Ty Segall’s 10th solo album, Emotional Mugger, dropped late last month and with that release came a 14-minute music video — directed by Matt Yoka and produced by F. Bermudez, Constance Melkonian and Segall—that has been described as “Troma’s version of Thriller.”
The longform clip combines multiple tracks from Emotional Mugger (remixed for the video by Segall and Bermudez), as well as songs recorded exclusively for the video’s score. As it turns out, Ty’s latest album, and the 14-minute epic, bring to light questions on our current relationship to media and self-driven content, the plight and anxieties of living in a modern society and its re-packaged experience as told through the media, and our addiction to it all.
Segall and Yoka’s collaborations started in college, at the University of San Francisco (where I first met both artists), when Yoka made a stop-motion promotional video for the school using Ty’s song “The Drag.” Things really evolved in 2011 when Yoka directed Segall’s video for “Goodbye Bread,” and then in 2014 created the interactive “Manipulator” with coder Simon Wiscombe.
Fast forward to a few days after the death of David Bowie, I got a call from Matt Yoka asking if I could be an extra in Emotional Mugger. I didn’t ask what the video was about, as I like to go into things blind, and being involved in a music video seemed like an interesting way to mourn the death of Bowie. My only direction from Matt was to come dressed like Steve Jobs. Upon arriving to the shoot in Highland Park, I was further fitted in a head brace where my phone could fit snuggly right in front of my eyes, as it showed two big and glossy green eyes twirling around on its screen.
Much to my surprise, Ty was transformed at the shoot with a face bloody and peeling, one eye drooping towards his mouth, with wisps of dry stringy hair coming from his mostly bald head. In this particular scene, my character, Sad Phone Face, runs into Ty on the street and drags him to the wine and cheese party where more phone-faced people are dancing about, vaping, wallowing in their misery, singing doo-wop tunes, and trying to reboot their dying eye phones. It’s just one of many stops Ty takes throughout his journey, one that begins with him witnessing the oddest form of police brutality and ends with a pure moment of respite at the beach.
So, what is “Emotional Mugging?” Ty asked us in an short clip that was released leading up to the album’s debut. To answer that and so much more, I met up with Matt and Ty shortly after the making of Emotional Mugger.