Enter the world of Will Dohrn’s dreamy, pastel-coloured videography
Bristol-based director Will Dohrn made his directorial debut last year with the dreamy video for Club Kuru’s Ribbons – which was hosted via Nowness and featured highly on Crack Magazine’s list of The Top 15 Videos of 2017. The creative has a portfolio that boasts work for commercial companies – such as Nike, American Apparel and Beats by Dre – and he’s worked with artists M.I.A., Nabihah Iqbal and Rae Sremmurd.
The well-received video for last year’s Ribbons draws upon the psychedelic crooners’ lethargic track to create a surreal narrative of distant figures, floating television screens and an imaginary wise man – played out through retro, 70s stylings and the cold concrete of Brutalist architecture. It showcases Dohrn’s capabilities in enhancing a track’s mood with his own highly imaginative story that, at its core, contains a spectrum of universal, heart-swelling emotions: isolation, longing and yearning. The effect? A sumptuous and deeply evocative near-four minute visual that’s capable of capturing audiences with its relatability, though it’s set in – like the figures in the video – an unreachable pastel-coloured world.
Below, we catch up with the Bristol creative to talk artists, architecture and fashion.
Read Crack Magazine’s list of 10 music video directors switching up the game. Work by these directors will be screened at the 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.
How did you get into making music videos?
First watching Tryone Lebon’s film for Mount Kimbie’s Carbonated. For some reason I connected with that video in a way I hadn’t before with a music video, so that really motivated me to pursue it further. I’m still yet to make a grime video but Channel U definitely had an impact on me wanting to purse grime in music video. Will hopefully happen one day!
You tend to mix several video formats together into one clip. What do you think this brings to your work?
Yeah, different formats can convey different emotions. For example, using a thermal camera can be anxiety-inducing due to its association with conflict and use within the military, In music video this is something I want to start doing less of, to be honest, and just let the idea, characters and spaces convey emotion.
Cities and architecture are recurring themes in your videos. Why do you choose to focus on environments?
I think environments can shape emotions in a film, a theme I want to explore more is isolation which I think is an emotion that can definitely be amplified by a particular structure or space. I think, possibly, one of the first times I was impacted by isolation in architecture was actually in an animated music video. When I was about 15 watching Gorillaz’s Feel Good Inc, there is a tall concrete building amidst the clouds, think this had an impact on me which is hard to describe to be honest, but it was roughly at this point I began to find similarities within the architecture and rural spaces around me.
Are there any particular places that have shaped your work or approach?
Yeah, would say living Bristol has shaped my approach definitely. Going to galleries a lot as a child with my mum has also, partially because of the art of course, but mainly because of the wide open exhibition spaces with people focusing and looking at one thing in wonder. I guess that’s also what inspired the TVs on plinths that came into play in Ribbons.
How did the idea come about for the Club Kuru’s Ribbons video and how do you think your ideas reflect the track?
The track for me conveys a sense of longing and wanting to be on the other side, so using screens seemed like a perfect way to separate multiple worlds in which an individual could look into but not experience in real life, making the character feel isolated and constantly in pursuit of unobtainable contentment.
Are there any differences or similarities in the ways you approach a music and fashion video?
Sadness, isolation, loneliness, awe, lust, fear, anxiety, melancholy and nostalgia.
Which do you prefer?
I love both! But I’ve only really ever done commercial fashion work, so would say I prefer music video as you tend to think about your ideas more loosely without having to think about brand values or whatever it is. I would say there is definitely similarities between the two, depending on the idea; if the idea is more conceptual. focusing on camera trickery, I tend not to focus on the styling and fashion as much at the treatment stage, but I still send some ideas that hold styling and the stylist as a fundamental part to the film – a lot of it depends on the track.
What other musicians would you like to make videos for?
To name a few: Helena Hauff, Actress, Gramrcy, ABRA, Mura Masa, Bonobo, Zomby, Young Thug, 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert, Burial, Khruangbin, Tirzah, Smerz, SOPHIE, Arca, Club Kuru, D Double E, JME, Slowthai, 67, Sir Spyro, Pres T, Novelist, Idles, Eagulls, Heavy Lungs, Iceage, The Bug, Nils Frahm, James Holden, Aphex Twin, Ishan Sound, Khan, Bicep, Nicolas Jaar, William Basinski, The Streets, Massive Attack, Rihanna, Lana Del Rey and The Pogues.