HISKIND are overjoyed to premiere the behind the scenes look at Kryptonite from electro-pop artist/dancefloor queen George Maple. Filmed entirely in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, the video features over 50 street-casted locals celebrating love, diversity and LGBTQ+ expression whilst crammed into hedonistic rave that we would have killed to have been at.
In line with the behind the scenes clip, George Maple, Director Lisa Paclet and Casting Director Alona Kuleshova explain how the video came to be, the significance of its Kiev location and the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusion.
George Maple’s Kryptonite offers an open invitation to relive the glitter-fuelled, sensual and sublime raze that you’ll be forever-gutted that you weren’t in attendance of. Fuelled by the track’s story of “falling in love with life beyond what I could control,” Kryptonite’s video expresses freedom, celebration and love without boundaries, all whilst Maple swings from the roof on a giant swing like a Goddess of the club.
Even from the offset, it’s clear that the video for Kryptonite could only really have taken one direction. “I wanted the video to express everything the song is about. Sexuality, movement, unity, letting go of boundaries and being free!” explains Maple, the cunning alias of Aussie-born, London-based Jesse Higgs. “I was re-discovering/defining my sexuality after a very heavy break up and I think a lot of that was subconsciously plotted into the overall feeling of the clip.”
Playing out like a night at Studio 54 if its location had changed to a warehouse rave, Kryptonite throws the viewer into the heart of Kiev’s vibrant LGBTQ+ nightlife for a celebration of diversity, freedom and a whole lot of making out.
“I kind of wanted to capture the feeling of being at a rave when you’re arm in arm with your nearest and dearest, everyone’s makeup is fading, people are drunkenly making out, voguing, just enjoying life, letting go. People let go of their pre-conditions and embrace one another beneath the madness. There’s a sense of unity that defies any kind of mental or sociological restriction. For me, the video was a both literal representation of that and a metaphor to deeper and darker clockwork.”
As it happened, this seemed a topic that director Lisa Paclet would thrive with. “Lisa read the initial brief and guide and took it to another level,” Maple elaborates. “We connected on a creative level across continents. She took it to the next step up and embedded her own experiences into the tapestry. We both wanted to communicate free love.”
The integrity of free love within the video became pivotal for Paclet, the French/Italian filmmaker with work for Dior, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent (to name but a few) within her credentials. As she explains, “I framed the situation in these terms: ‘I would like to be able to represent the maximum permutations between women, men, trans and non-gendered people. Couples or trouples should form naturally and you should really enjoy each other’s saliva!”
“So go ahead, mingle, taste each other and when we’re ready to shoot the make out scene, pair up with whom you feel naturally attracted to. And I have a feeling it worked. I would love to know if some real couples have formed after the shoot…”
Taking the video to Kiev formed the largest step in its creation with Maple honing in on a new-found adoration for drag culture as the largest source of inspiration. “I had never really explored the drag scene and became completely obsessed,” she explains. “I watched a lot of old documentaries on diva’s from the 70s, started just absorbing the visual landscape these people I’d looked up to lived in. I specifically had Madonna’s Human Nature, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation and Donna Summer’s I Feel Love with some raw footage from one of the LadyFag nights in New York rolling around in my head when it was all coming together.”
With the Ukraine so closely linked to it’s sistering, recently headline-making country Russia, you’d be forgiven for underestimating the LGBTQ+ presence within Kiev as did Paclet with the initial brief. “At first I was afraid of not being able to find enough openly LGBTQ youth that would agree to be shot for the project,” describes Paclet. “I based my ignorant assumption on the influence that Russia has over the Ukraine, thinking that Putin’s stand on LGBTQ+ issues might have put a damper on the Ukrainian’s youth culture, especially concerning the issue of sexual preferences. I couldn’t have been more wrong!”
The next step in Kryptonite’s creative involved enlisting Alona Kuleshova, the Kiev-based casting director from Ukrainian production house FAMILY, whose vision for the video ran parallel with that of Maple and Paclet. “We’ve decided to find true characters in real life and find people in real situations such as clubs, bars and other interesting places in Kiev,” reveals Kuleshova. “I read the script and understood that this kind of music video shoot is a once in a lifetime experience.”
Kiev is the hub of LGBTQ+ socialising and nightlife within Ukraine, often heralded for the open-mindedness of the city in comparison to rural areas of the country. The result of filming an LGBTQ+ centred video within the city allowed for the casting to run completely wild and boundary-free.
“I would go up to people with Alona, laying down my case for why each person should be in the video. I was always met with curiosity and grace,” explains Paclot. “After a couple of days the word had spread throughout the underground scene, and soon enough we were receiving spontaneous candidacies complete with full frontal photos!”
For Maple, the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community within Kryptonite holds itself to her own personal life and artistry, ruling out any other path that the video could have taken. “Some of my best friends are gay or, like myself, don’t have a sexual preference. I hope that by creating moments in time where there is simply a sense of unity, we are able to reduce any sense of segregation.”
“I hope to always be surrounded by people who genuinely care for one another and feel a sense of community beyond their own personal hemisphere. I have that at the moment and I’m bloody grateful for it.”
Whilst the 2014 Ukraine revolution may have centred itself around violence and protest, the aftermath seems to be one of hope. Younger generations in Kiev finally have the distance from Viktor Yanukovych’s corrupt government that they initially fought for, redefining the Youth as independent from the more conservative, older generations. With the reality of neighbouring Chechnya’s recent gay concentration camps setting in, the “Ukrainian youth continues to be very open to the world and defiant in the face of bigots,” Paclot summarises. “From my point of view, I can only welcome and encourage that. To be openly LGBTQ+ has always carried its political weight but within the context of a conservative state and church, it is clearly an act of defiance.”
As Juju, one of the many talented performers within the video, simply puts it: “There are a lot of beautiful people in Kiev. The world should know that in our city, you will meet someone interesting.”
“I am surrounded by so many different kinds of people with so many different ways of life yet they’re all grounded by a sense of freedom and love,” declares Maple, summarising the video in regards to her own life and surroundings. “They’re the kind of people I want in my life.”
“I love that it will hopefully take new life and mean something different to everyone who watches it,” she concludes. This is how you do a music video, people. Take note.
Kryptonite is out now. George Maple plays London’s Birthdays tonight (18/05/17) before heading down to Brighton for The Great Escape festival this weekend. Tickets for the Birthdays headline show are available from right here.