Note: The videos below are generally NSFW (sexual content).
"We are about to begin a journey through the cosmos," El Guincho says, speaking straight to the camera. It's 2010, and the Spanish musician is introducing us to the music video for his song "Bombay." "Come with me," he says, before the video breaks into an ecstatic five minutes of surrealist, erotic and psychedelic supercuts. "Bombay" became immediately memorable, its distinctive aesthetic a calling card for the Barcelona-based production company behind the video, CANADA. "It gave us the true breakthrough of CANADA," says Oscar Romagosa, one of its leading members and the first producer to join what started as a three-director collective in 2008. Helmed by Lope Serrano, Nicolás Méndez and Luis Cerveró, the directors got together "because what they could do in their spare time — the music videos and the more experimental film — was more fulfilling to them than what was happening in the more commercial line in advertising."
Since then CANADA has immersed itself across all moving formats, creating ads for the likes of Ikea, Uniqlo and Coca-Cola, short films that have garnered a slew of accolades and music videos for a diverse array of artists, from Beck to Hinds, Rosalía and The Charlatans. CANADA's website, which allows streaming of their entire archive, is a veritable creative roster comprised of projects big to small and featuring clients and collaborators from all over the world.
Not a small feat for a company with truly independent origins.
After their initial success with "Bombay" CANADA's recognition expanded beyond Catalonia. "A lot of foreign production companies reached out to us to try to represent the collective in their markets," Romagosa says. The leap was unsurprisingly welcome in America and in Europe; "Bombay" was the definitive video for the era of American Apparel and NYLON Magazine, spurring copycats across a cultural world rapidly growing as the internet evolved. But CANADA stayed ahead in its role as creative pioneers, a testament to the members of the team — all visionaries with roaring imaginations.
But a few years after their breakthrough, CANADA was facing internal problems: one of the three founding directors had left the collective, which was at this point steadfast becoming a powerhouse production company. "That was a moment where we had to redefine ourselves," Romagosa recalls. "The first thing we did right after we decided to keep going was the Crème Caramel video, which was one of our biggest successes." The 2014 short film is an erotic visual love note, in which a female voice describes everything a man loves about the woman in it, from her graceful lips to her tan in the summer, watching her ass and staring at her breath.
"It was a little bit of our statement," says Romagosa. "When we were going through difficult moments we turned out this really CANADIAN piece that defines very well who we were and who we are."
Crème Caramel was a manifesto that continued the same ecstatic and playful imagery CANADA had been creating in the past, with nods to some of the greatest filmmakers, like Jean Luc Godard, Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick. But the short film added a layer of certain boldness that came with age and the support of their prior success. It was CANADA's flag, planting itself firmly into the ground.
The company's strong visual identity gave them a road map for selecting collaborators, most of whom joined CANADA in the very beginning of their careers, allowing them to create their own brands from scratch with their own personalities. And aside from an aesthetic alignment, their yearning for originality, not money, is what drives their ethos. "We look at the job's potential...and how deep we can go artistically," explains Romagosa.
When asked what some of his favorite CANADA projects have been Romagosa laughs, "It's hard to choose because it's like you love all your kids the same, you know?" But within their meaningful creative experiences their work with Phoenix for "Trying To Be Cool," and Tame Impala for "The Less I Know The Better" stand out, both of which were meticulously thought out while still allowing for improvisational creativity — the encapsulation of the CANADA way of working.
For Tame Impala's video Oscar recalls the serendipity of the location they shot in; an old government-owned building that, because it was abandoned, they could camp into for three days to get every perfect shot. "It felt like being a kid and going to camp. There was a very creative and artistic ambience, which went down through to the video itself. There was an atmosphere for magic to happen." Both videos have been immensely successful, sitting atop the bands' most memorable work.
CANADA's 10 year trajectory has shown a company that is not only attuned to culture, but very much at the forefront of it, adapting to a fast-changing world of media while also creating their own set of rules inside it. With their integration into vertical video — the newest territory being explored since the rise of Instagram and Snapchat — CANADA is showing yet again that it understands the flow of the future as it is being created.