All Songs Considered Blog
10:03 am
Wed September 5, 2012

First Watch: Moon Duo, 'Sleepwalker'

If you're too young to remember the 1980s, you'll have to take my word for it: We thought we were pretty cool. New Coke, pink Izods, hair metal and The A-Team. We really turned pop culture on its head! (We didn't turn pop culture on its head.)

Of all the trends that seemed fantastically modern back then, few things said "the '80s" more than aerobics and the requisite leg warmers and unitards. The San Francisco band Moon Duo revives this exercise phenomenon — and everything that now seems ludicrous about it — in a new video for its song "Sleepwalker."

The scene, led by a mysterious guru, is both hilarious and terrifying (things get pretty creepy by the end). Fortunately, it's not scored by Sweatin' to the Oldies or Culture Club, but by Moon Duo's fabulously funked-out space rock.

"The original idea was to do a straight aerobics instructional video in the classic '80s style: humorous but also useful, something you could really work out to," says one-half of Moon Duo, Ripley Johnson. "We realized it would be more entertaining and practical to do something narrative, and [Moon Duo's] Sanae [Yamada] came up with the idea of a young couple finding an aerobics-class flyer on the street. The story ideas rolled forth from there, and by the time we cast King Khan as the instructor, we had a full-tilt aerobics cult story, with mystic logo, abduction, crazy costumes, the whole nine yards."

Ripley and Yamada are the DJs seen at the back of the aerobics classroom. They shot the video in Berlin with an all-volunteer cast, including Canadian musician King Khan (Arish Ahmad Khan).

"Sleepwalker" is the opening track to Moon Duo's latest album, Circles, due out Oct. 2 on Sacred Bones Records.

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