Twenty Øne Piløts recently released two songs for their new album “Trench”: “Jumpsuit” and “Nico and the Niners.” If you haven’t yet heard this news, you were asleep. Time to wake up.
First off, the people I know who are TØP fans either really like or dislike their new songs. I think this is either because “Jumpsuit” and “Nico and the Niners” are different from their Blurryface tracks in style (especially “Nico and the Niners,” which is defintely more hip-hop and surprisingly my favorite of the two). I feel that to completely understand the lyrics, you have to be up to date with what Tyler and Josh have been doing during their year-long hiatus, which involved stuff like letters from “Clancy,” that they posted on a DMA website (referenced in “Nico and the Niners” as a place, “Dema”). At least they kept the fans busy hyping over clues they dropped on there once in a while. They’re worse than Gollum and his riddles.
I like the style of “Nico and the Niners,” but the lyrics and the music video for “Jumpsuit” are just beautiful. After listening to the song and rewatching the video again and again, and looking up Genius.com interpretations of the lyrics and watching The Pop Song Professor’s take on it, I decided that, FINALLY, we have a music video that actually makes sense and follows the lyrics. And that music video happens to be one done by my favorite band. Needless to say, I was excited.
Music Video Context
When I first published this post, I put a disclaimer here saying that I’m not a “hyper fan” who has been up day and night watching for signs of life of Clancy and his letters about Dema. I knew very little about this Dema storyline, and said that knowing what Twenty Øne Piløts stood for and the concept of Blurryface was enough to interpret their music video, and that’s true. But I’m updating this post because I just watched a video explaining the Dema storyline (warning: there is swearing), and the theories brought up connecting the Blurryface and the Trench album music videos make a lot of sense. I got really excited watching it, because it explains a lot, cue my (unpopular) tweet:
The whole TØP Dema storyline (which starts way back with the Blurryface album) is so intricate & deep & symbolic that one could write an entire novel based on just the details TØP implicitly provides in their songs and music videos. HELP.
This is why I love this band so much.
— S. M. Metzler (@SM_Metzler) August 13, 2018
Here’s a little bit of basic background on Dema and Clancy:
The Dema storyline starts way back with the Blurryface album. Dema is an impenatrable tower of silence representing our own dark thoughts, housing a cultish organization ruled by nine bishops who control the prisoners inside. Nico is one of the bishops, and he is also Blurryface. Clancy (Tyler’s alter-ego) is the name of a prisoner who, motivated by drummer Josh, puts together a rebellion to escape Dema. The story of escape is shown in their music video of “Heathens,” and is referenced in “Nico and the Niners”: The rebellion wins, but not everyone got out; Tyler stays in Dema’s prison. In the Heavydirtysoul music video, the storyline continues as Dema sends Tyler out in a car he can’t control to lure the rebels (also known as the “banditos”). The rebellion sends out Josh on his drumset to corner Dema and free Clancy. The car passes Josh multiple times, trying to kill him, but eventually Tyler takes control of the car.
Also, a little bit of context on “Jumpsuit” and behind the name of Twenty Øne Piløts: Tyler named his band thus after studying a play (All My Sons by Arthur Miller) about a man who commits suicide when he learns that he’s the cause of the death of 21 pilots in World War II, and this story of moral dilemma inspired Tyler to name the band after those 21 pilots. Tyler says, about the story: “it’s a constant reminder that you have to make the right decision even though it may be the hard decision. It seems vague, but you would be surprised how many times it applies to a band’s life and…an individual’s life” (Tyler Joseph, “How Twenty One Pilots got their name” on YouTube).
I also looked up what a jumpsuit is, and it’s also called a “flight suit” that air force pilots wear to keep warm. It’s durable, has lots of pockets, and includes fire retardant. Pilots rely on these suits for physical comfort and safety, and when Tyler (the singer from Twenty Øne PILØTs) sings “jumpsuit, jumpsuit, cover me,” he’s relying on his jumpsuit to give him emotional and spiritual security, not unlike the way the jumpsuit provides pilots with physical stability. In the music video, it seems like Tyler is kind of using his jumpsuit as an emotional or spiritual barrier or defensive weapon, a protective bubble around him.
(This is where you cue me squealing because what these guys come up with is just so fascinating and I could analyze it forever, but that’s unrealistic.)
OKAY. That being said, I can move on to actually doing what I promised you in this post’s name: Interpreting the music video for “Jumpsuit.”
Music Video Interpretation Part 1
The video begins with a shot of the car from the “Heavydirtysoul” music video, continuing the Dema storyline we just discussed earlier. There’s only metal left, and there’s a LOT of smoke from the fire (which must have disappeared recently). Tyler walks into the frame and jumps up on the car and gets down on his knees and says “we’ve been here the whole time. You were asleep. Time to wake up.” And then a fire blazes to life from inside the car. I definitely think this sequence symbolizes Twenty Øne Piløts’s return from their hiatus—they’re “waking up,” coming back.
