Benjamin Millepied Fills a Bright Dead Sea Landscape with the Experimental Artist’s Brooding Music.
“I first saw Billy Barry perform at Juilliard four years ago,” says the acclaimed French choreographer, filmmaker and photographer Benjamin Millepied. “I thought, ‘Who is this creature?’ Billy’s quality as a dancer is so otherworldly, I immediately knew I wanted to create a portrait of him. The sense of solitude depicted in the film reflects just how different he is as an artist.” The chance to direct today’s music video for British artist Forest Swords’ haunting track “The Weight of Gold” presented an intriguing opportunity for Millepied, who was seduced after being inspired by Israel’s Dead Sea area’s landscape, including the Judean desert and Nebi Musa site that is dedicated to Moses. “We arrived at a beautiful location and I just let the music and the desert move me instead of forcing it,” says Barry, the young flaxen-haired dancer who earned a spot at Tel Aviv’s prestigious Batsheva Ensemble straight out of school. “I listened to the music a lot before the shoot and on the day we just went with what happened naturally.” Below Forest Swords, AKA Matthew Barnes, explores the musical side of this creative collaboration.
I grew up listening to a lot of mainstream pop music, and I was fascinated with the production and structure of it. Then I gradually got into punk, hip-hop and electronic music. All that filters into the type of sounds, melodies and textures I’m attracted to now, though it’s difficult to be objective about that kind of thing when you’re making it.
The track “The Weight of Gold” came together fairly slowly. I pieced it together over a few weeks, adding and subtracting until it felt right and I mixed it outdoors like the rest of the record.
The locations Benjamin picked for this video really resonate with the track. I’ve always associated the songs from my album Engravingswith a British landscape—woodland and sandstone, because that’s the environment I live and produced the record in. Taking the music out of that context and placing it in Israel definitely shifts the track in a direction I did not expect.