Interview: All about “We Do Not Belong”

Here’s the interview Rachel Brodsky did with Sarah and Psychic Friend’s Will Schwartz (posted 9/23/13 at MTV Buzzworthy Blog). Of course it’s about the group’s new music video that stars Schwartz and Sarah.

After watching Psychic Friend’s, er, moving “We Do Not Belong” video, it’s a little hard to know whether we should laugh, cry, or throw up (more on that in a minute). People say that great art often elicits more than one reaction, so let’s just go ahead and say that piano-pop player Psychic Friend’s (aka former Imperial Teen and Hey Willpower member Will Schwartz) latest video IS great art: It’s got music, dancing, an engaging storyline, a tear-jerker ending and, best of all, world-famous comedienne Sarah Silverman! …Who’s looking a little, shall we say, out of it.

Directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp (fiance to fellow comedienne Jenny Slate), “We Do Not Belong” features Silverman playing a psych ward patient who’s had little to no contact (i.e. locked in a basement by her parents) for most of her life. Once institutionalized, only then does she slowly learn how to connect with other humans — specifically, with the help of a sensitive psych doctor played by Schwartz — through music and dance. (Think: Jodie Foster in “Nell” meets “Billy Elliot.”)

From the viewer’s perspective, however, watching “We Do Not Belong” is an emotionally confounding experience: The minute you see Sarah onscreen, you’ll want to laugh, but seeing her bumble her way through rehabilitation and, through Will’s musical tutelage, finally break out of her shell will subsequently result in your (and Sarah’s) messy emotional catharsis. She finally found a way to unfurl her fingers and relate to humans! Will’s weeping with pride! Sarah’s… barfing! We’re cry-barfing!

After having all the cry-barf #feelings, we wanted to know a little more about the making of “We Do Not Belong,” so we called up Sarah and Will, who were all too happy to reveal how they met and the real-life story behind the video.

How did you two originally meet and subsequently collaborate on “We Do Not Belong”?

Will Schwartz: We’re friends and fans of each other.

Sarah Silverman: Yeah, we met when we were 18 and just fell in love. We’ve been close friends ever since. I’m so blown away by this whole album [My Rocks Are Dreams], beginning to end. To me it’s just such a masterpiece, and I begged Will to make a video for one of the songs.

Will: I’ve been so obsessed with Sarah as a performer.


Will: So it made sense.

Cool! So tell me a little bit about the video’s concept. The healer/uncommunicative dynamic kind of reminded me of Liam Neeson and Jodie Foster in “Nell.”

Sarah: Yes! The director, Dean Fleischer-Camp — he and his fiance Jenny Slate did “Marcel The Shell With Shoes On” — is such a beautiful director. The video’s concept is loosely based on this NOVA special that you can see on YouTube from the ’70s called “Secret Of The Wild Child.”

It’s about this girl — in L.A. actually — found chained to a toilet in a basement at 10 years old. Her parents beat her if she made any noise, and she didn’t how to walk or talk. She was brought to the children’s hospital, and all these scientists from all over the world flew in to study her. It was called “The Impossible Experiment” because it’s an experiment scientists would love to be able to conduct, but you can’t create that experiment because it’s inhumane. So it just, like, fell into their lap. And this girl connected with one of the scientists. So [“We Do Not Belong”] is loosely based on that.

Do you believe in music and dance as rehabilitative therapy, as the video suggests?

Sarah: That’s the core of human expression: music and dance. I think expression is a huge porthole…[trails off] You can finish that sentence for me. I think expression is a porthole.

Will: I think it’s an unconscious thematic that I’ve had in videos. In another video for Hey Willpower, for the song “Double Fantasy,” we did a play on John and Yoko’s “Bed In.” The idea of it was “give dance a chance” instead of “give peace a chance.” It’s a simple idea, but with music and dance, it is healing for people.

Sarah, did you improvise the dancing? Or was it choreographed?

Sarah: The director got a choreographer, but I mostly improvised. I also have “moves well” on my resume under “Special Skills.” I’m not kidding when I say that — a lot of people say it’s bulls***, but I really do move well. Although I threw out my back making [the video]. And I barfed at the end because my character moved around so much for the first time in years.

Awwww. So Will, would you say that “We Do Not Belong” fits in thematically with the rest of My Rocks Are Dreams?

Will: Sure. I feel these songs came out of a difficult period for me, but it’s like the act of writing these songs was joyful. I feel like in the album there’s a sense of alienation, but a sense of the joy of creation — not to sound too ridiculous. We actually did a [record] re-release with a remix by YACHT, and Gliss did a remix of “Softer Side.” I am really proud of this music, and I just wanted more people to hear it, and hopefully they will.


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