German-Iraqi DJ and producer Boys Noize (real name Alex Ridha) recently released his fifth studio album ‘+/-‘ (pronounced ‘Polarity’).
Billboard calls Boys Noize “a dance world legend” not only for his solo work but his collaborations as well with artists like Skrillex and Lady Gaga (“Rain on Me”).
Back in July, the Berlin-based DJ and producer told Pitchfork, “The album dives into the polar tension between the musical styles and worlds I find myself in.”
“When you combine opposites, something transcendent can take place, something greater than the two parts,” he added. “And with music, it becomes a magic that can create new worlds.”
The evocative music video for “All I Want,” one of the featured tracks on the album with vocals by Scissor Sisters front man Jake Shears, is a perfect example of combining opposites to yield a “greater than the two parts” result.
The track is a contemporary take on Chicago house with a touch of acid synths and heavy bass beats and popping computer sounds as Shears’ vocals loop over and under the floor-filler production.
But what really drew this writer in was the concept of the music video produced by Grin Machine and directed by Dan Streit.
The short film follows a Venice Beach bodybuilder (played by Brad Swanick) who fills his days in the pursuit of perfection.
Throughout the video we see our protagonist basically alone most of the time, whether sitting solitary on an empty beach, or at home where his walls are filled with framed photos of himself and shelves packed with self-help tomes with titles like “The Guide to Perfection.”
In addition to intense physical workouts, he applies face masks to help attain flawless skin and mental exercises to keep his mind sharp.
In the background, we hear Shears intoning over and over, “Give it to me, give it to me, give it to me.”
But on the opposite side of that equation, our guy can’t seem to make his ‘perfection’ add up. Logging in to a “FriendsMeet” website, he can’t connect with people.
Showing off his amazing biceps, he has nothing else really to offer in terms of conversation. One woman clicks in for a second but quickly types “this is boring” before exiting the chat.
At one point, he connects with a young boy (nothing sexual here) who tries to strike up a conversation.
Boy: “Whoa, you look strong”
Bodybuilder: “I know”
Boy: “I wish I looked like you”
Bodybuilder: “I know”
In between the conversation we see Mr. Body at his day job which seems to consist of posing with tourists at the beach next to a sign that reads “The Perfect Man.”
Back at the chat, the boy asks “what’s up?” and bodybuilder shares, “Just looking for friends.” The boy attempts to share his own interests but Mr. Buff Body is kind of stuck in his own world writing, “It’s not easy to find friends,” before adding (ironically), “I enjoy connecting with people.”
Meanwhile scenes flash by proving quite the opposite.
When bodybuilder tells the young boy “No one wants to know the real me,” the youngster asks a simple but spot-on question: “Do you know the real U?”
Hit play to see how the query impacts the bodybuilder as Shears chants in the background, “All I need is you, all I want is you.”
In a world of social media influencers, FaceTune, Insta lives, and insecurities, Boys Noize’s message and metaphor comes through loud and clear.
Props to Mr. Swanick for his performance that utilizes a “less is more” approach. He deftly draws the viewer in with seemingly expressionless eyes that – initially – convey a sense of detachment. But ultimately there’s an artful hint of inner pain that evokes just the right bit of sympathy for his character.
Boys Noize new album “+/-“ is now available for download/streaming here.
As a postscript to this article, however, we want to share that we’ve perused Mr. Swanick’s Instagram account including several videos he’s posted and it’s apparent he’s nothing like his onscreen counterpart.
Again, that idea of opposites in tandem comes into play.
In addition to bodybuilding, he’s an accomplished actor who’s worked extensively in Hollywood and also a talented artist who gives live art lessons online. He’s even painted portraits of celebrities including one of his hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger that hangs in Arnold’s home.
Swanick recently appeared on an episode of To Tell The Truth where the panel was clearly flummoxed by who and what he does. And he was quite charming along the way.
Check out his appearance below.