Tharsis Sleeps

The embroidery in this animation is the first clue that this is not your average heavy metal music video.

What’s the connection between embroidery and heavy metal music? The answer is this music video for "Tharsis Sleeps" by Throne, a three-piece doom metal band from London.

The epic embroidered stop-motion animation, directed by the band’s vocalist and guitarist, Nicos Livsey, is a labour of love whose production is a weird mishmash of high-tech and handmade. Each frame of the video was drawn by hand on a tablet, translated into an embroidery pattern, machine stitched and then photographed, to make this crazy visual journey.

The animation was produced over a period of eight months by Livsey and his frequent collaborator Tom Bunker. He writes the band's lyrics after the music has been composed, interpreting the sound and deciding on the track's subject matter. In this instance he was able to carry his ideas further by translating them into visuals. This is familiar territory for the multi-talented Livsey as, apart from his musical activities, he is an in-demand freelance animator, illustrator and director known for his work for Addidas, BBC Radio 1 and This Is It Collective.

For this music video he looked for inspiration to the embroidered rock and metal band patches that caught his eye as a youth. He remembered encountering an embroidery machine as a child and being mesmerised by it. Years later when designing band patches himself, he realised it was a nifty way to create images for animation.

The video started as a 90-second short in black and white and was only upgraded to a full-length video complete with narrative when sewing machine company Brother offered the band the use of some cutting-edge equipment. However, with the prospect of 3,000 individual frames to create, digitise, embroider and photograph, the full scope of the project began to dawn on Livsey and Bunker. The massive undertaking made them more determined. The two ran a Kickstarter campaign that was a success in just 17 days, raising nearly £8,000 to help them afford materials, outsource some of the digitising and mount an exhibition that capped the project.

Livsey's graphic style was inspired by 1950s-era images from NASA and science fiction, he says, adding a retro touch that suits the music of this doom metal outfit. The fact that it's the band's first music video makes it all the more remarkable.