Back in February I was given the fantastic opportunity of being in a music video for Senegalese musician Baaba Maal's track 'Gilli Men'. I'm only writing about it now as I was asked to hold off sharing anything until the video was finished and put out there, which happened a week ago.
I heard about the opportunity through my friend Andy, also a musician and sound technician who forwarded me an email from Chief productions looking for artists to be in a video. I responded to the email straight away and they got back to me asking to see some of my work, which I did and they liked it a lot and put me on the short list to be in it.
My initial contact was Daisy Brown, production assistant for the company. Very easy to talk to on the phone and told me they were all looking forward to shooting the video and seeing what kind of art I would produce live on the day. I also spoke to Nate Camponi, the director, about his ideas for the shoot and asked me about how I create my art. I explained that with most of my artwork, I just allow it to come out and don't really know what it will be until it arrives! He said that was perfect and he was looking forward to it also.
A few days later I was in Manchester for the shoot. Daisy picked me up from the station and drove us to Brunswick Mill, literally round the corner from where some of my friends have studios in Wellington Mill, so it was good to recognise the area.
We were up on the third floor I think it was, using one of those old fashioned lifts with the cage to get there! Interesting looking space, even if it was very dirty!
I chatted to Nate for a bit about work he'd done in the past. He had some very interesting experiences to talk about and it was great to hear about them. He informed me it would be after lunch before we were ready to roll and I didn't need to hang around if I didn't want to, so I went round the corner to meet up with my artist friend Mike at his studio. We have a good laugh when we get together and he always has some creative things to show me that he's been up to, either drawing or with his new business with the laser cutter. I chilled there for an hour or so, then spoke to Daisy on the phone who said she was going to pick up lunch for everyone so I went to meet her and help get the fish and chips in!
So the idea was, they'd play the music track through speakers behind me as I painted and just film and let me do my thing. Pretty simple! The track Gilli Men is brilliant. I'd been listening to it for a few days anyway to get used to it and now I was there in the space looking at the 8 x 8 foot board they'd prepared for me, I thought 'ok, I'm just going to let the music dictate how I paint now.'
The board was nice and smooth, but it was still a slightly bit tacky from the white paint, so they got one of the crew to get the hair dryer on it! Nate explained that mostly they were just going to let me do my thing, but at points he'd ask me to stop so they could change angle or lense. All good with me!
I was raring to go by now, but it was a good half hour after I had my mask on and spray can in hand before I actually started. they wanted to get everything just right. Henry Paisley, one of the crew, was taking photos on his camera as we went along. I have him to thank for sending me the images and I've used a few of them in this blog.
I can only hope the other artists and dancers had the same great experience on their days of filming. I'm sure they did though. Their finished pieces look amazing in the video. As I don't know them to speak to and I wasn't there to take any photos of them, this blog feels a little self indulgent but it IS my own personal blog I guess! hahah!
I used mostly spray paint for the piece I created, making big shapes of colour based on where the music took me in my head. However, I'm more proficient with paint pens so I wanted to use those on top of the shapes to add the detail, letting the camera man follow my big sweeping lines.
That was funny actually, I remember him saying behind me as he filmed a particularly long line, 'Oh you're making me work for this one!' haha!
I'd almost forgot at the end that I was getting paid as well! hahah!
Daisy drove me back to the station after and we said our goodbyes. An awesome day if somewhat exhausting, but very thankful for being asked to take part. Massive thanks to Nate, Daisy and the crew of Chief Productions for being super cool and so professional and of course to Baaba Maal for making such an amazing piece of music. The video looks awesome, but judge for yourselves. click the link below. Thank you for reading.