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Aube Perrie is doing his best to keep things slimy and gross.

Aube Perrie is doing his best to keep things slimy and gross.

David Knight - 1st Aug 2023

He's had a big year so far, with standout videos for Harry Styles and The Hives. Pulse Films director Aube Perrie tells us how he favours the classic craft skills of special effects over digital to make his wildly entertaining work - and savours the nailbiting moments.    


Aube Perrie (above, centre) says he is trying to keep his ideas simple, but that it has always been a bit of a problem for him. But on the evidence of the music videos he has produced in the past few years one is inclined to ask - where's the problem?

It's true that are usually enough ideas in Perrie's videos - narrative, or otherwise - to occupy a much longer project. It is just that much more fun to have those ideas squashed into one furiously action-packed pop promo...

Like In Harry Styles' Music For A Sushi Restaurant, where we get virtually a movie's worth of wacky narrative in about four minutes: Styles is half-man, half-squid, hauled in the fishing catch of a down-at-heel seafood restaurant, who avoids his fate to end on their diners' plates by becoming a highly unusual nightclub act. Well, at least for a while.

Then the pop superstar becomes a side player in his own video for Satellite, where the true hero is an automated vacuum cleaner who falls in love, and heads out of the big LA venue where Styles is performing to embark on a nailbiting adventure - which takes the little guy (I think we can call it a little guy) all over America...

And for The Hives - the Swedish garage band returning after a decade-long hiatus - Perrie has effectively made a movie - a four minute horror movie, in fact - for their comeback track Bogus Operandi, filled with the staples of the genre - bleak forest, log cabin, evil cassette, flying shovel and buckets of blood.

That's the other thing. There's something very palpable and gritty about Perrie's videos and even works for the big pop stars, including Megan Thee Stallion and Angele as well as Styles, avoid slick digital cleanliness. He builds his fantasy visions in an old school fashion, with in camera effects, revelling in the traditional techniques of classic filmmaking... even if it gets a bit messy.

The director, who hails from St. Malo in Brittany, North West France, made his start as a director in classic fashion, growing between MTV and skate films, shooting videos for local bands. He did not attend a film school, and as he reveals during our conversation a few weeks ago, he has always felt himself a bit of an outsider within the French filmmaking world, seeking  inspiration from the US and Britain - just a ferry trip away from his hometown.

We met on a scorching Friday morning in June, while Perrie was spending a few days in London. He was in town to see The Hives perform - twice - having just watched them play a 'warm-up' in a small venue before they supported Arctic Monkeys at their stadium shows in London. But we began by talking all about Harry...

PROMONEWS/DK: I was going to say that you’ve had a busy year so far, but I guess that this run of work has been going longer than that…

AUBE PERRIE: I have a bad memory for these things, but it's been pretty continuous. And I guess it started around a year ago, when Harry's team, actually H’s creative director Molly Hawkins and Columbia’s SVP Bryan Younce reached out and we started to try to make something happen for the new album. That's when, among other things, I wrote Satellite and Sushi. Satellite was actually written first.

I mean, there were also a couple before that - it was a long process. Among many things, Molly Hawkins is a brilliant creative director. She’s very cautious about the work they put out there, and so is H, Bryan and this whole team. But I was very fortunate and spoiled enough for having them letting me explore on a couple tracks, being extremely open and supportive. The process spread on a whole year, but that was all to the benefit of pushing the creative, pushing the ideas, giving ourselves the opportunity to explore and use the time to make something that really feels right.

When Satellite was written, I think we all liked it, but it just stayed only as an idea, we kept exploring, maybe we weren’t going to do it. And then it came back like, months later - after Sushi. It was a busy year but giving lots of time to reflect, to develop.

We tried to make it as disgusting as possible - but Harry is so handsome. The beard is kind of hot...

What did they give you, to prompt your ideas apart from the music?

The briefs were very different. Satellite was completely open. For Sushi they actually mentioned just one thing: Harry wanted to be a fish. That was the brief.

And he went from a fish to sort of disgusting Tulu octopus - that's what I was aiming for. I guess I didn't want to make a classic mermaid figure. And we tried to make it as disgusting as possible. But somehow, I don't know, Harry is so handsome…

Yes. So it still ends up being quite glamorous...

