D.A. Stern is quirky. Not in a hipster performative, overdone way but in a “he’s an adorable weirdo” kind of way. Take for instance, his new video “Tall Girlfriend” which was written from a short guy’s perspective about his towering girlfriend and the awkward (and sometimes helpful) size differences of normal day-to-day life. But the video doesn’t exactly follow that narrative closely. Instead, he repositions the narrative to follow a charming and rather cutesy story about a female couple – one pocket-sized, the other altitudinous. Oh, and D.A. Stern is in the video too… baroquely dressed, complete with powdered face and wig and ornate and ostentatious clothing, which begs you to think, “What a weirdo.” “There is no real reason for why I’m dressed in a cheap rococo costume, other than it was lying around and seemed to underline the surreal inanity of the whole thing,” he laughs.
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This odd and quirky indie artist originally hails from Bergen County, NJ where they still close stores on Sundays in observance of secular worship. Escaping that repressed morality, he spent time in nearby NYC where he worked at Beastie Boy Adam Yauch’s studio Oscilloscope Laboratories while performing in the well-respected but woefully underappreciated indie band The Sanctuaries. Deciding it was time to go west and move to Los Angeles, he was able to develop unhindered and mutate into a full-on quirky artist.
His upcoming EP Mmxxtape which is comprised of covers and collaborations with artists such as Chris Tomson of Vampire Weekend, Fat Tony & Colleen Green, among others, also features the cover “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Weird Al Yankovic who he adores and feels opened the doors to a wide-ranging appreciation of music. “I believe [‘Weird’ Al] is an unheralded contributing factor for many people’s eclectic tastes,” he explains. “If you listened to a ‘Weird’ Al record at a young age, you could have been hearing (and liking!) alternative rock, rap, country, doo-wop, polka, tin pan alley, Top 40 pop, etc. and I think that’s a very positive impression to be made during one’s formative listening years.”
Also included on the EP is the aforementioned “Tall Girlfriend,” a collaboration with indie artist Alex Winston who lends her vocals to the track. “I’ve been a fan of D.A.’s music since [his album] Aloha Hola and I love how much personality and wit goes into his work,” Winston says of Stern. “He’s like the lovechild of Harry Nilsson and Jerry Seinfeld… maybe George Costanza. Or maybe it’s Harry Nilsson and Yakov Smirnoff. Anyway, as soon as I heard the song, I immediately knew I wanted to sing on it.”
A winsome and perky song accented with Winston’s angelic vocals perched high above the breezy rhythms (much like the tall girlfriend above her petite partner), “Tall Girlfriend” is pure and unadulterated darling pop. The accompanying video which the adorably twee relationship correlates the couple’s size difference with quick cuts of different sized lighters and pencils, oh, and Stern dressed in rococo playing a miniature keyboard, is nicely matched with its lyrical narrative. “The video for ‘Tall Girlfriend’ is pretty much a literal interpretation of a joke,” he explains. “The song follows, more or less, a set-up/punchline structure so we wanted the video to emphasize the humor behind it. It was obvious that we needed two people who were exceptionally mismatched in height so casting was everything.”
In order to turn up the charm and the surprise ending, director Thaddeus Ruzicka set up a simple narrative. He concludes, “Thaddeus took it up a notch by introducing a story about a tall businesswomen’s convention, which always reminded me of Romy and Michele in the best possible way.”
Photo by Aaron Oxford