Professor Plumb’s "Pleiades" Is Brought to Life in an Epic, Animated Space Odyssey

By: Adam Cabrera

In Professor Plumb’s new music video, their psych-rock song “Pleiades” is brought to life in an epic, animated space odyssey. 

Composed by bandleader Benom Plumb and animated by Jeremy Brown, the blazing rock’n’roll instrumental is illustrated into an adventure out of the solar system and across the galaxy to the distant star cluster known as the Pleiades. 

The track, which was first released in 2018 on their Majic 12 EP, is an example of the band’s compositional side. Plumb argues, “I've always thought of myself as more of a composer, than an artist. So at this very early stage in my solo music journey, it's an important part of my overall sound and style.” 

As for the video itself, Plumb was inspired by an old astrological myth while stargazing one night at his home. “My backyard faces south,” Plumb explains, “and on the clearest winter night, the Pleiades can be seen near Orion. There's a ton of legend and mystery surrounding the Pleiades… that's when I came up with the idea for the video.” Planetary alignment, end-of-the-world prophecies, and other science fiction can be found all over Professor Plumb’s other work in songs like “Red Sky” or “Dark Star,” and this new music video is no exception. 

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Plumb took his ideas to Brown, initially picturing a fleet of alien spaceships headed home to their star in the Pleiades. However, according to Plumb, they decided to remove the ships in favor of something more visually abstract while still trying to allude to the idea of an advanced alien civilization. In place of spaceships, Brown came up with the concept of an outer space “megastructure.”

“Visually, it’s a hodgepodge of concept art from all over the internet and from some of my favorite sci-fi films, TV shows, and games,” Brown says about the music video’s final image of a Dyson sphere (a colossal space structure built to harness the energy of a star). 

Fueled by Professor Plumb’s high-energy space-rock performance, Brown describes the final cut as “a hyper-real, first-person journey to a distant part of the galaxy” and a “mysterious galactic tour guide.” 

Check out the full interview below if you’re interested in learning more about Professor Plumb, Pleiades, and the creative production behind the video. You can also check out the new video on Professor Plumb's website where you can find more of their music along with more information about the band. They’ll be performing live at Denver’s Underground Music Showcase happening July 26th to July 28th and are also planning to release a lyric video for their new song “Take That!” sometime soon.

Professor Plumb.

Professor Plumb.

In your previous work there is a big emphasis on political or societal themes like in last years Midnight Creep lyric video or this years single Red Sky. But, with Pleiades being an instrumental it seems that you’ve decided to put an emphasis on more of the space rock / psychedelic side of the band. Is this the case or does the song represent more to you as the writer? 

BP: Yes, that's definitely the case with “Pleiades.” I've always thought of myself as more of a composer, than an artist. Pleiades was an opportunity for me to display my compositional side and cosmic wonder. 

What was the reason behind naming the song “Pleiades?” And, What made you decide to produce a music video for this song in particular?

BP: Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like to travel to a constellation that can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. My backyard faces south and on the clearest winter night, the Pleiades can be seen near Orion. There's a ton of legend and mystery surrounding the Pleiades, so that sounded like a good one to visit to me. That's when I came up with the idea for the video. I listened to the song over and over with my eyes closed to try and visualize what an epic space travel video would look like. I relayed these ideas to Jeremy and he made it look even better than I imagined in my head. 

How does Pleiades compare to the rest of your catalog in terms of overall sound and style?

BP: Out of all the songs I've written, I think “Pleiades” is one of my favorites. I was always a fan of rock bands doing cool instrumentals and I had always wanted to do one myself. So at this very early stage in my solo music journey, it's an important part of my overall sound and style. I played most of the instruments on the track, so the overall sound of the recording is me. It hits all the points of my catalog so far: dark, mysterious and hopefully, keeping the listener's head bobbing. 

At the end of the video I noticed what looks like a Dyson sphere is pulled into the shot and I’m wondering what that might have to do with the song thematically? Or, just being a fan of science fiction myself, I’m curious if you have any big influences from the sci-fi genre that make their way into your music?

BP: The Dyson sphere is 100% Jeremy so I'll let him address that in more detail. I'm definitely a sci-fi nerd. The original idea of the video was to have some spaceships flying through space to go home to their star in the Pleiades. In production we removed the ships, but kept the idea of visiting a star of an advanced civilization. After talking through this idea, Jeremy came up with the "megastructure" around the starm similar to what scientists recently theorized could be surrounding a massive star observed in our galaxy. 

JB: It’s definitely inspired by a Dyson sphere, but I think a true one would completely encompass the entire star, the idea being that one could harness 100% of the star’s energy. Benom had wanted it to be clear that this star is home to an advanced civilization, and I can’t think of anything more advanced than an enormous space station surrounding a gargantuan star. Visually, it’s a hodgepodge of concept art from all over the internet, and from some of my favorite sci-fi films, TV shows, and games. The god rays and subtle flickering are definitely a nod to present day exo-planet detection techniques!

