Behind the Scenes of the Mark Ronson and Keyone Starr Video with Director Shomi Patwary | Listen Up!
Mark Ronson and Shomi Patwary on the set
The best party nobody went to might’ve been 12 years ago in Norfolk, Virginia, when producers who would change the sound of hip-hop and R&B deejayed to basically nobody.
We’ll let our music video director friend Shomi Patwary tell you about that one.
Long story short, Patwary and British star Mark Ronson go way back, and we now have the video for “I Can’t Lose.” It’s more zesty funk from Ronson–whom we shall never fail to mention without hyperlinking to his and Aaliyah’s classic Hilfiger ad–and bigger-budget moves from Patwary, best known for A$AP Rocky’s “Multiply.”
Check out behind-the-scenes images below from “I Can’t Lose” and an edited transcript of our phone call with Patwary.
We talked about Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” Dick Tracy, Blade Runner, the cameo from Waris Ahluwalia–and what happens when the zeitgeist moves post- ‘90s retromania.
I met Mark 12 years ago at a party. We met through a mutual friend, Kenna, who was signed to Pharrell. We met at a party in Norfolk, Virginia. It’s funny because that party was Mark Ronson, Chad Hugo from the Neptunes and Diplo–then from Hollertronix. They were all deejaying. It’s funny because nobody really showed up to the party. We laugh about it now, how far we’ve come. It was a unique situation where one of our homies who booked the event didn’t realize he was a little too ahead of his time. I was in college, and I was like, Man, you guys are amazing.
I got an email a few months ago and was almost about to delete it. I thought it was SPAM that record labels send out. But it was Mark, and he said he loved the A$AP Rocky “Multiply” video and wanted me to do backdrops for his tour–to do concert footage for his tour–and he mentioned that I should write a treatment for his new video. We met the next day at his hotel in New York. You’ll catch him in New York three times the same week while he goes to Paris and London.
Definitely an homage to “Smooth Criminal.” The guitars reminded me of Michael Jackson. The singing reminded me of Chaka Khan. The instrumentation reminded me of Michael Jackson, “Smooth Criminal.” I just started watching those videos. The lyrics in the song, she’s talking about gambling. I thought to go not with a Las Vegas take on gambling, but with an underground Chinatown theme. Cinematography wise, this seems like an obvious choice but, Blade Runner. Chinatown aesthetic, lens flares, that kind of stuff. It was at the restaurant La Baron, which is a French name but it’s in Chinatown. We called them and they said yes right away, were totally cool. It’s a mix of styles in the video. There’s some Dick Tracy in there. You’ll see Waris [Ahluwalia] in there, from all those Wes Anderson movies. I didn’t know Mark was tight with him. I was like, I imagine Waris being in this video, I’m a big fan. Mark was like, I can contact him. I was like, Oh, snap. Let’s make it happen. Everything on this video just fell into place.
Even though Michael Jackson videos were done in the ‘80s, they were referencing the ‘30s. Just pick the best from every era. It’s the same for us. We’re combining the ‘90s, the ‘80s, the ‘50s, the ‘30s. But you have to do it tastefully so it’s a combination. We’re in the social media, Tumblr age. Our influences are all over the place. Last year around this time, I was getting pitches for videos asking for a throwback ‘90s vibe. Now, I think it’s all eras.