ALEX SOUTHAM TAKS KWABS – TEXT LUKE TIERNEY
If you were to relate directors to heroes Alex Southam would be a young cool James Bond, I guess Daniel Craig if we’re going to have to spell it out for you. Doesn’t take himself too seriously yet knows exactly when to be serious; Alex, the ultimate gentleman, brings a sense of serenity that translates onto screen, seen here with Kwabs giving his strongest perfomance to date. A performance from an artist who at first didn’t appear in his own videos, just to put it into context!
An experienced director Alex has turned his focus from being technically led, these traits now run through the background adding to the calm. Where once intriguing camera techniques gripped now we have design, colour and performance. With Kwabs continuing to impress and Mr. Southam turning heads we sat down for a quick chat about Kwabs as a performer, the projections and what a YouTuber said that Alex “loves”.
Word Is Cheap: The video is very minimal, with its bright colours and geometric shapes, particularly in comparison to some of your other work. Did you enjoy the new direction?
Alex Southam: Yeah, for sure – it was an interesting project to approach form the outset given the limited budget, tight turn around and quite prescriptive brief (yeah, I know standing boring stuff) – so it really concentrated my mind on keeping things simple and primary and then taking it somewhere else. I think there is definitely a parity with some of my earlier, more graphic / animated videos, so it was nice to return to that world. I bore everyone with my pseudo-knowledge of art history – but in case of ambiguity this was me doing BAUHAUS X SUPREMATISM.
WIC: To me, it has a bit of an 80’s feel, with some vogueing style dance moves – did you have any specific influences?
AS: Haha – totally, the track has all that associated musicality to it but largely it was just Kwabs and Sian bringing the flavour. I defy anyone to not get a bit wavey when the beat kicks in. Someone on YouTube commented that it felt a bit Rick Astley – I love that.
WIC: How did you decide which words to highlight and what fonts to use in your projections?
AS: I made various versions with all the lyrics as text which we shot and then made our selects in the edit – those words that remained were the ones which felt the most declarative and emotive.
WIC: The words mesh perfectly with the movements of Kwabs and the dancer were the projections made with these movements in mind or vice versa?
AL: I basically made the projections to work with the musicality of the track – hitting certain sweet spots – then had Kwabs watch the projections so he knew what was going on around him and inform his performance to create some sort of synchronicity between the two. I could then run in between takes and dial up or down the performance to suit. Frustratingly there were a bunch more projection shots which illustrated this, but they didn’t make the final cut.
WIC: This feels like KWABS most confident performance to date, what was he like to work with?
AS: This was the second time I’ve shot with him so I think the familiarity definitely helped – although to be honest, and without wishing to speak for him – I think you can definitely tell his confidence as a performer (and how he sells that) has definitely grown – so it was much easier to elicit a great performance from him. The guy’s just a straight up dude who is crazy talented.