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The musical image of Stéphane Sednaoui

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Sednaoui\'s clips
Lover to both Kylie M and Björk G, French-born Stéphane Sednaoui’s chief claim to fame is directing music videos for a variety of musicians

The music video has come a long way since the days of MTV to be a very serious artform indeed. So much so that it stands apart from the music as an artform in itself rather than a mere vehicle for promoting the music. The growth of the Internet with sites such as YouTube have enabled the music video to break out of the TV market and take even more prominence. The music clip director likewise has come to stand apart from the music, and there’s now a whole lot of acclaimed directors: Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze and Chris Cunningham, for example.

Sednaoui started out as a photographer, working mainly in fashion. His first music video was for French rap group Suprême NTM’s “Le Monde de Demain” (1990). Proving himself in music videography, Sednaoui next directed the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give it Away” (1991) — a grainy b/w and silver clip of the band in a desert.

The clip inspired Björk to approach him for “Big Time Sensuality” in 1993. The rest is history, working with an array of musicians, and consistently working with Alanis Morissette, Björk, Tricky, Garbage, RHCP and Fiona Apple. (Sednaoui would again work with Björk on the clip “Possibly Maybe” ‐ a song about the end of their relationship.

Movement, motion and energy are central to Sednaoui’s clips — the nervous energy of Björk in “Big Time Sensuality”, the seductive prowess of Shirley Mason in “Queer”, the gentle flow of a global village in “Seven Seconds” interspersed with the confronting honesty of Neneh Cherry and Youssou N’Dour, the impish funk of the Chili Peppers in “Give it Away”.

While a lot of it is in body movement, he pushes out internal energies and emotions by injecting his images with movement – the pulsating neon in “Possibly Maybe”, double vision in “For Real”, the static in an angelic Björk, the sexual energy and laser-firing breasts in “Disco Science”, the nerve wiring of human mortality in “Can’t Wait” and the electro-glow aura of Michael Stipe in “Lotus”.

The Directors’ Label DVD
Sednaoui’s work is now part of a series of DVDs on the work of music video directors. The DVD brings together some 20 or so of his clips for your viewing pleasure. There are also interviews with Bono, Flea, Björk, Michael Stipe and Tricky. Oh and Jean-Paul Gaultier.

But, the real gems in this package are the special features. There is a VERY cool short film inspired by Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wildside”. Part music video, part short film, it follows the story in Reed’s song, and Sednaoui does great justice.

There are also two videos of his own (including his first ever) and his own video clip for Björk’s “Army of Me” (the official version was directed by Michel Gondry).

Following are some of his videos featured on the DVD:
* Big Time Sensuality (Björk)
* Possibly Maybe (Björk)
* Hell is Around the Corner (Tricky)
* Scar Tissue (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
* Disco Science (Mirwais)
* Ironic (Alanis One-Hand-in-Her-Pocket Morrisett)
* Queer (pre-emo emo Garbage)

Here are some that aren’t:
* “Today“, Smashing Pumpkins;
* “Fever“, Madonna;
* “Milk“, Garbage

Related link
Sednaoui’s official website ::


Written by Darren Smith

1 August 2008 at 8:29 pm

One Response

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  1. […] a DVD collection featuring the work of several music video directors. A few months back I looked at Stephane Sednaoui. Now I’ve had a chance to look at the Glazer […]

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