We dug deep to bring you artist and directors who are totally changing the conventions of music videos. Here are some of our favourites from 2014 (in no particular order):
FKA Twigs: Two Weeks
Two Weeks is a siren’s song in which FKA Twigs is seducing someone from another relationship. In the Nabil-directed video, Twigs looks nothing short of an Egyptian sun goddess, dripping in gold with a Twigian tribe as her court (she plays every role in case you haven’t noticed). The video is one long panning shot, slowly rolling out the grandeur of the entire scene. The video appears to be a nod to movie ‘The Queen of the Damned’ where Aaliyah plays a badass vampire. The video showcases Twig’s empowered brand of femininity.
Tommy Kruise: Hers
Director Martin Pariseau is demystifying our notions of mental illness in Tommy Kruise’s Hers video (I was really taken aback and pleasantly surprised the first time I watched it). The video follows Bogdan Chiochiu, a (real-life) fan of Kruise’s with Asperger’s syndrome. Pariseau met Bogdan in Cejep, a pre-grad institution in Quebec. Bogdan speaks six languages, is passionate about his music, and is obsessed with radio waves. Parsieau paints the picture of how isolating life can be when institutionalized, but also makes audiences realize that they have more in common with Bogdan than they think.
Arca and Jesse Kanda: Trauma 1
Trauma is an ongoing film project by Arca and Jesse Kanda that was first partially exhibited at Moma PS1. Their works together are wonderfully demented. Trauma’s score takes from Arca’s musical works. Scene I depicts a disfigured baby dance crew – think Missy Elliot gone totally off the deep end – celebrating their inner and outer beauty in the limelight.
Jamie XX, Four Tet, Koreless, and John Talabot score Sofia Mattioli’s Continuum
Blame it on my bias for these producers being some of my favorites, but the concept of this video is why it’s on this list. The London-based artist and writer, Sofia Mattioli and collaborator Rebecca Salvadori presented a silent film they made to the four musicians; each was given a different bit of the movie to compose music for. Although separately written, all the songs flow seamlessly together and bring out the essence of their various sections of film.
Tiga’s Bugatti music video is as if Luis Buñuel remade “Aspen Extreme”. The video consists of a deadpan Tiga and bits of surrealist corporate and ski scenes. Humorous, twisted, and 80’s aesthetic-fueled, director Helmi has perfectly embodied the quirky, fun attitude of the song.
Future Brown: Vernáculo
Future Brown’s Vernáculo is a tripped out reggaeton track featuring the dirty rhymes of Maluca. The video sheds light on the ridiculousness of beauty advertising by appropriating its language and esthetics. Future Brown products function as the base for physical perfection. It was commissioned by Pérez Art Museum Miami, who describe it as “an exercise in capitalist surrealism”.
Perfume Genius: Queen
Cody Critcheloe (SSION) directed the video that follows the journey of Mike Hadreas (Perfume Genius) and a female companion. The two are on a quest to find themselves – or something – I think. The video was inspired by the reactions that Hadreas faces to his identity by macho insecure dudes. The video is a charming surrealist tale about embracing yourself.
Mykki Blanco: She Gutta
It’s been a busy year for Mykki Blanco. Between creating music with the legendary Kathleen Hanna, and showing non-stop love and support for her contemporaries in Russia (currently swamped with oppressive anti-gay legislation) through various means, Blanco dropped the video for She Gutta, and it’s hectic (in the best way possible, of course). The video is shot like a documentary and follows the fictitious LA gangs Hoover Locos, Shadow Park Locos, and the Columbia Lol Psychos (that last one gave me a good laugh). The mainstream media’s frigid stereotypes are shaken up as nightwalker-esque women are thuggish with agency and homosexuality is paralleled with machoness. Violent news clips intermingle with anime cartoons which further adds to the videos manic energy. Mykki Blanco is the dopest.
Jamie XX: Sleep Sound
Directors Sofia Mattioli and Cherise Payne explore the themes of silence and sound. Inspired by personal experiences, the video follows a group of hearing impaired people from the Manchester Deaf Center who discover music through dance, emotion, and imagination. Warning: this one pulls at the heartstrings.
GEMS: Sinking Stone
The video for GEMS’ Sinking Stone tells the story of two love struck youngings getting in trouble with a couple of gangsters. Directed by BRTHR, the trippy film stars everyone’s favorite ratchet siblings, the ATL Twins. It's the kind of short that makes you crave trouble and a Bonnie and Clyde style romance.