In the latest dubstep-inspired track by Brooklyn’s The Mast, vocalist Haale Gafori took full directorial duties and turned scenes from her mind into a stark music video for public consumption. Covered with powder for a heightened ethereal effect, Los Angeles-based dancer Pandora Marie pop and locks her way in and out of Gafori’s vocals, as monochrome simplicity eventually projects into full-color silhouettes that pulse in time with glitchy beats.

In the brief Q&A below, Gafori describes the creative process for “UpUpUp” from start to finish, and you can expect to see this video in our upcoming Motion & Movement In Music Video panels for Bumbershoot and MusicfestNW.

 

 


INTERVIEW CONTINUED BELOW

 

You directed the video yourselves. How did it come about?

Once Matt and I finished the tracking on “UpUpUp”, I started having very clear visions about what I wanted to see in the video. I figured I might as well try and materialize them for myself rather than searching for a director to do that. Sometimes going DIY feels easier, as nothing gets lost in translation, and I get to work on the project til I’m satisfied without running a crazy bill! As far as the music goes, Matt [Kilmer] engineers, mixes, and masters all the tracks — so it made sense for me to pick up the visual aspect of things beyond editing and take the leap into directing as well.

 

Who is the dancer, and is she part of a troupe or was she chosen individually?

The dancer is named Pandora Marie. She’s an LA-based dancer and performance artist. I had seen videos of Robert Muraine, a dancer in the pop and lock style who’s known as Mr. Fantastic. I always liked what he did, so I found his contact info online and asked him, “Who is Miss Fantastic?” He replied, “Pandora!”, so I got in touch with her. This song has a dubstep-esque beat; I figured it would work really well with a popper, and I was certain it had to be a woman. I watched her videos on YouTube and liked what she’d done, [so I] got in touch.

 

INTERVIEW CONTINUED BELOW

 

How was the decision made to go with dance as a primary vehicle for driving this video? What are the benefits of using dance as a way of expressing a narrative rather than more traditionally theatrical means?

When I listen to the track, I usually start dancing, or I envision dancers, so there was no question to me that there had to be a dancer featured in the video. In my first conversation with [Pandora Marie] on the phone, we discussed the lyrics. I don’t usually like to explain the meanings of songs too much, as I’d rather leave them open to the listener’s interpretation, but in this case, I knew that the explanation would then be filtered through her body and re-invented through movement, so there wasn’t any concern about overstating the ideas or becoming too literal. Dance can bring something sensual and visceral that goes beyond words, while still slyly acknowledging them. In this case also, her body functioned as a canvas for the strobing projections of cityscapes, jungle foliage, and other images.

 

How did the choreography of the piece come about? Was it the responsibility of one individual or multiple individuals?

I live in Brooklyn and Pandora lives in LA, so the choreography came about mostly through phone conversations and two videos she taped of herself dancing to the song in her studio. I would point out moves I particularly liked, and we’d discuss where in the song certain things had to happen. For instance, I knew we wanted high-speed tutting on the glitchy drum breaks, spins in the chorus, and a few moves that would reference some of the specific lines in the song. The idea was never to have the choreography set in stone, but to allow her to mostly freestyle, which she loves doing, while coming back to the anchor moves we had talked about.

 

Are there any anecdotes from the creative process that you think are particularly noteworthy or interesting? Any surprises or hilarities?

While editing, I found ways to visually mimic some of the things that were happening musically like the buzzing, chopped-up vocals, or glitchy moments (especially between 3:02 and 3:21). I cut up the footage into 1-frame chunks and alternated them with black, which made the image buzz, and cut up two different pieces of footage into 2 or 3-frame chunks and alternated those for the choppy vocals. At 3:09, she’s in an insect-like posture that she luckily did twice — once with projections, once without. In one take, her image was smaller than the other, but when I enlarged it, it was possible to superimpose them and make it look for a moment like she had three arms. That’s one of my favorite parts.

 

MAST – “UPUPUP” BEHIND THE SCENES PHOTOS

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