Exactly. It's terrible! But we really did our best to really make this world very slimy and gross - I kept insisting on that, and we were lucky to have everyone very much on board to go for a world that felt sweaty and textured. The texture of the tail and the squid body part had fight scars, our brilliant prosthetic lead Chelsea Delfino added the ones that white sharks have, went for a skin marked with shells. We really tried to put some gross details in there.

I wanted to design a world and restaurant location as disgusting as possible, that had this very odd and long back story. My friend and producer Josh Sondock took me to this great location that was already pretty intense, it has this crazy backstory that has been untouched, an amazing kitchen to work with - and we made it ten times worse. Still, H’s beard is kind of hot...

Above: Harry Styles's squid body, under construction in the prosthetics workshop

Having said that it's glamorous, he's still a very convincing man-squid. How did you go about creating something that good, that really does look like it was captured in-camera? 

It was very much captured all in-camera. Time was challenging because we had very little time to build the tail, the prawn masks, in time to fit the schedule. H was in the middle of the craziest tour, to say the least. We presented two different options. Something more fishy - closer to the classic mermaid I guess, but still pretty gross and unsettling, more like a slimy eel– and the squid, which was more difficult to do, but got us very excited. And H, Molly, everyone went straight for the squid. So much fun.

A first thought was maybe to try to go like a mix between prosthetics and animatronics. But I wanted something as huge as possible, to me there was this hilarious idea that the logistics of hosting such an act with a heavy and slimy body required an absurdity far from the glamorous idea of a mermaid cabaret act, and we had something like two weeks to prep both the squid tail and shrimp masks for H's brass band in the video. Doing both wasn't possible, so we ended up just doing prosthetics.

Yet, everything was made specifically for the video. As I mentioned, we worked with Chelsea Delphino, an amazing SFX prosthetic designer and makeup artist that I previously worked with. We met doing Thot Shit for Megan Thee Stallion.

There's lots of performance videos that I've loved and been important to me. But I've always struggled to go for that.

Okay, I remember what she did on Thot Shit...

Exactly. That was a very nice bond we created back then and we became friends, so we went straight back to her and she found amazing solutions. Chelsea also brought on board Jason Hamer - quite a legend. He and his team have done so many legendary prosthetics, animatronics and SFX, lately on shows from Stranger Things to American Horror Story. They all did amazing on the tail.

Then in terms of the shoot on set, it was quite a challenge as well. If the logistics of a gigantic super slimy tail was an hilarious element for the narrative because it was a pain for our characters to work with…it was very much the same in real life. And…we had only one day with H.

Wow. Not much time to fit in a lot of narrative. Did you get a much of a chance to discuss with him beforehand what was going to happen?

H definitely kept an eye on everything and it was nice to have him excited and on board jumping into a huge slimy tail and catching fishes in-camera beforehand, so we knew the main challenge would be to make it through the days. But at least we were all super aware of the challenge and up for it including H.

A lot goes through Molly, but they're also very close, so if you're discussing with Molly, you're discussing with H eventually. But I guess there was not so much discussion, but more support, especially for Sushi. It was just very easy and supportive and went very smoothly. There was just a lot of trust. And we were all here to try getting something fantastic.

Above: Aube (left) and 'H', on set of the Music In A Sushi Restaurant video

I think we were all very strongly convinced it was actually good to try going for what was not so much expected of him. And I think we all were very excited picturing a result that felt like it had the potential to be quite unique. Including H.

He's familiar with the film world, having done features, and I guess he's toying with his image in quite an interesting way. Obviously not all pop stars are prepared to do that.

More should - because…it’s fun. Take Sushi. The shot list was wild. We had one day with H. At some point, you have no time to always explain what you’re shooting all over the place with A & B cam, you just need to get on with it. I guess it was way more indie film than blockbuster. But H is blockbuster. So the day would be impossible without him being very much prepared to be on the same boat as everyone one else to get it, embracing it and having fun with it. There is just no other way.

But I’m so glad that’s who he is. Everyone saw that day he’s definitely amazing at doing that and getting it. He’s very much prepared indeed. And by focusing the energy on nothing but getting it, it allows space for fun. And more than anything, it was all a lot of fun. That’s how it should be.

