Sydney design studio’s surprise call from Bieber
When a small Sydney design studio received a phone call from an American record label recently, their reaction was mainly disbelief.
"It came through on the landline and of course of the 10 calls we get on that line per day, seven of them are telemarketers," says Billy Ryan, who heads up the Surry Hills animation and design agency Babekuhl.
But on this occasion the call came from Universal Music's American headquarters - and the person on the end of the line represented the world's biggest pop star, Justin Bieber.
Impressed by the small Aussie studio's work on another music video, by US R & B soul outfit The Free Nationals, Bieber wanted them to work some similar magic for his new track Yummy.
"The girl in the office who took the call told me in the sense that I think she thought it was a bit of a joke," laughs Ryan.
"She said: 'Um, I just got this call from Universal in the States and they said something about working with them on a Justin Bieber song'.
"All I could say was, 'Well … that is certainly out of the blue'."
There was one small caveat, however. The studio had only a small turnaround time - just under 10 hours to be exact - to deliver the clip in time for its worldwide release on January 9.
"It was a challenge," says Ryan.
"But something of this magnitude you just have to do what you have to do and work with what they give you."
The good news is Bieber was happy to let the Down Under team's imagination run wild. And soon the video, which was released as a companion clip to the official music video for Bieber's first new track since his 2015 album Purpose, dropped on YouTube.
Within a few hours it had racked up one million views and counting.
For the humble animaters from Sydney, the opportunity has been monumental.
"We're just a little studio in Sydney, you know," says Ryan.
"This is just massive for us. It's absolutely massive. A great start to the year that's for sure.
"Hopefully what we have done … other smaller outfits can look at us and go, 'OK, this really is possible'.
"Maybe we can serve as a little bit of inspiration to others out there."