Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry got his start making videos, and his work with the White Stripes has been exemplary. Now he holds the honor of (most likely) being the first person ever to inspire a song on a massive summer rock album: Gondry sent the band a video treatment that became ”I’m Slowly Turning Into You,” a song off the Stripes’ upcoming album, Icky Thump (out June 19). Going all the way back to 2002’s first ”block”-headed clip for ”Fell In Love With A Girl,” we talk to the insanely creative Frenchman about his Striped past.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So you’ve done four videos with the White Stripes, and your upcoming fifth has inspired a song on Icky Thump. It’s for ”I’m Slowly Turning Into You?”
MICHEL GONDRY: Yeah, it’s interesting. At the time we did the videos for ”Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” and ”Hardest Button to Button,” my girlfriend was the stylist. She helped me with the videos. And she was a little — not frustrated, but a little disappointed that she couldn’t really style the band, because they come with their own clothes. She said she was not doing the cool stuff. And I said to myself, Okay, I’m gonna find a way to shoot a video for them that makes her have to dress them. So I got this idea to do human morphing between Meg and Jack by using intermediate people. The first person would be exactly like Meg. And the next person would be 10 percent like Jack and 90 percent like Meg. Then the tenth person would be 50 percent like Jack and 50 percent like Meg, and then at the end they look much more like Jack, and then we end up with Jack. So you would see Meg turning into Jack. So then Meg has to wear white pants and Jack wears red pants, which is often the case — but in the middle, the pants have to be pink. She would have to make all those tones, and it would give her a much more important job. So I was having this idea to make my girlfriend happy.
That’s nice of you.
In the meantime, she left me.
And I gave the idea to Jack, and that gave him the idea to write the song.
That turned out to be a very sad story.
[Laughs] Yes, despite everything I could do for my girlfriend, she still left me.
I think this is the first time where something like this has happened — an artist as high-profile as Jack White has written a song based on a video treatment.
Yes, it’s very flattering.
NEXT PAGE: Gondry on ”Hardest Button to Button”: ”We had to find 32 Ludwig drum kits.”