As is usually the case in your videos, there's a lot of stuff to fit in a relatively short amount of time.

I've been trying to go for simplicity, as much as possible, but I guess it's not something I'm very good at. I grew up in the 90s with MTV, and I've seen a lot of performance music videos that I've loved so much and became important to me. But somehow I feel that I've always struggled to go for that. 

What helps at least for me is that narrative work in my music videos means shots are very detailed and specific. It’s already pre-edited to the half-second on paper. So you work on the packing-in early in the process. Then you just hope that the artist you’re working with embraces it, because often due to lack of prep time we rarely go for that detailed storyboards to sign things off, so it looks quite heavy on paper.

I've always rather jumped straight for the prep, than losing too much energy and time, convincing on all the details. It helps working with artists already convinced and sharing a vision. You want every bit of energy to pack-in even more details..

'French touch' electronic music created this very interesting generation of both music producers and music video directors. I came after that. 

Can we rewind back to earlier in your career? What were the most important videos before you started making videos outside France?

Well, I feel there was a generation of music video directors before me, that surfed the many waves of a 'French touch' electronic music environment. It created this very interesting generation of both music producers and also music video directors. I definitely came after that, and for me it was a bit of a struggle [in that environment]. I was just not a big listener of French music and not so aligned with where the need was at the time in terms of music videos.

What was in front of me was not where I wanted to go. So, for me, it was a lot about trying to reach the UK, reach the US. But nobody is going to put you on an international pitch if you have nothing to show.

I guess my really first what you could called big music video was for Belgian artist Angèle - that was in 2018. We actually met before she released any music. We met through friends over coffee, I showed her a video I made for some friends, and she told me she was about to release some music. We agreed it would be cool to do a video together.

Above: Aube (centre) with crew on location for Angele's La Thune video

I actually wrote this idea for her, which was completely irrelevant because she had no budget, no even music released. So obviously it didn't happen. But then she released the music, and it blew up, quite impressively. All of a sudden, she was becoming a promising potential superstar here in France. She and her team came back to me a year after and they said - oh, we actually want to do it. 

Yet it was still very lo-fi in terms of how we built it. The props were made in our living room with my production designer and partner Louise [Mekylla Bachir], yet we ended up having the music video screened in hundred of movie theatres all over France and Belgium. The post work was all done at home, yet all of a sudden we were exporting for a subway digital screens campaign in multiple cities. It was very homemade, yet we got lucky with how it was received.

But we did quite a couple after that, long before we got anything coming from outside the country. One day though, we did one for French band L’Imperatrice, for a song called Peur des Filles (Afraid of Girls). Somehow, it seems Megan and her team saw that, and really liked it.

So Megan really came out of the blue?

Yeah, they reached out directly. For me, that was really odd, because I watched Megan's videos at the time, and there was a lot of amazing dance performances, studio work. It was a long way from anything I ever did - or what I was interested in doing. So when they reached out, I had no idea what they really wanted with me.

The first treatment I sent was actually something that we finally did a couple of years later. It was like The Hives - a homage to Sam Raimy's The Evil Dead. It was extremely gory - way worse than anything I've done. So we knew by sending that either that we would never hear from them again, or we set the ground upon which we can work. And they came back and say, 'oh, we love it.... but can you write one more?'

We ended up, I don't know, writing ten of them - and [that idea for] Thot Shit was the last one I wrote. And to be honest, it was, like, not detailed at all. It was like a three page thing. We got a call the next day and they were like - yeah, let’s do it right now.

What’s funny is that this last idea was somehow very different from what we actually shot. It had the same intention and main idea, was opening with that same phone call. But in th elittle time that we had, we kept developing it until the last moment. It was all a huge bet that felt like it would crumble any second. But also because I had no interest in doing it any differently, there was no temptation of taking any edge off to make it happen at all costs. So it kept evolving to push it as far as we could. Even the ending was not the original ending.

With the message that the video was conveying, I felt we should do something powerful for the ending.

So transforming the racist senator's mouth into a vagina... that was a late addition to the video?

Yes. I was already over there, a few days from the shoot. We had an ending, which was cool but not as powerful as I wanted it to be. With the political message that the music video was going for, I really felt that there was something powerful to do here. Very luckily, Megan felt exactly the same.

