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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

BaBUSHka :: Kate Bush, “Babooshka”

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Kate Bush is unrivaled for theatrical melodrama in music videos. Her eurythmy moves, fierce hair and flouncy costumes eclipsed only by her stunning facial expressions. The closest contenders are Nina Hagen and Björk.

Kate Bush tears herself asunder in \"Babooshka\"

Trained by choreographer and mime artist Lindsay Kemp (who also trained Bowie), Kate Bush takes what most of us wouldn’t dare do anywhere else but our cloistered bedrooms and turns it into gold.

The clip to Babooska opens with Kate pole dancing (or dry humping) with a double base, dressed in a black lycra bodysuit with gold belt and tulle veil, with a hairdo that could’ve inspired Cate Blanchett’s Indiana Jones character. All very surreal.

The real fun begins with the chorus. Kate, looking like some kind of Tartar incarnation of an Amazonian, wields a sword as she dances around like a sex goddess (very Xena meets Jeanne D’Arc, with a dash of Cher).

Watch the Babooshka clip

The song is about a woman who sends letters to her husband under the guise of a seductress, and signed “All yours, Babooshka“. She’s testing her husband’s love after some years. The seductress is everything she was “before the tears”, “before the years flew by”. The husband meets with the seductress (his wife obviously very well disguised) and she reminds him of his wife. He declares: “All yours, Babooshka”.

In the clip, the wife is there dressed in black with a veil, dancing with a double bass. The chorus (“All yours, Babooshka”) is when warrior woman seductress comes out brandishing sword and chainmail breast plate.

Kate’s expressive lusciousness is centre-stage in her other videos.

In “Wuthering Heights”, Kate is looking very National Velvet with red flouncy dress, thick black belt, red lipstick and emerald eye shadow as she winds out her interpretative dance around a paddock.

Dance is a key feature of Bush’s work. “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” has a spectacularly beautiful classical dance routine with Kate and professional dancer Michael Hervieu. Everything else in the clip (colour, costumes etc) is extremely pared back so that the dance between this man and woman remains the focus.

Kate is a patron saint of self-expression. Bless her.

Written by Darren Smith

17 July 2008 at 5:11 am