Fiona Apple’s clip for the song “Not About Love” took one day to shoot, cost her only a few digital tapes and was never intended to be a proper music video.
It also hardly features Apple at all, focusing instead on the impassioned lip-syncing and bizarre interpretive dancing of bearded comedian Zach Galifianakis, perhaps best known (though probably not) for his short-lived 2002 talk show “Late World With Zach.”
Despite all that — or perhaps because of it — the “Not About Love” clip has managed to become both an Internet sensation and a mainstay on mtvU, MTV’s channel for college campuses. Ask anyone associated with the video, and they’re just glad to hear someone is watching at all. When they made it back in October, the clip was only intended as filler for the DualDisc edition of Apple’s Extraordinary Machine album (see “Fiona Apple’s Long-Delayed LP Slotted For October 4 Release” ).
“When Zach and [director] Michael [Blieden] and I were making the video — we did it all at Zach’s house in Venice [California] — I was telling them, ‘My secret hope in doing this is that it actually won’t just be on the DualDisc. I hope it actually gets turned into a proper music video,’ ” Apple laughed. “Which was sort of a weird goal because the whole thing is pretty low-key. Basically I’m with Zach the whole time and he’s singing, and I just sit there trying not to laugh. And not succeeding.”
“We just did the thing because we’re all friends. I mean, I never really even learned the words to the song,” Galifianakis said. “And all of a sudden I’ve gotten a bunch of e-mails from people telling me they’ve seen the video on TV and stuff like that, though I wouldn’t be able to verify those claims because I don’t even have cable.”
Galifianakis and Apple had been friends for a while — both are regulars at Largo, the Los Angeles club that hosts a weekly performance by musician Jon Brion — though the idea for a collaboration between the two didn’t materialize until Galifianakis gave Apple a tape of him lip-syncing. Suddenly it all clicked.
“I saw this video that he made where he’s lip-syncing this Anita Baker song, and I thought it was the funniest thing. I would watch it every day because I thought it was a good way to start the day,” Apple said. “So we had to do this DualDisc thing, and I asked him to do one of my songs. ‘Not About Love’ seemed like the best one to do, because it’s has a lot of tempo changes in it and it’s this sort of like schizo song.”
The video’s “performance” was taped in Galifianakis’ bedroom under atypically laid-back conditions (“I think Fiona just, like, walked over to my house one afternoon” Galifianakis said), and then he and director Blieden hit the streets to record several dancing scenes, which run the gamut from strangely bad to just plain strange.
“We were just walking around the city, and I would put on my headphones and just dance in public. It was kind of hard work. I had to have my inhaler with me the whole time,” Galifianakis said. “I can dance really well, really poorly. When I was a kid, me, my brother, sister and cousins would make up our own Earth, Wind and Fire videos, so a lot of my dance moves come from that.”
And while Galifianakis isn’t currently scheduled to re-enact the “Not About Love” video onstage with Apple during her opening slot on Coldplay’s North American tour (see “Coldplay (And Their Fans) Unveil Dates For Next Tour Leg” ), he said they’ve discussed it. In the meantime, he’d like to see if he could parlay this whole video thing into a paying career, though so far his only attempt to reach out to other artists failed miserably.
“I know a guy who is Alicia Keys’ trainer, so I told him to invite her to one of my shows, to see what she thought,” Galifianakis laughed. “So she came to watch me do standup and she absolutely hated it. We met afterward and she didn’t want to look at me. So I think I can cross her off my list. But I’d like to keep trying to appear in videos, because I’m a complete whore.”