And I got this [new] idea. But I really couldn't tell if it was the absolute worst idea, the worst thing to suggest days before the shoot, or the most exciting thing. You're quite alone when you have an idea like this, days before a shoot for the massive artist Megan is. But I was excited so I called my producer right away and I actually sent him a Photoshop of the idea, I guess it felt like the only way of even discussing it, saying I'd like to suggest that to the label. It felt crazy but unavoidable.

Above: on set in the restaurant scene with the dancers from Megan Thee Stallion's Thot Shit video

But the label were really nice, they let us show the idea to Megan. And she went straight for it. She was like - 'Fuck, yeah!'.

I'm still grateful, too, that YouTube let us put this out there. There was a conversation on how to handle it, and we [were sure] that it would be blurred. In fact, having it any other way felt so impossible that my dream for this music video was to get to have two versions - a nightmare to ask - firstly, the blurred version, but then they let us release the other version. That was already a wild hope and a long shot. But Megan and her team were very much on board, very much pushing. We got a call one day, and they were like, yeah, we do only one version and there is no blur. We couldn’t believe it until we watched the live premiere.

Above: Skip Pipo, who plays the 'politician in Thot Shit, tests his prosthetic 'mouth'.

So what about MK's Chemical? That was the first video of yours that we featured on Promonews...

Actually both Megan and MK happened at the same time. We shot Thot Shit in LA, and then I took a plane the next day and went straight to the MK shoot. It was an exciting time.

MK definitely felt like a breakthrough for me, because I pitched on it prior to Megan reaching out. It was my first UK pitch, something I had been wanting for a long time. And that's how I met Pascal Molina, who did the animatronics on MK, who has since become a close friend, and we then worked together on our robot in Satellite. Developing animatronics and building the dog head all in-camera was the most inspiring process. 

[Animatronics] might not have brought what digital has brought in the past few years, but that technology has also kept evolving.

Obviously people have been doing animatronic and prosthetic masks for decades and doing amazing things. And this was a small budget music video, so we weren't competing with the work that has been done on amazing feature films. But the interesting thing is that these practical technologies, even though they might not have brought what digital has brought in the past few years, have also kept evolving too. Engines inside the animatronics have got smaller. Those technologies can be mixed with facial recognition, vocal recognition - and that's what Pascal has been doing the past few years.

When you do anthropomorphic characters, you usually see people working with prosthetic masks that will move with the movement of the human face behind it. But a human face is not a dog face. Features and dimensions are very different; And I really needed the dog emotion. But still have it on a human body.

Above: Animatronic bulldog mask under construction in Pascal Molina's studio, for MK's Chemical video 

So there was a big challenge here to overcome, to have it wearable and respect a relation between the size of the head and the size of the body, and these evolutions in animatronics made this possible. They used this silicone gel that was quite a breakthrough in the way it allowed them to us certain material that gives you the the flappy jowls in the dog's face but to combine them with wearable animatronics. And we had something close to 30 engines in the face - but you could still put the mask on.

It's incredibly convincing. When I first watched it, I just assumed it was somehow done in post production. 

Yeah. It was kind of odd. Even seeing it right in front of you, on set, it was still very weird.

Above: The completed Bulldog mask for the MK 'Chemical' video

I really needed the dog emotion, but it still have a human body.

It's amazing. It's also a video in which the setting is both realistic and non-specific. It could be Paris, or London...

I’ve had this issue of shooting in France, in Paris, especially outdoors. It’s one of those things where if I put a camera in Paris, it looks very much like Paris to me. It just feels way too locatable, maybe because I’m French. It leans toward an aesthetic I’m not inspired with, where it feels hard to me creating a non-specific non-place world. 

Anyway, with MK, we very much shot it in Paris because we had to for various reasons. We had a very small budget for production design, and because I wanted this story to exist inside a world that would not necessarily makes sense on where it’s happening or how it functions, and have that world not existing in Paris, we had to build the snack shop from scratch, dress streets and an apartment.

