Viewfinder: “Eye to Eye” & “Watch Me Dance” Prove Outstanding Videos Arise from Collaboration

Jordan Rakei x Tom Misch Viewfinder
Atwood Magazine’s Viewfinder column revolves around music videos, and how a piece of music is synergistically enhanced by well-produced visuals.

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The rise of video sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo over the past decade has democratized the distribution of videos and short films, allowing directors and content creators to reach a vast audience through the internet. Naturally, YouTube and Vevo have taken over the reins from outlets like MTV, allowing artists more creative freedom to complement their music in a visual format, uploading everything from music videos to behind-the-scenes footage, vlogs, and live performances.

Not ones to underestimate the reach of YouTube, artists like Jordan Rakei and Tom Misch have released a myriad of videos on their respective channels over the last few years, especially in the lead up to their album releases. Rakei’s sophomore album Wallflower was released in September 2017, while Misch’s album Geography was released this April.

Both these London-based artists have worked extensively with director Tom Ewbank to produce a variety of music videos and short documentaries over the past few years, raising the bar each time. Aside from the usual promotional fare of music videos, both Rakei and Misch have collaborated with Ewbank on documentaries cataloging their recording process, allowing fans to peek inside their recording studio and creative process.

Watch: “Wallflower – The Making Of”

Rakei’s latest single to receive the video treatment is “Eye to Eye,” the opening track off the highly underrated Wallflower. The video opens with a wide shot of a deserted beach, before closing in on a bleeding Rakei dragging a dead body out of the sea. Gradually, the synths swell and the music unfolds, and we follow Rakei’s character in the aftermath of the event as night falls and his behavior becomes increasingly more erratic. The music video plays out like an episode on a BBC crime drama; Rakei’s acting is so thoroughly convincing. It hooks you in until the last second of the twist ending, making it impossible to avert your eyes.

Watch: “Eye To Eye” – Jordan Rakei

The “Eye To Eye” video mirrors the dynamics of the track to a T. While the song starts off calm with a gently strummed guitar, it flips into what feels like a different track after the chorus, as the synths and percussion kick in. Similarly, the opening shots of the video are slightly ambiguous, leaving the viewer unsure as to the direction the video is heading in, but by the time the chorus arrives, there is no question that Rakei’s character has committed a heinous act. The video lends a sinister edge to the song, bringing new meaning to the lyrics of the chorus.

The time it took to realise
What you say bears sweet on my soul
Compliments with no surprises
Making routes straight to their home
We don’t see eye to eye, we don’t see eye to eye
We don’t see eye to eye, we don’t see eye to eye
Rusty nail showing bruises
Not quite holding firmly now
Complications, falling useless
Alone until I work it out
We don’t see eye to eye, we don’t see eye to eye
We don’t see eye to eye, we don’t see eye to eye

According to director Tom Ewbank, “The track is all about Jordan not seeing ‘eye to eye’ with aspects of his personality, personality traits that have held him back (social anxiety being the main one). Essentially the message in the video is that you can try and bury aspects of your personality, but no matter how hard you try to suppress these feelings you’ll never fully get rid of them.”

Watch Me Dance - Tom Misch

Watch Me Dance – Tom Misch

Much like “Eye To Eye,” Ewbank’s video for Tom Misch’s “Watch Me Dance” also features a desolate stretch of beach, opening with a gorgeous shot of coastline before cutting to the protagonist. However, that’s where the similarities between the two videos end. Tonally, the video for “Watch Me Dance” is a complete 180 from the “Eye To Eye” video, largely featuring overhead shots of the seaside landscape, and artist Ed Stanbury creating a piece of sand art on the beach.

The “Watch Me Dance” video perfectly encapsulates the energy of the track, equal parts wistful and celebratory. With lyrics revolving around memories and daydreams, the symbolic use of sand art drives home the fleeting nature of time, and the transience of the present moment. Particularly striking is the editing throughout the video, which was cut to the beat of the track, alternating between the sweeping vistas and close-ups of Stanbury at work.

Watch: “Watch Me Dance” – Tom Misch

Although both videos take place on a beach, it’s obvious that the narratives of the two videos are wildly divergent, reflecting the subject matter and lyrics of the respective songs. Everything down to the smallest detail feels pored over – even little elements like the color grading cater to the individual track, with “Eye To Eye” saturated in blues and cool tones, and “Watch Me Dance” full of warm tones and browns. On the whole, both videos are further proof that exquisite videos arise from fruitful collaboration between artists and directors, lifting the music to greater heights.

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