Andrew Rinehart's "Zoë" Invites You To A Dreamy Party Scene
Musician Andrew Rinehart and director Cory Nixon teamed up to make a music video for “Zoë,” the first track from Rinehart’s upcoming EP ‘Have Fun Idiot.’ Cell Vision’s Prince Terrence spoke to the pair about their “Doom Generation” inspired creation.
Andrew Rinehart’s “Zoë” is the first track from his upcoming EP Have Fun Idiot. For the Zoë music video, Rinehart teamed up with Los Angeles-based directorial rising star Cory Nixon. Inspired by the ‘90s cult film The Doom Generation, the video follows Rinehart as he embarks on a night of debauchery, youthful antics, drug experimentation, and sexual exploration. Director Cory Nixon’s dreamy ‘90’s mystique creates the perfect nostalgic backdrop inspiring a hint of party FOMO as we slowly return to life where these wild social gatherings seem a bit more plausible.
I spoke with Andrew and Cory about their artistic inspiration, challenging societal sexual norms, the importance of representation, their love for ‘90s nostalgia, and more.
CELL VISION: What was your inspiration behind this video? Did you write it based on the song or was it an idea that you had thought of previously?
CORY NIXON: When I first listened to the song, I really leaned into the nostalgic feeling it brought up for me. It reminded me of being a teenager in Los Angeles and going out, being reckless with no consequences. I wanted to really highlight that feeling of vulnerability in sexuality and the freedom of what that looks like. You know, like, “here for a good time, not a long time” state of mind.
CELL VISION: What was a film that inspired you the most as a child to become a filmmaker? And how long have you been directing?
CORY NIXON: Yikes! My parents are really into film and kind of let me watch whatever I wanted growing up. I remember seeing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory [(1971)] and thinking, This is fun; I want to do this. Also I saw Scream [(1996)] in theatres and fell in love. ‘90s and ‘00's teen films cemented my desire to be a filmmaker. I watched Kids [(1995)] on prom night, and the rest was history. I've been directing since 2015.
CELL VISION: In your work, you highlight race and sexuality as well as societal areas where many artists are reluctant to venture. Like the hallucinogenic experimental drug-infused kissing scene between Andrew Rinehart and the actor Jaake Castro in “Zoë,” which becomes somewhat of a climactic point in the video. This part made me feel like I was in the room, hallucinating with the actors. What was your artistic thought process like to capture this moment and reel the viewer into the scene?
CORY NIXON: My work often tends to stem from an autobiographical nature. Memory itself is often distorted and fantastical. I really wanted to focus on the dynamic between Andrew and Jaake's characters' sexuality. Often, some men are afraid to be honest with their feelings of attraction to the same gender. I wanted to highlight that moment of safety and no one judging and what that would look like. Through a heightened sense, I feel like we are all able to be truly honest with our deepest feelings and desires, and that is what these characters are feeling in that scene.
CELL VISION: The video pays homage to the ‘90s cult film The Doom Generation (1995). Whose idea was this, and what is the significance of this film for you?
CORY NIXON: Gregg Araki's body of work is very special to me. I watched his Teen Apocalypse trilogy when I was becoming comfortable with myself. Doom Generation is one of my favorites out of the trilogy. The nuanced film questions so many traditional American values. The movie played a pivotal role in shaping my thoughts around sexuality and creativity.
CELL VISION: How big of a part does representation and pushing the viewer to expand their minds play in your work, and how do you personally relate to these concepts?
CORY NIXON: Representation plays a huge role in my work. I feel like the same stories have been told for so long, and I personally would like to see something fresh. Getting a viewer who has consumed my work to think about their own beliefs and question their thinking is when I know I've done a good job. If I can get a viewer to question their beliefs for whatever they believe in, then I have succeeded.
CELL VISION: I taste subtle notes of vintage teen horror B movie vibes in some of your work. Maybe it’s the title sequence and hazy look followed by the introduction of a cast of unsuspecting, carefree friends in “Zoë.” Am I tripping, or is this intentional?
CORY NIXON: We are all tripping. So much of my inspiration comes from the teen horror films I've seen of the ‘90s. My work tends to often live in this dream world of surrealism. I often love to pose the question to the viewer, "Is this really happening?"
CELL VISION: What advice do you have for aspiring or up-and-coming filmmakers?
CORY NIXON: Use what you know in your work. Be as human as possible to get the best results
CELL VISION: Your new single “Zoë,” along with the dreamy visual accompaniment by director Cory Nixon, gives me ‘90s feels reminiscent of the MTV era. Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” or Aerosmith “Crazy” come to mind, the common motif being carefree youthfulness. How do you, as a musician and artist, relate to this aesthetic?
