Saam, a 27-year-old music video director from London, is a member of the up-and-coming video director collective Team Stush and the hottest presence in the industry at the moment. He joined the major video production company Partizan in 2004, after he displayed his talent with a video mash-up of Bush and Blair apparently singing Electric Six’s “Gay Bar,” and stirred up the internet with his video “Viral Insanity,” showing Jamiroquai dancing in a busy men’s room. Saam has since directed many music videos for New Rave bands. He was also just announced as this year’s winner of the “Best Director” award at the CAD Music Video Awards that took place in the U.K. last week! (See a moving moment from the award ceremony.) In an effort to understand – even if only slightly – what’s going on inside his head, PingMag talked to Saam about his most famous music videos, for Klaxons.
Written by Chiemi
Translated by Natsumi Yamane
Incredibly, this interview took place on iChat, at Saam’s request.
Saam, I understand you’ve already directed many music videos for Klaxons.
I did the first “Gravity’s Rainbow” about a year ago and Ollie Evans from the same Team Stush directed the next one, “Atlantis to Interzone.” Then I directed “Magick” in June, “Golden Skans” in September and another version of “Gravity’s Rainbow” in January this year, so I’ve done 5 including “It’s Not Over Yet,” which I finished adding the last effects to about 20 minutes ago.
So, you are almost like the band’s exclusive director. How did you start your collaboration with them in the first place?
I am a close friend of Jamie from Klaxons, and we used to have a band together.
Your works are all really visually striking, but the music video for “Magick,” the one with fluorescent green fluid spurting out of a member’s eyes, has a particularly strong visual impact and storyline. How did everyone react when you first explained the concept of the work?
I told everyone – not just the members, but their manager and my manager – all at the same time, they opened their eyes widely and nobody spoke for a long time… But I have always been lucky because they have always trusted me completely and given me complete control over everything. Styling, design, story, everything. They sometimes ask some questions, but often I think they like to not know. They like the surprise!
Where do your ideas come from though? Are you inspired by horror films?
I don’t know…. That’s what scares me. I watched horror movies when I was too young, so I do feel like they are a big part of my life.
From the music video for “Magick.” At the opening, one of Klaxons members draws something on a wall. © Partizan
And after one moment… © Partizan
The one who has been writing on the wall is bound and blindfolded! © Partizan
… then the fluorescent green fluid spurts out of his eyes! © Partizan
The fluid splatters all over the abductors.. © Partizan
and in the meantime, the victim stops moving… © Partizan
Then the other two also put on blindfolds… © Partizan
Eeeeeeek!!! And there doesn’t seem to be any apparent reason behind this development…. © Partizan
You’ve directed two different videos for the same song, “Gravity’s Rainbow.” Was it your idea to make the second version?
Yes. When they told me they were re-recording their song with a new producer, I thought what an amazing idea to do exactly the same with my video. I wanted to make the first ever re-make of my own video because I don’t think anyone has ever re-made their own video.
Are there any continuity between the two videos?
If you play the new video straight after the old one without any gap, you will understand the story. It is two laps of infinity.
Which one do you actually prefer?
I don’t know. But many people prefer the first one because that was when we invented the ‘look’ for new rave.
Then would you say that that video was the first visualised image of the New Rave movement?
I don’t think so… but lots of people think it is because when it came on TV, it didn’t look like anything else. New Rave had already begun, that’s what Klaxons invented. But in terms of design aesthetics this was the publics introduction.
So Klaxons and you were the ones who “established” the visuals for New Rave.
Definitely. But then they abandoned it straight away.. It was created as a joke…..
The third Klaxons video by Saam “Golden Skans.” You won’t see any trace of New Rave in this amazingly dramatic video. © Partizan
Half naked Klaxons members draped in colorful ribbons jump in the air and break a strange object filled with something like milk… © Partizan
What influences you to make music videos?
I am fascinated by him. My ambition is to make a movie biopic of Tom Cruise’s life starring Tom Cruise as himself. We will use make up to make him look younger and older, so he can play his teenage years and the future but we will have to make up a story for his future…
We have an odd TV show like that for housewives in Japan. Actors and actresses who are around thirty play roles of both teenagers and old people, and show the redramatizations of things like their high school days and trouble with their mother-in-law…
Cool!! I love that stuff!!!
I think I finally started to understand you! So, what is “making music videos” for you?
It’s always different, but I guess in its purest form it’s the reverse of what a composer like Giorgio Moroder would do when he creates a soundtrack to a film. It sounds cheesy, but making a music video is like creating a visual score to a piece of music.
Thank you very much, Saam. And again congratulations for the best director award at CAD 2007! We are really looking forward to seeing more of your crazy and entertaining music videos!