American DJ and production duo Soul Clap has just released a striking, dystopian music video for ‘Back 2 Love’. Produced by creative production company Cave 76 and directed by Jeronimo Villar-Uribe, it tells the story of love and reconnection in a post-apocalyptic world and stars ballet dancers Ana Elisa Mena and Roberto Rodriguez.
The music video takes place on a barren Earth, years into the future where divide and separation has ravaged the world and left any survivors completely isolated. A sudden flash of light in the sky pierces through the atmosphere and revives two such survivors, previously hidden among the rubble. Finding one another, the power of their reconnection entrances them, and they lose themselves in a surreal dance sequence that blends outer and inner reality. As the dance gradually ends, the survivors finally remove their gas masks and reveal their true faces to one another - symbolising the intimacy they needed to come ‘Back 2 Love’.
Having collaborated with Soul Clap multiple times over the years, Cave 76 reunited with the duo over Zoom in order to discuss the themes and storyline underpinning the promo. Inspired by WTF (World Transformation Force), Soul Clap’s latest LP that features ‘Back 2 Love’, the team chose to reflect the project’s overarching narrative, depicting a world living through a climate apocalypse and a force (WTF) that comes to save the day. On the very first call, the team came up with the concept of two people making their way towards each other across a dystopian landscape, and realised ballet dancers Ana Elisa Mena and Roberto Rodriguez would be the perfect choice for the protagonists.
Using a shared language of story and character motivation, director Jeronimo communicated his vision for the dance with Ana and Roberto over Zoom. Determined to make the story personal to them in order to produce the best choreography, Jeronimo encouraged the dancers to find elements of their own lives which might align with it. Drawing from reality, Ana and Roberto imagined that they were almost turned to stone, stiff and full of tension after a year without performing due to the pandemic. Pulled together by dance, however, their passion for the craft provided the force that could break that stone coating.
Crafting a dystopian landscape was a key challenge for the team at Cave 76, who worked to overcome scheduling constraints, rolling lockdowns, and last minute set-backs when securing the location. Eventually, the team landed on an unexpected setting: a furniture factory full of nooks and crannies. The perfect base for curating a dystopian aesthetic, the set allowed the team to pay homage to another apocalyptic music video: Sigur Rós’ ‘(Untitled)’, directed by Floria Sigismondi. Inspired by the iconic film, which sees children in gas masks playfully tossing black ash like snow, both Cave 76 and Floria’s videos showcase the persistence of humanity and joy in the face of large-scale horror.
Careful to avoid capturing a contemporary skyline, director of photography Francisco Iñigo worked to ensure that nothing crept into frame which could compromise the visual story. Also instrumental to the aesthetics was a smoke machine, which was used generously to create the desired effect. The finishing touch was placed during post, especially in colour correction. Colourist Gavin Rosenberg created a shift from the beginning of the video to the end, with unpleasant, frigid colouring gradually warming up in unison with Ana and Roberto’s characters - showcasing a much more inviting world by the end.
Jeronimo Villar-Uribe, director and producer at Cave 76, comments: “We’re proud of Back 2 Love for many reasons, but one of the things that excites both Gabe [Munitz-Alessio] and I the most is how it’s another addition to the list of cross-cultural projects that we’ve made. Gabe and I have been working together, in some capacity or another, for the past 15 years - and for 12 of those I’ve been in Mexico. That has moved us, in an organic and beautiful way, to see these projects as products of two cultures. Because we work together from creating the concept to final delivery, there is no space in the process where our cultures don’t mix, both on and off screen.”
He adds: “In ‘Back 2 Love’, for example, you have Gabe and I - an American and a Colombian/Mexican - and you also have this beautiful music by Soul Clap, Ana Elisa from Mexico, Roberto from Cuba, our amazing designer Sandra Weil from Peru/Mexico, our cinematographer Fran is from Mexico, Gavin Rosenberg from the US. Everyone’s bringing their culture into the shoot and process.”
Gabriel Munitz-Alessio, executive producer at Cave 76, comments: “All this creative cross-pollination inevitably makes its way onto the screen in one way or another and gives these projects a texture that is really attractive to us, both artistically and personally. The final products are always exciting, but what’s even more exciting is that the people we end up working with, who are all so talented, start becoming part of the Cave 76 family - a family that’s been growing not only in the US and Mexico, but around the world. So it’s about creating good work, absolutely, but additionally it’s about learning from and fusing with people with varying perspectives and backgrounds, allowing us to see through the lens differently and (please excuse my milking the metaphor) widening the field of view of what we’re able to see collectively.”