Video Chats: Ian Pons Jewell on "Rollerblades" by Kwes
Posted by Doug Klinger on March 5, 2014 in Interviews
If you have a passion for figure skating but no ice to try it out on, we've got good news. Artistic roller skating is a real sport that takes all of the glam and intensity of ice figure skating and transfers it to roller skates. If you're thinking that artistic roller skating must have somehow worked its way into a music video by now, you are correct. Roller skating champion Juan Tocino recently starred in ““Rollerblades” by Kwes, directed by Ian Pons Jewell, an amazing video that combines the oddities of artistic roller skating with some surreal and dark imagery. We talked to Ian about the video, Juan, roller skating, and the wig.
IMVDb: It's pretty clear that many of the elements in this video, particularly the skating, are inspired by the lyrics. Where the other elements of the video, like the water draining out of Kwes' neck, also inspired by the song?
Ian: The general premise was certainly from the title and lyrics. It developed a lot though through pre production, something I hadn't had with other videos I've made to this extent. The water was always planned for the end, for the skater to end up drowning in the flooded rink, inspired by the water sounds in the track itself at the end. But Kwes' disappearance was simply him fading out and leaving the space, but I wasn't happy with this sequence. After listening to the track more during pre production, him leaking out of existence came about, ending up with the gold plug visual. The plug pull visual came from the lyrics and sound of that particular moment.
IMVDb: Juan Tocino is fantastic in this video, where did you find him?
Ian: With a LOT of luck. We messaged loads of previous Artistic Skating Champions to see if any would be interested, we got few replies but one passed us Juan's contact. He was an absolute godsend, he made the video what it is. His whole demeanour and experience as an actor all fed into the video.
IMVDb: What were your goals for Juan's wardrobe? Was it inspired by anything? Is the wig he's wearing in the video his own?
Ian: The costume was by Ameena Kara Callender who I adore working with, she also did the costume on the Naughty Boy video and just recently on my first commercial. She has a very strong sense of narrative about the way she approaches costume which means we always bounce around ideas a lot beforehand. The costume was left quite open, with Ameena coming up with this design and the idea of word / name being put on the back of it. I wanted to put "Tocino" to honour him as an artist in his own right but also as he told me he was going to dedicate his performance to brother.
The wig was something that happened when talking with Anna Thompson, the wonderful make up artist we work with. It added a lot more to the narrative. It allowed us a moment to see him "naked." Before he takes off the wig he plays, prances, acts up. He is in performance mode. This causes the tragic accident, with him inadvertently unplugging Kwes and killing him. The wig than acted as a way of him paying his respects, begging for forgiveness, showing himself naked to us. On the moment he sings the final line, it then meant he could put the wig back on, go back to his old self to perform his final death dance before becoming one with the now liquid Kwes who comes back as a tidal wave. Finally at the end, the wig is a device to show us that he has gone from this world as it bobs past... So the wig was pretty pivotal in heightening the story. Of course people will also watch it and think, hmm weird video what's it about. But that's the thinking behind it haha.
IMVDb: I'm really impressed by Kwes keeping a straight face the whole time Juan skates around him. Was keeping a straight face difficult for him, or was he able to keep Juan out of his head while performing?
Ian: He was great! He sniggered on only one occasion I think! So yeah, no problems there at all really!
IMVDb: I love the tone and vibe of this whole video. It's got some silly moments, but everything is taken really seriously by the characters in the video. Can we expect some more similarly toned videos from you in the future?
Ian: Ha it's great you picked up on that, it has a lot of silly aspects to it, but, taken very seriously as you say. My recently completed short film is similar in a way to this. It's quite an absurd and obscene idea which is treated very seriously indeed. The tone and vibe is something I'm hoping to push more, it just depends on the music. It has to be music that can have this kind of visual to it, which doesn't come around too often. I actually pitched some time ago to a track which had a video very much in the same vein as this one, but unfortunately it all fell through. I have two ideas on the go at the moment which are going down quite a dark sci-fi route too, there's a mix of style in my writing at the moment which I think has a large part to do with my travels to Bolivia. I'm now back in London and the city is seeping back into my mind, so we shall see what tracks come up next. Am excited to be back in London, at least till the winter starts, then I'll go back Bolivia!
ian pons jewell, kwes., rollerblades, video chats
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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