(Now you may understand my reference from this post’s introduction.)
Then we cut to a beautiful aerial shot of a gulf (filmed in Reykjavík, Iceland), and see Tyler (A.K.A. Clancy) lying in a stream. It’s rumored to be that ever since the Heavydirtysoul video, he spent months trying to find his rebellion, and this is where we find him. He gets up and starts walking, looking disoriented, and we see he’s wearing a green jacket with yellow tape strips on it—his “jumpsuit.” During the 14th or so time watching it, I realized that, symbolically speaking, if Tyler is a pilot looking for the other 20 pilots of his rebellion, this whole shot sequence makes it look as if his plane crashed and he landed in a random chasm, possibly unconscious.
We get our first crescendo when we jump from the ravine shot to a shot of a man in a bright red cloak and a veil over his face riding a white horse in slo-mo on a barren plain with a couple of close-up shots of the horse’s face and the rider’s hands. He runs full speed into the same gulf we found Tyler in. My reactions jumped from “that’s weird, what in the world,” to “wow, that’s a cool shot, how aesthetically pleasing,” to “OH MY GOODNESS THAT’S BLURRYFACE, ISN’T IT?!” And yes, it’s Blurryface. Also known as Nico.
Tyler starts singing as he walks, looking around him as if lost. (“I can’t believe how much I hate / pressures of a new place roll my way”) We notice a small scratch on his nose, which was there in their last music video “Heathens.” As he sings “jumpsuit, jumpsuit, cover me,” he looks up and sees figures appearing on the cliff edge above him. When we first see this video with no Dema or Heathens context, these intimidating figures obviously pose some kind of unknown threat. Turns out, these figures are the rebellion he’s been supposedly searching for all this time—the “banditos” (there were in Heathens, and we see them in the “Nico and the Niners” music video) they express their benevolence towards Tyler towards the end of this music video and into the Nico and the Niners and Levitate music video.
During this music video, we cut back once in a while to the other Tyler with his shaved head and infamous black Vans lace-ups on the car, dancing with the flames as he sings (“I crumble underneath the way / pressures of a new place roll my way”). I don’t know exactly why there are two different Tylers in this video (the one on the car that’s set on fire and the jumpsuit pilot one) or why we cut back between them, and I don’t know what the car shots are supposed to mean either. If you have any speculations about the car and the Tyler from the “Heavydirtysoul” video, please voice your thoughts in the comments!!!
Then we have another shot of Tyler looking concerned, up at the cliffs around him as more and more people gather at the edge. (“jumpsuit, jumpsuit, cover me / jumpsuit, jumpsuit, cover me”) During the musical bridge (the same as the intro), he spins around, unable to ignore the growing myriad of stares from above him, and he trips and falls into the stream. We then cut back to Tyler on the car, and then a split second flash of nine bishops in a cathedral: Nico and the Niners, which is referenced more in the song “Nico and the Niners.” Is Tyler momentarily having a flashback? Or a vision? Memories of Dema he can’t erase? It’s possible that he hasn’t yet recognized the banditos on the cliff as the members of his rebellion who escaped when he couldn’t, and now they’re back for him — but they’re reminding him of Dema, the place they were enslaved in together — though he probably doesn’t realize it yet.
Tyler gets up (“spirits in the room / friend or foe / felt it in my youth / feel it when I’m old / jumpsuit, jumpsuit, cover me”) and turns to see Nico on his white horse running towards him at full speed. Two different shots of Tyler zoom in on him, the next closer than the first, as if being seen from the perspective of Blurryface on his galloping horse. He stands there, unflinching, and doesn’t run from the danger like he should. Instead, he closes his eyes. At this point, either Nico is casting a trance over Tyler, or what’s going is my original theory that he’s giving himself over to trusting in his jumpsuit, hoping it will protect and cover him from Blurryface (“jumpsuit, jumpsuit, cover me”). Either way, Tyler isn’t running away, and he’s either under Dema’s powers—the demons Blurryface embodies—or he’s hoping that his jumpsuit will cover him. It’s quite possible that the former is the case, and you’ll understand as we go on.
Yes, I know this is a very convenient spot to stop at, but if I analyzed the entire music video and talked in length about the meaning behind the song, I would have a very, very long post on my hands. I don’t know about you, but I like blog posts that take me less than fifteen minutes to read. To find out what happens to Tyler and Blurryface, tune in next week to catch the rest of the music video analysis and song interpretation. Or, just go watch the video and form an analysis and opinion of it yourself, and leave it in the comment section here! I’d love to know what you think of the song, the music video, and Twenty Øne piløts in general. Thanks for reading, don’t forget to check back next week for Part 2, and have a great week!