When the music video for Drake’s “Hotline Bling” was released on October 19, its imagery and Drake’s dance moves inspired countless memes and parody videos.
And Director X, the man behind the video, says he hopes all of that virality will inspire men to do one thing: dance.
“I put as many men dancing and having fun in my music videos as I can,” X told Tech Insider, “to get men to start dancing and having fun in the real world.”
X is passionate about getting men back out on the dance floor.
“They have confused it,” he said of most modern guys. “They think being tough is not dancing. But just like most ideas that guys have about the world works, they’re completely wrong. A real man goes out there and dances. He’s not afraid of anybody. Every attribute you get associated with when you’re dancing and having fun are good ones — someone might find you sexy, socially brave, socially conscious.”
And guys who aren’t afraid to dance might even meet new friends!
“It’s all way better than standing by some bottles, hoping a girl talks about you because you have a bottle of vodka,” X reasoned.
X’s first mega-hit music video was Sean Paul’s “Gimme the Light” in 2002.
The dance-heavy clip was choreographed by frequent X collaborator Tanisha Scott. Since then, X and collaborator Taj Critchlow, who executive produced the “Hotline Bling” video, have often focused on highlighting their videos’ performers with elaborate sets and lighting.
“If it was just [Drake] dancing on a street corner, it would have gotten a lot of attention,” X said. “But the whole visual of it — when you saw those rooms, you were like, ‘What is this? Who is he?’ Especially for the person who saw it first in a meme.”
The pared-down background also made the memes incredibly mobile-friendly, but X says this was a happy accident. X and Critchlow, who run Toronto’s Creative Soul media company together, were more focused on bringing a totally original artistic vision to life, not necessarily on inspiring memes.
“We’ve been doing these big lights and set builds,” Critchlow told TI. “People forget hip hop videos used to be about this stuff [dancing]. We didn’t want to just do another typical indie rock video. We wanted to give [Drake] some new flavour, some new swag, a different point of view.”
Although X was modest about his intuition for virality when making this video, he said inspiring people to share a music video, like they did with “Hotline Bling,” is crucial now that music videos are no longer broadcast on channels like MTV anymore.
“Videos are still important,” X said, “but they exist in a different space. You gotta be a big artist and do something really big.”
This requires a ton of vision and someone who’s willing to push boundaries because now, a good song isn’t enough to get people interested in the music video.
During the MTV era, “if the song was hot and the video was good, it would be on,” he said. “But now, you need to think about it, because you have to do more than have it look good and have it be a good song to get people outside of your fan base involved.”
And, at least in the case of “Hotline Bling,” that involves some pretty incredible dance moves, highlighted perfectly by the lighting and sets.
“We’re starting a revolution,” X said. “You’re gonna go out one night and there’s gonna be guys dancing on the dance floor. They’re not just gonna be grinding.”
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