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Diego Gonzalez of Color.mp3 Breaks Down Music Videos One Colour At A Time [Interview]

From the outset, Diego Gonzalez's Instagram page, Color.mp3, demonstrates his attention to detail. The 30-year old Chilean based art director is self-admittedly shy, preferring to let the music videos and colour grading on his page do the talking. He understands the importance of colours within music videos and the intimate relationship between colours and storytelling. We spoke with him about all things music video related. Read the interview below.

What’s your background?

I work as an art director in an agency in Chile, but I’m pretty interested in the media side of things like movies, videos and clips. I can say that I’m a product of the internet. I think all the 90s people were raised by the internet, by videos, by content and that’s what makes me me.

What’s the first music video that you remember watching that stood out or resonated with you and why?

The Pearl Jam 'Do the Evolution' one. It’s an animation. I was listening to a lot of grunge at the time. Another one that really stood out to me at the time was Gorillaz' 'Clint Eastwood' video. They are the first animated band and it was crazy to me. It was mind-blowing at the time. I recommend both. (Animation) is not something I upload that much because I think animation kind of cheats on the colours side of things. But yeah, I think Clint Eastwood started everything for Gorillaz. It was my first everything.

Why did you start Color.mp3 and what did you hope people would get out of it?

At first it was called Culture Colors. It started as a personal thing, which is pretty selfish, because I didn’t really care if people followed the page or liked it or anything. I just watch a lot of music videos and I try to analyse them, and it was kind of a challenge for me to watch a video per day. I have to see one, I have to like one, I have to analyse one and it started to roll then I saw that people started following me and it motivated me to keep it going. To be completely honest, it really isn’t for the people (laughs). I’m sorry to say that but it's more for me because I don’t care. I don’t have too many followers. I don’t care if I have 1 or 1000 or 1 million (followers). I really don’t give a damn about that because it’s for me. I love that people like it. I want the people that like my page to listen to something new and watch something new. You can go and watch something from Japan and then something from Ghana so enjoy it.

Do you think that there’s a relationship between movies and music videos? How do you think they both feed into each other?

I think there is but its not symmetrical. I think movies just see movies. What I mean by that is that movie directors will reference other directors and other movies and that’s it. I think music really sees the movies. It sees references and moods and observes them, mixes them and clips them. It’s not symmetrical but there’s totally a connection between them. Music will reference brands, everything. That’s the beauty of music videos I think. It’s not just square space. It’s very liquid. You see everything. You go and see movies and 90% of it is just people and 10% is animation and there’s nothing else around. In music videos you have independence, whether its high-budget or low-budget. It’s more democratic you know.

Your emphasis is on colours and that’s what you mainly focus on. Why do you think a music video's colour palette is important and how important is colour grading in visuals?

I think it’s absolutely crucial but not in a way that you have to be a pro at it you know. You don’t have to be a pro colourist or anything but if you really care, you will do it (colour grade). It sets apart styles of videos or moods. If you see a video from Tekashi 69, you can see his videos are soulless. There is no soul in them. You can have money, you can have the best cameras in the world, even the best lighting if you want but there is no soul. You can see this bunch of colours without care. But if you see something from J Balvin or Bad Bunny or Rosalía or even low budget ones that really care about combinations of colour, you can see the soul. If there’s blue then there’s yellow around there. You can set apart moods like that. You can see when someone really puts their soul into it or if they do it just for the money. Not to throw shade at 69, I kind of like his music but I still think there’s no soul or vision in his videos. There are no memorable moments in his videos. Someone like Skepta for example, he has his colours.

Do you have a favourite music video? If so, why?

This is very difficult. I was thinking about it yesterday but I can’t say just one because there’s too many. But I can say a production company called CANADA. They make Rosalía’s videos, J Balvin’s videos. They are crazy, you should definitely check them out. Everything they do is awesome. Sorry, I really don’t have one favourite video but I can say that everything I upload on Color.mp3 is something I like. Obviously there’s levels, there’s some I like more than others but everything on the page I like. Normally my process is watching 10 to 20 videos in a row and then seeing who really stands out for me. That’s why I don’t do it daily because it’s very time consuming and keeps me up late. All the videos on Color.mp3 are my favourite videos.

Storytelling is an important aspect of music videos. Do you think that colours play a role in storytelling?

Yeah, in different ways I think. Badly done, it’s background. The viewer doesn’t realise the colours. At the very best level, it could be the storytelling you know. Like, at the very best it is the storytelling. The colours make the scene and your scene is your story. It’s crucial I think. All of this is from a perspective of me not knowing shit. I talk about these things from a fan’s perspective. There may be some professionals that work in this area that may be enraged if I say these things but it’s my point of view.

Are there any videos that you’ve watched recently that have impressed you?

(Diego proceeds to share his screen and show me all the YouTube tabs with music videos that he has open and there’s probably 60 or 70 tabs there)

Really I don’t have something in my mind but I have seen a lot of great stuff coming from Africa though. It’s something that has really stood out for me because it was very unknown to me. When you see Ghana and Nigeria in movies, you think of the meme culture on the internet but their vision is stepping up like crazy, in their music videos at least. There is a rising drill scene in Africa which I like. There is one M1llionz video shot in Africa which I think is crazy. It really blew my mind and started to make me search for more.

Why did you change the page’s name from Culture Colours to Color.mp3?

Color.mp3 goes back to me and my childhood when I would illegally download music and have everything named something like ‘unknownartist/1.mp3’. I don’t think I should be the one to speak about culture and I don’t want to be put in a box. I want people to see and listen to everything they can; not just hip-hop or rap or trap. I want to see electronic music from Japan and Chilean trap and reggaeton and stuff like that. That’s why I changed the name.

Have you ever watched a music video and loved it but hated the song or vice versa?

At least 5 a day. Everything I post I either like myself or I think someone else would like. There are certain things I don’t like personally that I know other people would appreciate. I would never upload a music video on my page if I didn’t also like the song. A music video is a music video. If you don’t get the video aspect and the song aspect right then it doesn’t work.

Would you consider directing and/or shooting music videos yourself?

I don’t do music videos but I would love to, I would be so proud to be a part of that you know. It’s an interest for me. I work in advertising, I do some spots. I don’t record but I do some guidelines. I don’t feel prepared to do it myself yet. I think there is something missing and right now I have all the passion to do it but right now we’re in lockdown anyway. It’s one of my goals to at least make one.

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