Sam Spiegel Puts Wu-Tang Clan In Space
The jack-of-all-trades trope seems to be diminishing. In today’s world, you’re a videographer, a director, a musician (sometimes in the most generic sense of the word), but rarely all three. So it’s evermore refreshing to encounter someone so versatile in artistic craft and talent that every project reaches across mediums and performs exemplary in its given realm.
That describes the work of Sam Spiegel, formally a DJ, music producer, composer, music director and film director. His latest single, “One Last Time,” released in September, emblazons the intoxicating vocals of the illustrious Goldilox, fusing elements of electronic, trap, and pop synthetics within a well-defined production.
He started Squeak E. Clean – a commercial music house – in 2005, and has worked on a variety of award-winning advertisements for companies such as Nike, Adidas, Cadillac, Sonos, and many others.
But music isn’t Spiegel’s only endeavor. He worked on “KENZO World – The New Fragrance,” hailed as one of the greatest video advertisements of all time. “KENZO World” was directed by Spike Jonze and won two Gold Lions at the Cannes Lions Film Festival.
More recently, he’s had the opportunity to expand his hand in film production, working with friends and co-conspirators Wu-Tang Clan to create a new mini-series that flirts with the intangible, set in space of course (as is Sam’s regular M-O). Titled Wu Tang In Space Eating Impossible Sliders, the series was commissioned by Impossible Foods, creator of the Impossible Burger, but it is much less tied to advertising than meets the eye.
We had a chance to catch up with Spiegel to discuss his new mini-series, as well as music, Impossible Foods, and his future as artist and creator.
How’s it going, Sam? Great, great. I just came back from Chicago this morning and I am in the middle of this insane project which is completely exhausting but really fun.
Is that the film project with Wu-Tang Clan I’ve been hearing about? What’s that like? Yep. It’s just insane. I mean, I’m a huge Wu-Tang fan. I bought Enter the Wu [36 Chambers] the day it came out, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with a bunch of different members quite a bit over the years. But, you know, directing is kind of a new thing for me, and to get to do it like this, it’s basically some of my favorite stuff. It’s Wu-Tang, and space, and the other things that have been big, huge influences on me and big parts of my career. Like my whole N.A.S.A. [North America, South America] project, that was all space-themed and had several members of Wu-Tang in it, including the last-ever O.D.B. recording. So it’s like I’m getting to do my new, favorite artistic expression with some very familiar, well-loved themes.
Where does your interest in space come from? How did that all start? I don’t know. I mean, I had this book called Our Universe when I was a kid. It was like this ‘80s science fiction book. And I’ve just always loved space and found it fascinating. I think I love the unfamiliar. The unknown and the unfamiliar are some things I’ve always been drawn to. And space, there’s so much mystery around it. We know very little about it but it’s this vast, endless thing that dwarfs us in size and scale and is pretty much mostly mystery. I think that’s why I love it. And I also just think it’s beautiful. Planets are beautiful, stars and nebulas. I just find it really beautiful.
So can you give more insight on this film project with Wu-Tang? It’s kind of like a web-series. It’s coming in webisodes, and it’s them [Wu-Tang] in space. We released the teaser already. Basically, RZA has uploaded himself into a digital consciousness and he’s now the R-Z-A-9-Triple-0, formally known as the RZA. The teaser invited people to call a member and ask questions to the Wu-Tang Clan. So now, they’re omniscient and can answer all the earthly questions. We proceeded to get thousands of questions on this voicemail we set up after the teaser, and then we created this show, which is with Impossible Burger. Do you know Impossible Foods?
Is that the super vegan stuff? Yeah, it’s like this vegetarian burger that tastes exactly like meat. And that’s coming to White Castle now, and the company [Impossible Foods] is super punk. The CEO is this great guy, Pat Brown, and he’s just like, ‘I don’t care what we do, it doesn’t have to be product-y at all. I just want to fuck shit up and make something that’s awesome.’ And so he kind of just let us make this awesome episodic series. They’re very short episodes, but episodes of Wu-Tang in space, going on adventures, fighting aliens, and also answering these calls from Earth. It’s pretty fun.
And I assume you’d get broad artistic freedom if you’re not tied to product placement and stuff like that, right? Yeah, that’s what’s so awesome about [this]. Just the spirit of Impossible [Foods] in general is so punk rock and just wanting to fuck shit up. That’s the encouragement we’ve been hearing from them and Pat: ‘Fuck shit up. I just want you to fuck shit up. I want you to make something awesome that people love. That’s what matters to me.’ And just that spirit has guided the project because it’s totally insane. It’s weird. It’s irreverent. It’s absurd. And I think you really feel that spirit in there.
Does Squeak E. Clean have a hand in this project at all? Yep. I’ve been doing the music along with the Squeak E. Clean team. Squeak E. Clean is also doing the sound engineering and mixing. Basically, Squeak E. Clean is doing all the audio stuff, the whole team is on it.
Your past ads are almost like short films, so where do you see your advertising pursuits going in the future? Now that I’m doing more directing, I don’t know, I just want to continue to do great stuff. I think there’s great brands out there that are willing to do cool, weird, unprecedented stuff and just make awesome shit and know that their brand is going to look great if they’re associated with awesome shit being made. And, you know, I love that. I love that ability and love that there’s these brands that are willing to do that. And I want to continue to do it because it’s fun.
Musically speaking, you just released “One Last Time” with Goldilox, co-produced by George Reid [of AlunaGeorge]. What was that process like and how was it working with those artists? It was awesome. I’ve known Goldi for a while and we were trying to figure out something to do together, and we ended up doing that song. I had composed the track with George and it was actually the first time ever meeting him. We immediately hit it off and made a bunch of dope beats, and [“One Last Time”] was kind of my favorite one. And I think Goldi is such a sexy person, and you just feel it in her music. And this song has such a sexy vibe to it that I thought that would be a good marriage to have her on there. And she killed it.
So you’re really into directing right now, but as far as your future as a musician, do you have a vision for the future of your musical career? I mean, I’m going to keep making music because it’s just part of who I am. I love making music, I love writing song, I love releasing music, I love DJ’ing. And I think the more I direct, the more the music I’m making is going to be tied to projects I’m directing. I think there’s some stuff coming in the future that’s going to be records tied to films tied to live performance. So, experience, film, and music kind of all tied together conceptually. I’m really excited right now about growing these multi-medium projects where I’m thinking, ‘Okay, how does this work film-ically? How does this work musically? How does this work experientially?’ That’s the thing I’m really excited about, and I’ve got some stuff I’m developing that will culminate with all three of those mediums being serviced by creativity. Oh, and one other thing is that I’ve got a lot of music coming. I’m releasing a song like every month that’ll come out with a new feature. About one a month, and that’s something else I’m really excited about. Some songs I’ve had cooking for a long time, and it’s been really fun finishing them all.