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Gabriella Kingsley on Directing Videos for Ed Sheeran, Fireboy DML, ArrDee and Aitch


Irresistible Studios’ director on the Game of Thrones and Peaky Blinders inspiration for ‘War’ and the afrobeats warehouse party in ‘Peru’, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Gabriella Kingsley on Directing Videos for Ed Sheeran, Fireboy DML, ArrDee and Aitch

Over the years, music videos have shifted their narrative from performance-based pieces to truly artistic, creative expressions of the musical artists in question. Irresistible Studios’ Gabriella Kingsley takes pride in doing just that, recently creating videos for ArrDee, Aitch, Fireboy DML and Ed Sheeran – whose creative visions she brought to life.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the world of UK Grime, ArrDee and Aitch are artists that have been pitted against each other for being all too similar with their look and out-of-London locations. In their hotly anticipated music video for ‘War’, the two artists play on their ‘rivalry’, only to show their underlying respect and admiration for each other. As Gabriella explains, “they’re assumed to be pitted against each other - yet the video portrays a powerful collaboration.”

Comparatively, Fireboy DML and Ed Sheeran bring us an afrobeats track that’s embedded in the ‘feel good’ genre, creating an ambience of relaxation, fun and ultimately giving the track a sense of Ed’s UK influence and Fireboy’s Nigerian heritage. As a ‘London warehouse party’ feel takes over, the New York shoot and Peru music carried on until two in the morning, when they called wrap.

Gabriella speaks to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about how each video was crafted, behind the scenes moments that matched the energy of the videos and ArrDee’s head-spinning ideas.

LBB> ArrDee and Aitch’s ‘War’ is a hotly anticipated collaboration on the UK Grime scene. What was the premise for the music video?

Gabriella> The brief I received was very much in line with how I would have envisioned this music video. I wanted it to slowly build up the conflict around the track throughout, having armies surrounding both artists, but with a modern-day aesthetic that stayed true to them and the culture they represent. The premise of the video also played on the conversations around how both artists look alike and how they’re assumed to be pitted against each other - yet the video portrays a powerful collaboration.

LBB> Where was the video shot and were there any challenges at the location that you had to overcome?

Gabriella> The video was shot at a secluded beach in Peacehaven, which is ArrDee’s hometown. Working at a location like this is obviously difficult because of passing traffic and weather. However, we had an amazing crew so there was very little that could go wrong.

Although it was cold, the weather was predicted to be very overcast and gloomy which was exactly what we needed. Weirdly enough, whilst we were filming the weather did exactly what we wanted it to do throughout the day and it fit perfectly with the aesthetic we were trying to create. 

LBB> The general feeling of the video is very crisp and clean, what did you keep in mind to achieve this during the filming process?

Gabriella> Styling and positioning were key considerations. We opted to keep the background and extras in natural tones to maintain focus on ArrDee and Aitch, keeping their styles bright and vibrant in comparison to the deep tones around them. 

LBB> The video has an overall blue grade that really contributes to the cohesive feel of the piece, yet retains brightness in the pops of colour we see. Can you talk us through how you achieved this?

Gabriella> Our aim was to showcase the music video as a battlefield and to do this we took inspiration from two of the biggest iconic references, Game of Thrones and Peaky Blinders. The weather and location played a major role in recreating this coldness, and my DOP Jomar O’meally worked wonders with me on set and in the grade. Then Johnny Tully, senior colourist at Cheat brought it to life. He’s a great collaborator, understood the references I had in mind and did an amazing job balancing the coldness yet still retaining the brightness of the artists.

LBB> How long did the process of shooting and editing take? And what was the overall time scale of creating the music video?

Gabriella> After receiving the pitch call, we had a treatment ready in 24 hours and got sign-off after two days. From there it was all hands on deck, we were out location hunting on day four and began shooting shortly after. The entire process from start to finish took us less than two weeks, so it was an intense turnaround. We have an amazing production team at Irresistible and an awesome producer Ersan Beskardes, so at each stage of production, I am fully supported and given the space to focus on the creative. 

LBB> VFX is seamlessly integrated into the video, such as the scene with multiple versions of the two artists. Can you talk us through how you achieved this?

Gabriella> That scene was actually ArrDee’s idea! Once again, it was such a clever way to poke at how both artists always get compared and mistaken for each other and this was the perfect way of making heads spin! Literally…

The VFX was absolutely flawless thanks to Peter Welton! Our in-house VFX compositor at Irresistible Studios, who brought our ideas to life, especially with the scene of the slowed down army running behind ArrDee, we played with speed and motion to retain focus on the artists (yes it’s the same sofa from the Oliver Twist music video).

LBB> ArrDee and Aitch have a lot of energy throughout the video, what was it like on set? Can you share any behind the scenes moments with us?

Gabriella> This was definitely more of a friendship than a partnership, they had genuine chemistry and were ecstatic to be on set together. ArrDee and Aitch are very dedicated to their craft so it was amazing how they were radiating the passion they have for their music, both on and off camera. It was lovely to see two young artists, who are expected to be rivals, have sincere care and respect for each other's work.

When you hear a track called ‘War’, you think of these artists going against each other - yet there aren’t actually any battles within the music video…it illustrates a powerful dynamic duo. It definitely wouldn’t surprise me if they had more work in the mix!

LBB> You also directed Fireboy DML and Ed Sheeran’s ‘Peru’. What was the overall concept for this music video?

Gabriella> Peru is a summertime track, but it was December and we were in the middle of winter… yet we were dedicated to bringing the warmth from this song to the screen! 

Peru is an afrobeats song so the concept of the music video was to make people feel the vibe of the music through its visuals. The genre is worldly known as ‘feel good’ music so we wanted to showcase that in the video itself, we wanted people to watch it and think ‘wow I wish I was there’.

LBB> What was the creative inspiration behind the shoot and how does this tie into the afrobeats genre of music?

Gabriella> The creative inspiration was definitely derived from the afrobeats genre, when you hear afrobeats type of music you can’t help but get up and dance, so expressing that feeling through the music video was essential to me. The set-up, lighting, wardrobe everything was inspired by a carnival vibe. It’s feel good music, it’s happy music, it’s literally just music you vibe with & the video had to reflect that.

LBB> Talk us through the shooting location and timescale. Where did you film and how long did it take to get all the footage you needed?

Gabriella> As Fireboy and Ed had completely different schedules, it was really challenging to get them both somewhere warm. They were both expecting to be in New York at the same time so we were like okay, let’s go make this happen! We decided to have the set-up in a run down warehouse because it matched the London warehouse party aesthetic that we were aiming for. Peru was definitely along the lines of War, everything was very hands on with a quick turnaround time and the whole process took under two weeks as well. 

LBB> What was it like on the set of this music video? Can you tell us about any behind the scenes moments?

Gabriella> Everything you see on the screens is exactly how it was like behind the scenes, both in NY and the pick up shoot in London. We were shooting until two in the morning, but everyone was radiating good vibes throughout the shoot and that’s why the music video itself looked so natural and full of good energy. Ed and Fireboy were having a great time on set with each other, learning some new dance moves and enjoying the track whilst we filmed - they were both in tune with one another and really built a connection.

LBB> Anything else you’d like to add?

Gabriella> I am super excited because I ended my year and started my year on such a high with these videos. Both videos trended #1 on YouTube and have hit UK Top 10 official charts so I really am just looking forward to where my journey is taking me and what the future holds.

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Genres: People

Irresistible Studios, Wed, 23 Feb 2022 15:30:00 GMT