Long before MTV began adding their names in the credits, and before programs like Making the Video hit the airwaves, music video directors have been equally anonymous to the janitor who cleaned up on set. Times have changed, and with more attention shifting to the talent behind the camera, music video directors have become celebrities in their own right. Case in point: Dave Meyers.
It wasn’t hard to catch his mug on many of the Making the Video episodes. Looking through a second set of lenses (his eyeglasses), and many times adorning a bucket hat, it was easy to see that this energetic and humorous visionary could easily be the life of the party. So, it’s no surprise that Meyer’s unique personality oftentimes translated into the type of videos he directed. If you’ve seen any of Missy Elliot’s most recent videos, most would agree that they look nothing like their cliche-ridden counterparts. You can thank the eclectic eye of Dave Meyer’s for a lot of that.
With nearly 200 music videos under his belt, from Jay-Z to Britney Spears, Meyer’s is setting his sights on commercials, feature films and even print work. He recently lent his creative talents to Mecca Clothing in the capacity of still photographer. Might not sound impressive, but what makes it noteworthy is that before Mecca, he had never shot a single photograph, at least not commercially. With the success of the ad campaign, Meyer’s is keepin’ it movin’. Lucky for us, he put the camera down for a few minutes to get AllHipHop.com Alternatives caught up on his latest moves.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You’ve been staying busy as usual. What’s on your plate at the moment?
Dave Meyers: I’ve just finished wrapping two Pink videos as well as shooting the album cover, and I’m prepping a Super Bowl commercial for Budweiser.
AHHA: You’ve been doing the music video thing for a minute, so take us back to video number one. Who did you direct your first video for?
Dave: Video number one was done in 1996 for a group called Whoridas. It took me ’til 1997 to get another video. I mean, I did a bunch of artists that no one has heard of, and then I kind of got under the wing of Master P’s camp. I did a lot of Soulja Slim, C-Murder and Silkk [the Shocker] videos. Then, I came across Kid Rock, who had not sold a record really. I did a video for “Bawitdaba”. That exploded, and I did all of Kid’s video after that. From that point, Jay-Z gave me a video and the Hip-Hop started taking off.
AHHA: You have a very distinct style which is particularly evident with Missy Elliot’s videos. The recent Korn video which incorporates Hip-Hop’s biggest stars, also comes to mind. Did you get into the game with the intention of trying to transcend cliches with your work?
Dave: I didn’t set out like it was some scripture. It’s just the spirit of my character. Like, I’m very much into the Lord of the Rings, Spielberg movies, and that type of thing. I’m a movie driven guy. I love the movie visuals and so in a lot of my videos, I’m always trying to push stuff that I’ve been impressed by in movies. But, I’ve never really ever referenced or made a reference to another video like oh, I want to do something like that. I’m not that entranced by it. At least, not early on. Now, I’ve developed an appreciation for a few of the music videos.
It’s about perfecting an art form, and what I see coming out in the Missy videos is that it’s where I’m most comfortable. I’m comfortable in the most absurd place. I was trying to push that through earlier in my career, but [labels] were like, we like the way you shoot, but we don’t want that idea. We want booty video! I’m like, oh alright, and I go and try it out because I’m always open-minded. I ended up doing them well, so I kept getting hired, but it’s really not me. To me, it’s not that challenging, even though I understand that it’s a desired “thing”. Once I get an artist who wants a “booty” video comfortable with me, like on the third video I’d be like let’s do something crazy. I’m just always trying to push that, but you know, some people do and some people don’t.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons about how to convince closed-minded folks to doing that stuff. It’s all about terminology. It’s all about decorating around them and not having them have to participate. “Bomb’s Over Baghdad” was a good example of that, where I painted the streets green and did all this crazy, extraordinary visual stuff. But, if you actually look at what [Outkast] had to do, they woke up in the projects, they ran outside, they got in some hot cars, and drove to a club. But everybody loved the video, well, at least I loved the video because it was just visually way out there.
AHHA: It seems like the majority of your videos are Hip-Hop videos. Had you always been a Hip-Hop head, and is that why you direct a lot of Hip-Hop videos?
Dave: In high school and college, that’s all I listened to. But I’ve grown a lot to appreciate the wide world of music and have been exposed to people like the Dave Matthews Band and what not who I think are so phenomenally interesting as musicians. I’ve done four Dave Matthews videos, I’ve done Mick Jagger and Aerosmith. I don’t know that most of my videos are Hip-Hop. I just think that it depends on what people focus on. It might be that more of them are Hip-Hop because more Hip-Hop videos are made than Rock videos.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have all type of videos made in all types of genres. But I am a Hip-Hop junkie. I go to Hip-Hop clubs. I’d never go to another type of club, but I’m not like a Hip-Hop “follower”. Do you see what I’m saying? Like, I enjoy the merits…I enjoy the soul of Hip-Hop, but I’m not like this guy trying to be “down.” I think I get respect for just being me. Although I’m sure there have been a few confused times where I lost my identity (laughs). But basically what I’m trying to say is that I love Hip-Hop, but I also love artists like Dave Matthews, U2, and Steven Tyler.
AHHA: So who are you feeling nowadays as far as Hip-Hop is concerned?
Dave: Musically with Hip-Hop, I’m still digesting [Jay-Z’s] The Black Album. That sh*t was so f*ckin’ great. It gets me so pumped up everyday I’m listening to it. It didn’t play itself out for me. I also really love the classics like BDP and Public Enemy. It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back is still one of my favorite albums. I’m pretty much an iPod man, so I just listen to the collection of songs I pick out, so it’s really eccentric.