In our research, my production designer Louise Mekylla Bachir thought of this insane location that I loved straight away. It looked like the foundations of a Disney backlot idea for a dirty night market. It came with lots of textures, metal, concrete, hanging cables. It felt realistic and textured, but with a great potential to build fantasy on. And what's amazing about the location is that it's actually indoors - it's covered. So logistically it was easy to shoot there, but it looks like rough streets.

Above: Jamel Elgharbi tries out the Bulldog prosthetics before completion

It was a great location to build on, in order to blur the frontiers of where this world actually existed. It was very much the same process and idea behind the world for Music for a Sushi Restaurant, when looking for the venue location and the outdoors. That place is grounded in realistic elements, yet it feels pretty weird, far away, but you just embrace it.

Same thing designing Thot Shit’s world, that’s very much US, because of how much I wanted to connect it to US politics. But the world is built with so much US aesthetics clichés, an overdose of classics, it makes no sense. It doesn’t have to, so you can make it as fun and enjoyable as possible. Yet, I also did Satellite where the story very much exists in our real world. But in that case, that link to the real world and real places, starting with H’s residency at the LA Kia Forum, was needed to have our story open as far away possible from a sci-fi or magic world, so our hero starts out as something as mundane as possible.

And then, the MK video led to the robot vacuum cleaner in Satellite for Harry Styles, thanks to Pascal Marina...

Yes, and just like with our dog, our robot is 100% practical there. Actually, especially in the beginning when we started working on it, I had a hard time calling it a robot because it's exactly what I didn't want. 

Pascal is not only a genius magician and he will always push the idea that you bring - but not only in the engineering. He's passionate about his work, about stories and bring a lot on the creative level. And he's definitely a nerd, and he will push for doing as much as he can - but sometimes you don't want to do too much.

So we could have done a proper transformer robot like this, turned this Hoover into something technically incredible. But in our initial conversation, I actually told Pascal that it was exactly where we should not go. That we needed to work only with actual vacuum cleaner parts, and we needed to not do any eyes, not do any mouths, not do anything that was 'robot-y'.

It was about looking at those automated vacuum cleaners and thinking, oh, they look like the Mars Rover... and they're both very much alone.

I know there's been a lot of links to Wall-E, which is amazing. I'm not going to complain about that. Wall-E such an amazing character, an amazing story. But, believe it or not, this is definitely not how it started. It definitely started by looking at these objects, and thinking: 'oh, they look like the Mars Rover - and, oh, there is something interesting there because they're both very much alone.' This was the start of it all.

But when I started showing the treatment, Wall-E got mentioned and that did get me scared. I thought that if people see a robot at the start, and it feels sci-fi, its not going to work. It would not have the emotion that I want to bring in. I wanted something very mundane. I wanted this object to have nothing. And we tried that as much as possible.  

Pascal actually found those hybrid automatic vacuum cleaner that exists that are a mix between the classical one with the Hoover head and round one, and that's what we used. He said - this is interesting as it has the Hoover head and we can start working with that. That's what we did. But it was definitely critical, the way you would see the object for the first time in the room, but I think people got it.

Above: 'Stomper', the vacuum-robot, encounters man and dog on location of Satellite shoot

At the same time, you had to have the viewer identify with the 'robot', so you need a shot in the video, in the auditorium, where convey some form of personality...

Definitely! That was one of the benefit of the classic vacuum head. It gives you a element to read the mundane object that it is, and allowed us to work on a strong personality. That’s a very important shot, the birth, one of the most important ones, and I spent quite some time on it when shooting it. I think everybody wanted to move on with it, thinking we got it, but this shot needed to be absolutely perfect.

You were confident that you could portray this character properly when you wrote it?

I'm never confident [laughs]. I think there is always a moment when you go super anxious and scared. And I feel that if I don't have that, at some point it might be even worse. There is somehow something comforting about anxiety. I’m talking in the creative process. The fact that your idea can be bad makes you anxious, but by telling yourself a good idea necessarily starts with a bad one, you allow your anxiety to evolve into something better.

I never felt that I was someone that was pushing through frontiers. I don't see myself as someone bringing so many new stuff on the table. I'm a very nostalgic person, I like old stuff - so long as there's one thing that feels new to make for me, like in terms of the emotion of it, or some tiny detail.

