From El Guincho to the VMAs: How Spanish Production Crew CANADA Cultivated Their Retro Visual Style

Still from Tame Impala's "The Less I Know The Better" video.

What do El Guincho, Justice, Los Punsetes, and Tame Impala have in common? The masterminds behind many of their music videos: CANADA, a production company and label based in Barcelona.

CANADA was founded in 2008 by directors Lope Serrano and Nicolas Méndez along with Luis Cerveró (who left in 2013). Since then, the duo has harvested nothing but success. In 2010, they struck gold with the music video for “Bombay,” a cut from El Guincho’s Pop Negro record. Over the last six years, CANADA has worked closely with Pablo Díaz-Reixa as he’s cultivated his glitchy Balearic pop sound. The production crew has become known for their meticulous and quirky visual style, an aesthetic characterized by pastel color palettes and vintage nostalgia.

Fast forward to 2016. This year, CANADA earned a nomination for “Best Direction” at the MTV Video Music Awards, thanks to their work on Tame Impala’s “The Less I Know The Better” video.

We caught up with Lope Serrano about the growth of CANADA, developing the production company’s identity, and their VMA nomination.

Remezcla: Getting a nomination for an MTV Video Music Award is like every director and music video maker’s childhood dream. Was that something that was on your checklist or was it completely unexpected?
Lope Serrano: Well, to tell you the truth, I never thought I would end up at the VMAs. Once you’re there, you realize that it is something that every artist and singer has ever thought about. They are the stars, and the whole ceremony is made for them to shine. So yeah, it was fun and delirious.

El Guincho’s “Bombay” video was groundbreaking for CANADA’s story. It made you an example when it comes to careful retro aesthetics. Was that identity something you consciously planned and executed?
Of course. Internet searching and the Tumblr aesthetic were the conceptual basis of the video – a video that was trying to be a nice and sexy update of Carl Sagan’s images, which were sent to space in 1977 on the Voyager probe.

What were the things about El Guincho or Los Punsetes that drew your attention and made you want to work with them?
We had a previous friendship with both El Guincho and Los Punsetes, so there was some sort of mutual understanding right from the start, which makes everything way easier.

If we balance out budget and final outcome, is there any project in particular that you feel particularly proud of?
To tell you the truth, I can’t think about any project that’s better than the other if I have to balance out those two items.

CANADA is a production company created by directors and not producers (contrary to the structure of most production companies). What are the pros and cons of this aspect of the business?
CANADA is the name under which three filmmakers and a producer, Alba Barneda, started working in 2008. Then it turned into a production company, especially after Oscar Romagosa’s arrival as an executive producer in 2010. Anyway, my feeling is that at CANADA, production and direction are related in such a way that we directors understand the limits and needs of the producers, and at the same time, producers are sensitive to the demands of the directors. That’s a general rule. I don’t know if the fact that directors are the owners determines the way we work as a company. Maybe it does, but of course, I need some perspective to see if that’s how it is.

You’re represented by The Directors Bureau in the United States, a company that has directors like Wes Anderson and Sofia Coppola among its ranks. Have you had the chance to get to know any of them? Do you feel like you come from a common place, creatively speaking?
We don’t know them personally, although we have met with Roman Coppola, founder and director of the company. He is certainly a lovely man. And yes, we have a special affinity with him and everyone at The Directors Bureau. We feel proud to be working with them.