Iconoclast director Emily Kai Bock treats viewers to private moments with Lorde with the music video for her latest single “Yellow Flicker Beat” written for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part One soundtrack. The clip launched on Vevo at 6AM EST, exactly timed to coincide with the singer’s 18th birthday in her native New Zealand.
From the striking image of an 80s-styled Lorde bathed in the cherry hues of a neon motel sign (with her trademark wild curls slicked neatly into a pompadour) to the dark party scene evoking a modern Gatsby - Emily Kai Bock creates a world of arresting vignettes. From scene to scene, Lorde’s dancing moves from jolts of frantic motion to moments of tense stillness, yet our eyes stay magnetized by her composed visage.
Emily Kai Bock explains how the collaboration came about, “Ella [Lorde] emailed me during the summer while she was on tour with Magical Cloudz, who I made a video for a couple years ago. I was amazed that she would reach out to me directly. Usually with such a big-name artist, there is a team of people you have to go through, but she kept a close connection to me from start to finish - from feedback on the treatment to editing notes, we were in constant touch.”
As for the inspiration behind the video, Emily explains, “Ella is a true collaborator. She had sent me a reference video of Mae West being interviewed by Dick Cavett. In the clip, Dick Cavett walks across a massive airplane hanger to this tiny lit set, where Mae West is reclining in this chair - it's a really surreal interview setting.”
“I wrote her a treatment with a bunch of these kind of set ideas, of things that could live within a dark void of a large vacant space, under a singular light - a motel room, a confessional, a chandelier, a streetlamp, and so on - and she loved it. I was really excited about the idea of using black as a way to transition between the worlds, losing the context of what is exterior and what is interior.”
Emily’s unique perspective as a director and editor, as well as an occasional cinematographer, played into how she envisioned stitching the worlds of physical light and darkness together. Within each environment, the camera could move towards and away from the concentrated light source – revealing more and becoming brighter, losing information as it fades, or going out completely. Emily shot on 35mm, attributing to the cinematic quality achieved in the footage.
Due to Lorde’s busy schedule, the exteriors were shot in north New Jersey, and the interiors in the Park Avenue Armory during Fashion Week. The crew managed to squeeze just one day in between the Marc Jacobs and Tommy Hilfiger shows – with only 24 hours to build, shoot, and take down the sets.
“Yellow Flicker Beat” was shot while Lorde was on tour, with her playing shows in Canada between shoot dates. Emily says, “We would wrap set and she would get on her tour bus to drive overnight to a new city and play a show. She didn't seem tired though. There was one scene where she had to fall off a four-foot platform onto these mats repeatedly, and she was really excited about it. I think even complained that the platform wasn't higher.”
Captivating us with a study in contrast, Emily Kai Bock delivers a visual for “Yellow Flicker Beat” that is as confidently modern and artistically unique as Lorde herself.