ANDREW RINEHART: Yeah, it is kind of a throwback video. I was thinking about The Smashing Pumpkins’ video for “1979” a lot when we were filming it. I've made a lot of dark music, and this was a rare posi-sounding song with a very uplifting melody (despite the somewhat jaded lyrics), so I was hoping for the video to match that. The concept was all Cory’s idea though. He pitched the idea of doing an homage to The Doom Generation, and it just totally clicked in my mind.
It’s a ‘90s-feeling song, The Doom Generation is a cool underground ‘90s movie with quintessential ‘90s stars (Rose McGowan, etc.), and I wanted a video that had something of a narrative arc. Cory and I were also attracted to providing a sort of release of the palpable homoerotic tension in the original film. It was super fun to tie up that “loose end” via our video. It’s really interesting that some of those ‘90s films (like Jawbreaker [(1999)], for example) have these intense homorerotic scenes where most people back then probably didn’t even realize what the hell was going on. Credit to the filmmakers for slipping those bits in while still being able to make successful films for the masses.
CELL VISION: What is your interpretation of the “Zoë” video?
ANDREW RINEHART: I personally just see it as a fun fictional document of a random party kid night. The kind of debaucherous evening that seems pretty common to wild younguns in LA. I was mostly interested in the Doom/’90s homage and to make something playful in terms of its depiction of sexuality.
CELL VISION: How close is this video to the average day in the life of Andrew Rinehart?
ANDREW RINEHART: Haha, pretty damn far, I’d say. At least recently (COVID, etc.). Life seems to be slowly returning to its previous vividness though, so I’m sure I have some more late night hangs coming. I was in NYC a few weeks ago, and there was some nightlife stuff happening. Hopefully over the next few months, life will ramp back up again.
CELL VISION: “Zoë” is the first track off of your new EP that will be released in August. What can we expect from this new EP?
ANDREW RINEHART: It’s a six-song affair, and it’s sort of all over the place. There’s four originals and two covers— one of a rare Arthur Russell side project song, and then Bonnie “Prince” Billy and I do a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend Of The Devil.” I’m psyched to release that one. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would do a cover of a Grateful Dead song, but here we are. I had some surfer friends up in San Luis Obispo persuade me to the vibe.
CELL VISION: You’ve been releasing music independently on your own from what I understand. What have you learned about the advantages of releasing music this way?
ANDREW RINEHART: Actually, this EP is coming out on a label in my hometown (Louisville, KY) called Sonablast Records. I’ve been working with them for a few years now. It’s been incredibly helpful to have their support, but of course, yes, I’ve released plenty of stuff on my own too. There are pros and cons. If you’re on your own, you can do whatever the hell you want and control everything, but it’s taxing and expensive. And it seems less financially viable to make music on your own as the years go by, so it can be frustrating. I’m very grateful things are going better for me right now, but of course, it’s still a struggle.
I think good art always includes an element of struggle. It’s like anything— you get inspiration, sure, and that kind of comes from outside of you, but then you have to grab the ideas and bring them down to earth and craft the whole thing. That takes precious time and effort. So, at the end of the day, whether I’m working with a label or not, it kind of boils down to the same, at times difficult and draining, practice. It’s been amazing to work with Cory! Usually, I direct and edit my own videos, and that’s stressful, so it was a total pleasure and honor to get to work with someone whose work I admire and to have them mostly steer the ship. The video is really so beautiful, so I’ll always be grateful to him and his team for making such a wonderful accompaniment to the song.
CELL VISION: What would you tell new musicians who are considering this route?
ANDREW RINEHART: Unless you’re really fortunate, you really have to sort of fake it ‘til you make it, aka put out your own stuff for however long it takes until you’re either set up well independently or you attract the attention of a label or someone who’s helping support your vision. There’s no one path for this endeavor, so you just have to work your ass off and improvise as things happen.
An art career seems to be getting harder and harder to pull off these days financially, so it doesn’t hurt to build skills or use your art skills in a more traditional career realm to help fund your art making. That sounds really lame to say, I know, but it’s the reality for a lot of us working artists. Maybe one day, Spotify will be forced to pay better royalties, or artists will be treated more like artists are treated in European countries (aka better), but until that time, we’re all kind of stuck in this weird, late-AF-stage capitalism America dystopia place, so you gotta be strategic and cunning and savvy to make it all work. That’s just my two cents, of course. Every person’s fate is different. I’ve had major ups and downs as an artist, [but I’m] feeling pretty good right now though!
You can check out Cory Nixon and Andrew Rinehart on Instagram, watch the video for Zoë and listen to the song on Spotify via the links below.