Joe: The first CDs we ever bought were Beck Odelay and Air Moon Safari, and I think the first vinyl we ever purchased with our own money was Massive Attack Mezzanine. And we had Blur The Best Of… on CD, Vinyl and DVD!
We might be slightly too young to have ever purchased cassettes, but when we were little we were big fans of our dad’s copy of Michael Jackson’s “Bad.”
Which five musicians or albums would you not want to live without?
Luke and Joe: You might have noticed that we’re answering these questions as two people, so we’ve had to confer on this one. The five albums we’ve come up with though, are, in no particular order:
The Strokes Is This It, Badly Drawn Boy Hour of the Bewilderbeast, Underworld Beaucoup Fish, David Bowie Ziggy Stardust, and the soundtrack to the film 24 Hour Party People, even though that might be cheating.
Do you have a guilty music or entertainment pleasure?
Luke and Joe: We don’t necessarily believe in guilty pleasures in terms of music. Good music is good music, pop is an art form, etc. Besides, we’re of the mind that if we like it, it’s cool!
If we’re talking about television, though… we’re loving “Great British Bake Off” at the moment.