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For those in the know, Matilda Finn will already be a familiar name. The London-based director and photographer has created music videos for the likes of Bicep, Danny Brown, Obongjayar and, most recently, Bipolar Sunshine. Cementing her status as one of the new generation’s fast-ascending directors, in 2017 Finn won the UK Music Video Award for Best New Director.

And it’s easy to understand why, with Finn’s visual aesthetic containing a distinct style that’s recognisably hers. Tense and gripping narratives comprise her visual world, with suspense and equivocality driving her abstract plot lines forward. Birds are ripped out of hearts in Bipolar Sunshine’s Easy to Do; faces loom into distorted fisheye view at Danny Brown’s door, and any sense of reality is quickly derailed in Lost. Strangers are taken on a ride to an unknown destination in the cinematic video for Bicep’s Aura. Cameras rotate, coursing along roads in dark, moody cities, whilst lighting and editing combine to build frenetic worlds that are simultaneously disorientating and distant. Through it all, Finn’s visual trajectory showcases her ability to submerge viewers in hypnagogic worlds that appear to be spinning out of control.

We caught up with the young director to tap into her creative process, discussing visual narratives and the future of music videos.

Read Crack Magazine’s list of 10 music video directors switching up the game. Work by these directors will be screened at and& summit and festival’s A/V screening room, and Oscar Hudson will be in conversation with Crack Magazine at the event, discussing the art form and its future. Find out more about and& here.

When did you start making music videos? Has it always been something you connected with?

I started making music videos a while back now by accident, in a sense, in that I took an opportunity to make one very young and it all went from there. I started so young in an industry I didn’t fully understand, so it took a while for me to get my vision out there, beyond what people wanted or expected me to make. I do think I was meant to do music videos, it makes pretty much perfect sense with the audiovisual relationship I have, in that sense it’s something I have always connected with.

Has working in the field of fashion photography informed your work? If so, in what ways can its influence be seen in your videos?

I think there is a give and take for both my photography and film work; they both inform each other. For instance when starting out I just wanted to be a photographer, but my stance was ‘I just want it to look like a scene in a film where this happens’ and base it around being film stills. And then the other way, for sure. I gained my symbolic nature in my photography, where I’m trying to emote something in one image, which was often eluded in the clothing. I take that to my film work for sure; my last video is a pretty strong example of that, where the styling element is the strongest symbolic element.

But overall there is not a huge gap between the two mediums except one moves and one doesn’t. It took me a while to grasp how to make it moving, but I’m saying the same things despite the medium. Something vital I learnt doing fashion photography was the art of doing it all, or at least knowing how it was all done, which in this climate you really need to be good at. In fashion photography – editorials I’m talking about mostly – you don’t have producers really, you produce it. You buy the lunch for your team out of your own money, you supply it all to make it happen, so if you want to make something good or big – that’s up to you and nobody else. That really helped me in my video work, I think, knowing how things work is the only way you can truly get anything done.

How do you go about creating a narrative for a music video?

I listen to the track and if it’s something I want to write on, I will know straight away, it will transport me to a moment immediately. Then I just almost get addicted to it. Getting it onto paper is often torture, I can replay the scenario in my head 1,000 times but still not be able to pull it out into words. I feel like it’s translating a language or something, probably because the story is like a dream, things that I might be thinking of at the moment. They emerge perhaps subconsciously or both merged. I always equate it to when you have a dream and you’re trying to figure out what your subconscious is telling you.

How do you go about creating a narrative for a music video?

I listen to the track and if it’s something I want to write on, I will know straight away, it will transport me to a moment immediately. Then I just almost get addicted to it. Getting it onto paper is often torture, I can replay the scenario in my head 1,000 times but still not be able to pull it out into words. I feel like it’s translating a language or something, probably because the story is like a dream, things that I might be thinking of at the moment. They emerge perhaps subconsciously or both merged. I always equate it to when you have a dream and you’re trying to figure out what your subconscious is telling you.

Where do you tend to pull your inspiration from?

Hate to be boring, but music. Even when I’m doing an editorial or writing a long form piece or an advert treatment. There’s a track there that was a soundtrack for me, that sparked the idea. Since a young age I have consumed masses of imagery, so I think I have a bank in my head where I have a feast of visual information. My mum taught me through the masses of Vogue and fashion magazines she accumulated, and my dad really pushed all the greats in film on me very young; there was a palette of taste I was introduced to. But I would say I don’t purposefully pull from anything, I just let the idea accumulate, but of course that’s been influenced from many different things.

Can you tell me more about your video for Bipolar Sunshine’s Easy to Do? How did the narrative for the video come about?

Same process; there were a bunch of tracks sent but I only ‘saw something’ to this. The ending was a promo, like a prequel that I thought of for it. But it turned into this R&B ending instead, all for the best. I just wrote it how I saw it and then the artist wanted to be in it so I put him in it too.

When thinking of ideas, do you use technology as a jumping off point?

No, but I think the knowledge of some techniques are there in my head to pick from, like that information bank. Like motion control is something I tend to go back to, but I’ll see that as multiple versions of things or repetitive moments. Or phantom imagery – super fucking epic and slow. It’s because I see the image a certain way that needs that, not the other way. It doesn’t birth the idea. I’m really fucking untechnical actually, they are just tools for me.

I’ve read that you like to watch films on mute and listen to music instead. Is this a method that informs your creative practice and if so, can you elaborate on this?

This is something I did mostly in my formative years, I wasn’t allowed out much so I would watch a lot of TV and films, my dad would play music all the time – a proper John Peel type, right next to me in the kitchen. So I would listen to the music he played and put the TV on mute, it worked as a soundtrack to me. I would often be sitting in the living room crying my eyes out because the music would affect me so much. And then I’d just sit there not even looking at the TV, it became just background image noise – something would set me off, like I would see a character crying and have it amplified by some soul crushing sounds. This would spark a whole new world for me in my imagination and I would just sit there and go off into all these worlds.

Often I would come out of it with the room submerged in darkness and realise I spent hours just lost there. Then I’d go to bed and fall asleep to music or listen to the radio. So maybe even just the action of being isolated with music and imagery formulated this breeding ground for me. It’s more than a creative practice, as lame as it sounds, it’s like a legitimate lifestyle. I have had a lot of time alone with good music and my mind, and that’s where the imagery grows. If I worked in a bank I’d still have this.

How do you see music videos evolving in the future?

Maybe it doesn’t have to necessarily be a traditional music video anymore – it can be a content piece. I’m often trying to push this to young artists with zero money – which there are a lot. You could do an epic 30-second clip instead of a full music video, and that way people are going to actually go and stream that track so you get the money anyway. It’s common to be a multimedia artist like myself now, we just want to create; I don’t really care if it’s five seconds or two hours – is it good? And I think the internet consumerism attitude is: anything goes.