Video Chats: Young Replicant on "Team" by Lorde
Posted by Doug Klinger on December 16, 2013 in Interviews
According to Lordes Facebook page, the concept for Team came from a dream she had "a few months ago about teenagers in their own world. Set in an abandoned granary, director Young Replicant took influence from both Lordes lyrics and the concept that originated in her dream to create a visually complex world that is perfect for the characters that Lorde envisioned. We talked to Young Replicant about collaborating with Lorde on the project, finding cast members that fit their vision, and breaking Vevo.
Doug: On her Facebook page, Lorde says the idea for this video came from a dream that she had. Did she just describe the dream to you and you took if from there, or was she heavily involved with the video throughout the process?
Young Replicant: I wasn't aware that it was inspired by a dream at the time, but I knew Ella had a vision of this group of teenage misfits living in an ornate spa setting. I expanded on the idea a bit and brought in some new narrative elements. Once we were both on the same page, she stayed invested but not in an overbearing or negative way. I think it's amazing when artists take stock in their own videos. In this case, Ella was really easy to work with and brought a lot to the table. For me, it has to be about collaboration because it's in the video's best interest to align with the spirit of the album and the artist.
Doug: Most music video directors are hired for a job based on their ideas. Since this idea started with Lorde, how did you get involved with the project?
Young Replicant: This wasn't really any different - it started with a general direction and I pitched her my take on it. There was some back and forth before we arrived at the final idea and then things evolved again in the execution. Originally the shoot was planned for LA, but when production moved to NY it had to be adapted for a colder, east coast aesthetic. I'm trying more and more to allow setting and circumstance to influence my ideas rather than imposing a preconceived vision onto reality. I think you can waste a lot of time and energy trying to recreate whats in your head when there's something far richer right in front of you.
Doug: The chorus of the song talks about "cities you'll never see on screen" so I'm curious what you were looking for in the location for the video. Was the location also something that Lorde talked about from her dream?
Young Replicant: Lorde was adamant about featuring a mysterious spa location but I felt it would help to place it in a larger context. The lyric about "cities you'll never see" directly influenced the choice to shoot at the abandoned granary. Originally I wanted to find a location that was grandiose but also ruined - someone's failed utopian vision where these characters might be able to hide out and live according to their ideals. I was looking at a lot of Brutalist architecture for inspiration but there aren't many examples in the states. Finally, I found some pictures of this old grain elevator in Red Hook that seemed to embody that spirit by virtue of its sheer scale and functionality. I decided to place Lorde's spa in the heart of the grain elevator - like a built in recreation center for workers in a soviet country or something.
Doug: What were your goals in terms of how Lorde would look in the video? Did she have her own team that helped determine how she would be styled?
Young Replicant: I wanted Lorde's outfit to feel like vestigial remnants from an ancient society. Contemporary materials combined with archaic shapes. Our stylist Rebecca Grise presented a couple different options and we decided on a dominantly white outfit to make Ella stand out in the dark sauna. Before the shoot Ella was really excited about having cornrows and had her hairdresser do a test run. It turned out far more interesting than I was expecting and I think it's one of the best choices in the video.
Doug: Lorde talked about wanting the cast to feel like real people, with acne and everything. Is assembling a cast of regular people more difficult than it sounds? Especially on such a large scale project for such a high profile artist?
Young Replicant: Sometimes it's tough to find "real people" through traditional channels because you can end up with a lot of conventionally attractive faces that have a very average appeal. Luckily we had casting director Robb Fitzgerald and House Casting to help us out in searching for people with a unique, off-kilter vibe. I think casting is the most important part of the process, especially in this case since the goal was to say something about the teenage experience with very little exposition, with just the actor's physical presence.
Doug: When this video first came out, there were some YouTube issues and the video embed wasn't working right away. Many people, including Lorde herself, were reporting that the high demand for the video "broke Vevo." As far as you know, is that just folklore, or did you guys get confirmation that the video did indeed crash some of the YouTube servers?
Young Replicant: It's true - it crashed. Lorde fans are intense.
lorde, team, video chats, young replicant
Doug Klinger is the co-founder/content director of IMVDb and watches more music videos than anyone on earth. You can find him on twitter at @doug_klinger.
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