When I watch the video I can’t help but be reminded of trips to my local planetarium when I was younger and that natural fascination with outer space that most people have. How much does astronomy and maybe even astrology influence your music? And if so, has that been an interest of yours for a long time?

BP: Astronomy has been an interest of mine since I was a kid. I read and study astronomy as a personal hobby, so that has a huge influence for sure. As for astrology, I don't follow it for spiritual living, but I do have an interest in it. We see the marks of astrology all throughout history and that events have coincided when the planets and stars align into certain positions. That's basically what “Red Sky” was about, when Earth sees this dreadful winged planet in its skies, it means destruction is at hand. It's subtle, but this mysterious winged planet from Red Sky makes an appearance in the “Pleiades” video, just as we exit our solar system and before we go into light speed. 

Jeremy, have you worked on any other music videos in the past? If so, how much or how little did your previous experience influence the final product?

JB: This is the first music video I’ve worked on professionally. Earlier in my career, I did a few personal music-related projects here and there, but nothing to this scale. Music videos are a lot different than narrative film, which is primarily my background, in that the music should still take center stage and drive the visuals. Throughout the process, Benom and I wanted to make sure that the visual complexity and intensity ramped up or down based on the energy and beat of the music. I’d like to think that the video helps you hear the song more powerfully so that it makes more of an impact. Furthermore, with an instrumental song like “Pleiades,” I think it’s especially powerful to give the listener an idea of what inspired the music in the first place.

How involved were you with developing the idea for the video? Or, how much of the video was your own creative input compared to Benom?

JB: The creative process was very much a collaborative effort between Benom and myself. The original idea and the initial brief were provided to me early on, and I developed some concept art and storyboards. After that, it was a consistent back and forth between the two of us. For example, we both knew the hyperspace effect was going to be a big part of the video, so that’s one of the first things I began working on, and it went through many iterations before it became what you see in the video. Benom is probably the best client an artist can ask for; his feedback is not only clear and visionary, but also practical and actionable. We both brought our ideas to the table and we saw eye to eye on just about everything. When we did have some differing opinions, we reached compromises that satisfied us both.

Do you have a particular style of animation that you like to brand yourself with or do you not like to box yourself in? Is there a personal animation style that characterizes the video?

JB: This is a difficult question for me to answer, but a great one! Professionally, my background is in post-production for live-action film. Working as a digital compositor (think green screens and CG characters) for 8 years before coming to Colorado, I rarely got to exercise my own creativity beyond the very limited freedom given to me by my supervisors and directors. In other words, my style was the style of whomever was signing my paychecks! I suppose I’d have to say that my “style” is invisible visual effects that aren’t supposed to be noticed… now that I’m in a position to be creative in my own right is that no, I don’t have a style that I like to brand myself with… yet! 

What was the initial idea behind this music video? Did that idea change or develop in the production process? And, did it come out how you had hoped?

BP: The initial idea was to have some spaceships flying through space and time to go home to their star in the Pleiades. The idea did change. For example, in production we removed the ships, but kept the idea of visiting a star of an advanced civilization. It came out amazing and I appreciate Jeremy's patience with me during the process. 

JB: After 40+ iterations, it changed quite a bit in some ways, but stayed true to the original idea in all the ways that count. One thing that we eventually cut was the ship itself. At first, I think we both felt it was really important, but after some feedback that Benom got, we realized that the ship was a distraction that kept viewers from being able to enjoy the rest of the frame. Another example that kind of went the other way, was that originally, the solar system fly-through was much shorter. After a few versions, it became very clear that there’s only so many ways you can make hyperspace, galaxies and stars look different before it starts to get a little boring. So, we decided to give more weight to the solar system at the beginning. In the end, I think it was a great choice for the overall pacing of the video.

One thing I liked in particular about the video is the simplicity and far-outness of it. Was that a creative choice either of you made or maybe a stylistic choice?

BP: I believe it was a mutual creative and stylistic choice. We both imagined a sort of light speed tunnel, like from Star Wars, but more transparent so we could imagine all the galaxies flying by, but all the while, the Pleiades is still forefront in our center vision as a reminder of the destination. 

I also notice how the video throws out a lot of common music video tropes and opts for a more abstract approach. How do you think the video compares to the usual rock video format?

BP: I felt the music really just lent itself to something artistically abstract. I suppose the usual rock format is mostly all about the band, the look, the ego, etc. That's not wrong in any respect, I like to see the band too. However, this is about taking people on a trip for two and a half minutes and the audience has no idea, nor do they care, what the band looks like or who they are. I like that about this video. It's just all about the music and artistic creative expression. 

Are there any upcoming plans for the band that people should know about? What’s this summer look like for Professor Plumb?

PB: I'm releasing a new song and lyric video soon titled, “Take That!,” which hits on the heightened state of paranoia and divisions growing in the U.S. and around the world. I'll also be performing at The Underground Music Showcase, date, time and venue TBD. This set will be cool and different because it will be a rock duet. I'll be performing on bass/vocals with John Demitro (The Velveteers; Pink Fuzz) on electric guitar. 

Keep up with Professor Plumb here.

-Adam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.