As long as it gives me the feeling that I'm not sure how to do it, I'm not sure how it looks, I quite feel good about that. I quite like it. It doesn’t feel so interesting and worth it if I’m too confident to begin with. But the emotion of this character felt right and that was the most important part. The rest what just exploring and working on solutions.

The emotion of this character felt right and that was the most important part.

This one was a pretty unusual process. Obviously most shoots are always very contained, you remember quite precisely when you shot. But Satellite was very spread out. We had to change the original plan. We were going to shoot everything happening in the Forum - the venue Harry was playing - and then to go straight for the travel section. But then Harry got had to cancel a few dates - and this happened right before the shoot. Was very unfortunate.

But in the end, it turned out to be amazing for our little hero. By having the shoot more spread out, we got to spent much more time with it, working on its personality and getting to know what worked the best in terms of emotions, simply because we grew very fond of it, and by spending so much time on the roads all together, we couldn’t very much experiment how it had the ability to move us, and therefore to move everyone. Also, it allowed us to come back to shoot key scenes much later, when we had all that knowledge on what our hero should be. It gave me the decisive benefit of reflecting on it, something with very rarely have with music videos.

Above: Aube, holding Stomper the vacuum-robot, with his "indie-config" crew on the Satellite shoot

We got so very lucky with this one. Getting to have days with solid configs and big crew, lots of stuff to play with, use The Kia Forum. But also got to shoot with a very 'indie' config, when we shot all the travel sequences. We were just eight people in two cars - just travelling through the US and shooting whenever you want, going wherever you want.

In the end, I think we shot total like around ten days, something like that. Doing it got me thinking how crazy it would be to work with a massive artist music video budget just on a very low-key config like this. It could be pretty insane. 

You mentioned Wall-E and one scene that does have that Pixar movie sense of jeopardy crossed with wonder, is when the robot is crossing the Los Angeles freeway... How did you do that?

The freeway scene was also done practically. The first shot, the lock shot over six lanes is a two pass - one with the vacuum cleaner and one with cars. But when the car passes over ‘Stomper' - and the camera - is one shot done for real in-camera.

So we only had one vacuum cleaner, so we definitely had the conversation with the post house to achieve it safely. But to be honest, I got a bit bored with it especially on set. I sometimes can be reluctant a bit with post work. It's really my bad, I guess. I've often felt that if you can shoot something in camera, you should do it in camera. There was a benefit of not doing it in camera to protect ourselves, but for me, that was kind of a bad argument, a bad reason.

Above: shooting the LA freeway scene on the Satellite video

I made the call on set [to shoot the freeway scene for real]. Yeah, it was terrifying...

You can’t block the six lanes for two hours. They give you like, a couple minutes - windows, with police officers at the entrance, holding up traffic. I could see the benefit of just going for it, logistically and very obviously to get to a result that called for it. I made the call on set. I don't know, I must have looked at Pascal and Chris [Ripley], my DP and Chris, and I said, 'okay, let's just do it'. Yeah…that was…exciting and terrifying [laughs]. I think Pascal, really hated me - but also loved it so much. We all did. There was only one machine.

We said we’d do it once. And then we did it a second time, a third, a fourth... and in the end I think we got something like 7 or 8 shots. And we have one version of that where Stomper was touched by the car. One where the wheel brushed past Stomper. That's a massive car.

I feel sorry for the driver, he must have been petrified.

I’m grateful we had very confident drivers for the car, for Stomper, but also the RC camera car that was filming. Cause obviously there are actually two things that the car passed on top of. There's Stomper, but there is also the camera and RC car that the camera is on. Those guys were absolutely amazing. They never said 'ah no', they were like 'absolutely' - which was very exciting. It’s always 100% a collective job, everyone is just as important as anybody, everybody needs to be on board, and everyone was, which was amazing.  

I just hope that in the near future, I can push Pascal way further because there is no limit to what those guys can achieve, to be honest.

The Hives' Bogus Operandi came out virtually the same day as Satellite. Although very different, it's very much an Aube Perrie film in terms of quality - but must have been a different level of budget to Harry... 

Very different. It basically happened as the result of the goodwill of so many people. But when Rik [Green] my producer said 'there's a Hives song for you', I got so excited. I was amazed. 

