German synth wave duo Mängelexemplar, a nom de guerre which translates as “Defective Example,” critique our modern consumeristic society in their charming new VR video for “Hej Hej Hej”.

Since 2011, Lilli B. (lyrics, vocals) and Joa H. (synthesizers, rhythm machines, vocals) have been composing analogue treats using authentic 1980s synths and drum machines. Their sound is marked by their signature minimal electronics, danceability, and playfully edgy vocal lines. There is no need for a complex explanatory model when the music for Hej Hej Hej is so straightforward; this is pure earworm fodder.

The song comes from the album Non Plus Ultra, released almost exactly a year ago.

“Personally, we expected a video for exactly the song a little earlier, because it is extraordinarily well suited for a video,” says the Düsseldorf band. “The video is built closely to the theme of the song. Criticism with a good portion of fun. So it goes without saying that the backdrop for the video shows all imaginable forms of consumption and thereby typical for defective example presents itself in bright colors…the song once again digs deep into the mind and likes to recall to all situations. Especially now in our time, no visit to the discount store goes by without the song surprising us at least once.”

The video was enhanced with the help of Jérôme Lozano, in cooperation with Lifecast, Hugh Hou, Thomas Thiel, Saskia Grebenstein and ela_selected into a brilliant VR experience. Finding yourself in the bizarro version of Aldi with these two characters sounds delightful…sign us up!

Watch the vanilla version of the video for “Hej Hej Hej”, below,

For this endeavour, the duo won accolades for Best Virtual Reality Format at the Amsterdam International Film Festival.

Watch the video in VR here interviewed Mängelexemplar about this video, their experiments in virtual reality, and their background:

This song is a sharp satire of American-style consumerism and pressures to conform. What inspired you to tackle this subject? 

The content of the song is a mirror of our society. It’s not about buying to own, it’s about satisfying the stimulus to buy to buy. “What should I do?” to satisfy the shopping addiction?
In the market economy, there are no restrictions, whether it’s material things or the posting of seemingly unimportant information. Consumption is everything. We thought that was interesting about doing a song…America and the increasing Americanization of the world is a good example of that…it could have been China. 

Starting with groups like Kraftwerk, there seems to be a tradition of exploring society, consumerism, and pop culture through synth music. Do you agree, and do you see Mängelexemplar as being part of this artistic tradition? 

We are inevitably linked to the tradition of German electronic music art. Societal and social aspects are part of our pop culture. 

Can you give us some more background on the formation of Mängelexemplar? What brought you two together, and what kind of music and artistic statement do you wish to make? 

For us, it all started with a meeting and a good bottle of wine.

It has existed relatively quickly and to this day as something quite independently developed. We love the kind of music that we do, just because of the influence of the 80s, which we experienced ourselves, all of that clearly the age for synthpop or NDW, which was formative for us. We try to keep the passion and lightheartedness and make the sound that feels right at this point in life. We are always happy to see the zeitgeist of our fans meet. That is our intention and our motivation. Minimal simply Mängelexemplar. 

This video has very theatrical 80s graphic elements, were there any inspirations you were looking to for the style of the video?

Jérôme: We wanted to represent an absurd and funny vision of a world shaped by American culture’s codes. So I think the US Cinema codes were the first reference for us.

You’ve made it available in VR/3D so people could feel like they’re part of the video themselves. Aside from it being a really fun idea, is there a meaning behind this experimental form that’s tied to the message of the song? 

Jérôme:  I think everything makes sense through viewing the 6DOF version of the video, which was developed in collaboration with Lifecast.

It allows the viewer to move around in VR and create a new type of Immersion in real footage. Besides this fun aspect, It’s still an experimental technology: the image has a very particular graphic power because it is made up of artefacts, pixelations, bugs… The footages have relief and a modern aspect, but also a retro and rough aspect. The treatment goes in the direction of the song: from the beginning, I imagined the band performing in a video game from the 16bit era.

What response and feedback have you noticed from the video? Did it win the best VR project at the Amsterdam International Film Festival? 

Jérôme: We decided to submit this 6DOF version to festivals because in this experimental project we obviously have a visibility problem (it’s only available to watch with the Oculus Quest 2) and the reaction was immediate and very positive! In particular on the fact of being able to move with a certain freedom in the different scenes. Having an award and being selected in other festivals like the Berlin International Art Festival or the 8 & Halfilm Awards is extremely rewarding for our work.

What do you think of the future of VR in relation to both art and consumerism? 

Jérôme: There are always good and bad things in new technologies. In terms of video creation, I think that VR is an amazing new tool to reinvent immersive content. The fact of having volume in VR footage, to feel the relief, of being able to move your head 180° or 360°VR… is a great way to refocus people on enjoying a video.… I think that VR is the new media that will impose itself on everything else in a few years for the video artists.

More broadly, the Metaverse is in our opinion something very dangerous for the world. It is an extremely insulating tool. We can fear the desocialization of people through the virtual universe. For me it’s a question of dosage: in small doses, it can be a fantastic experience, in large doses: a poison. It is up to everyone to know how to consume the media at our disposal

What kind of feeling do you hope people get out of the song? 

We would like to musically represent the happiness of the shopping spree. 

This has a very authentically-retro sound. What synths are in your arsenal? Who are your inspirations for this track? 

The inspiration comes from within ourselves. The sound generators from the early days of synthesizer development encourage experimental joy in playing. 

What is next for the band? Are there any other multimedia ideas you wish to experiment with? “” 

We are looking forward to our 5th studio album which is planned for 2023. We will surprise you with new material and videos! 

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