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Release date Nov 01, 2022

I'm Only Sleeping

Promotional film • For The Beatles • Directed by Em Cooper

Last updated on August 1, 2023


  • Release date: Nov 01, 2022

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To promote the 2022 reissue of the “Revolver” album, Apple Corps published a promo video for The Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping“. This was the second promo video to support the “Revolver” reissue, after the release of “Taxman” on October 14, 2022. A third video to illustrate “Here, There and Everywhere” would be published on December 7, 2022.

From YouTube:

Beautiful harmonies, experimental recording methods and avant-garde composition combine to create this dreamlike song, evocative of The Beatles’ pioneering approach to the music of Revolver. Artist and director Em Cooper explored the space between dreaming and wakefulness, working on an animation rostrum on sheets of celluloid. She painted every frame individually in oil-paint, a labourious process which took many months.

It was a project that I felt an immediate spark for right from the word go, and somehow that momentum carried me right through to the end. I love The Beatles. We used to listen to this song on tape in the car when I was a child, and the song itself evokes such a mesmerising, languid, dreamy state, in a way my job was only to follow its lead with a paintbrush in my hand.

Artist and director Em Cooper – From I’m Only Sleeping | Em Cooper | Project | Jelly UK (thisisjelly.com)

I began with the thought that this would simply be John drifting in and out of sleep, flowing between wakefulness and memory and peppered with surreal moments, dipping into the history of The Beatles, with everything fleeting and ungraspable. But the meanings of the film soon began to spread out, encompassing The Beatles’ anti-war feelings and reflecting on our place in the world.

In my work, I’ve always been interested in using paint to evoke thought or subjective experience – the way things flow inside your mind. So for me, this song which sways between the inner world of sleep and the outer world of waking was a thrilling and beautiful opportunity.

Em Cooper – Artist and director – From I’m Only Sleeping: Em Cooper animates 1,300 of her oil paintings to create new music video for The Beatles | Creative Boom

The film is made up of individual oil paintings so it is made up I think of over 1,300 paintings. But yeah I’m literally painting a frame, I take a shot and then I usually just wipe it and repaint next shot, I mean next frame, and the next frame, and the next frame, and the next frame… That’s my process, so it’s really old school, it’s just frame by frame. I worked really closely with the archivist from Apple Corps, who really helped me find the right pieces of archive footage of The Beatles to help with this.

The thing I really liked in terms of working in paint for oil paint animation was just the fact that you could kind of communicate subjective experience or kind of inner feelings.

I want to try to kind of convey that sort of sense of the flow that’s going on in your head. I kind of want people to feel a bit like enveloped by the paint. Everything’s kind of fleeting, you can’t really hold on to any one image but I’m hoping that what you get is a sense of just being kind of swayed or held or just kind of taken with the stream almost of the painting.

I’ve always been a Beatles fan and when I saw the opportunity to work on I’m Only Sleeping, it was just like really amazing. It kind of sparked a huge load of ideas straight away for me. It’s just a beautiful song and it’s just got so much in there it felt just like imagery just came to me and just kind of pouring out. And you know obviously you get kind of initial sense of this space between dreaming and waking and kind of wanting to drift back into sleep, but then there were loads of other thoughts that came to me like it feels kind of like, um quite a political song in a way like I feel as though it’s almost like a hymn towards inactivity, invitation to value rest and inefficiency, and I really liked that, because it feels kind of like slightly like a defiant position against the kind of capitalist view of time and a kind of you know we must get everything done, you know, it’s almost like Lennon’s saying like please don’t wake me just you know I’m not hurting anyone by sleeping. I’m also quite interested in that because my style of animation is probably like the most inefficient style of animation you could get. You wouldn’t pick me if you wanted only efficiency in terms of producing animation but I just love painting and painting after painting and it’s not about making something fast and quick… It’s about doing something that you love and doing something slow and that’s what painting is all about for me as well.

Em Cooper – Artist and director – From Making the brand new video for The Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping” with artist Em Cooper – YouTube

From The Beatles (@thebeatles) / Twitter – October 30, 2022 – Coming soon. #TheBeatlesRevolver – From The Beatles on Twitter – October 30, 2022 – Float up stream with the new official music video for I’m Only Sleeping (2022 Mix), premiering Tuesday 1st Nov 9am PDT/4pm GMT. Set a reminder now over on The Beatles YouTube.
Paul McCartney writing

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