I've been a massive fan of The Hives since I was a kid. I bought my first skate VHS, and the opening skate sequence was happening - a huge drop of a building - to Hate To Say I Told You So. It was so surprising, as they haven't really done any music for ten years, and they've done plenty of music videos that are a lot about the performance - that's what they do really well and built their legend.

I would never have asked Pulse to reach out to them, because they absolutely don't need me. That's what I told Pelle, their lead singer. We met, when we were in LA shooting Satellite, in January. I said: as a fan all I want is to see you perform. But I don't see any value that I'm bringing to you. As a fan, I didn't want to ruin the Hives.

Above: Aube, with camera, overlooking The Hives on location for the Bogus Operandi video

As a fan, I didn't want to ruin the Hives... but they got me convinced that I might be the right person.

By this point, something had been written. There was this narrative, around the new album, about the Hives' secret member - he's always been their secret member - called Randy Fitzsimmons. Randy has been secretly directing the band, he's like the secret producer, and Randy was gone for ten years, and that's why they didn't release music. And they had this narrative that there was some stuff out there left by Randy. I responded to that, yet I told Pelle I might not be right for them - but they got me convinced.

So how did you get to a full-on Evil Dead-style horror movie idea?

They came up with a lot more than I'm used to. There's a grave on the cover of their new album, and they definitely came up with the idea of Death, and something that has been left behind by Randy. So when I read their first words that they put down, it just struck me as the Evil Dead story, reading something that was left out there from the dead and all of a sudden it sets off evil.

Above: The Hives, inside the cabin on the Bogus Operandi shoot

I also liked the idea that as they've not been releasing music for ten years, they were kind of dead. So it was definitely pretty obvious that it was them coming back from the dead. And as those suits are such powerful items, it was also obvious that we needed to see a transformation.

I wanted to see them without the suits. For me, the thing I wanted to bring in was seeing them as more mundane people. One of the first thing I told them was that they could be a cast in a Coen Brothers movie. I mean, they're like this weird gang. The perfect cast. You can’t make it up. I remember thinking that as a teenager, watching their videos back then.

But then when it came to what they should wear, I thought about having some potential slight colour in there, let’s be clear, not bright yellow and pink, just brownish and yellowish tones. They shut that down straight away. 'Aube, people have been trying for 30 years to put colour on us. You're not going to succeed.' I guess I didn’t.

Above: shooting 'spade-cam' in the forest for Bogus Operandi

But one of the exciting things for me about working with them was shooting in Sweden. They were okay to shoot wherever we wanted. But I was like - no, we absolutely need to go to Sweden. That's kind of the deal. I wanted the band to be very much present on its territory, give us a lot of time and help. They are basically national heroes, and it led to us getting so much support. We shot four days - which is quite unusual for that kind of budget.

I spent like two weeks there before the shoot, because I wanted to hang with them and benefit from the environment. It might be just like a cliché I had about the Swedish outdoors, but I wanted that sort of Fargo-eque feeling of Northern Sweden, which is also their real life background, as they all come from this very small town called Fagersta. Although in the end the budget meant we shot near Stockholm rather than in Northern Sweden.

All the crew is Swedish: DoP is Swedish, production is Swedish. Even the VFX. They're amazing talents over there. A great film industry. But many parts of Stockholm are somehow a bit too beautiful to shoot.

Above: Pelle from The Hives prepares to perform on the Bogus Operandi shoot

There was a bit of rewriting on the video I did while spending time over there, and in one version we had them not drinking in the cabin straight away, they were at a bar. And a bar can be something challenging to work with. I wanted something like a tiny local sport club room - like the ‘Pass This On’ video by The Knife, that was actually shot in Stockholm twenty years ago. But the problem with Stockholm is that it's absolutely beautiful. The whole city was redone. It's so brand new and designed. 

Unless you're Ruben Östlund and you work with that aesthetic, it's the worst. You want something with patina, you want something old with texture.

And of course at the end of the video, we do get the suits, and we do have a band performance...

Yeah, we did some performance because for me it was absolutely impossible to do a Hives music video, even a narrative video, without one.

• Aube Perrie is with Pulse Films and represented for music videos in the UK by Hands London.

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