AHHA: Speaking of eccentric, the recent Korn video “Twisted Transistor” has Snoop, Xzibit, Li’l John, and David Banner portrayed as members of the band. It’s quite a different take on the notion of meshing Rock with Rap.
Dave: Yeah, I’ve experienced the eclecticness in music and universality of it all and I think that’s where Korn’s video came from. It’s breaking all molds of all categories. You got a Rock group that lets Hip-Hoppers sort of take the lead in representing them. It’s a very daring step. The Hip-Hoppers embraced it and said let’s f*ckin’ rock with this, you know? They represented like Rock and Roll stars and loved every minute of it! I mean, Li’l John’s got a rock album coming out. It was great to watch all the personalities gel. The proof is in the pudding. Everybody really is one in the same. Everybody has their personality differences in their musical style, but they’re all expressing the same thing. There is this universal code.
I really hated the judgement on Hip-Hop early in life. You know, MTV tried to bury it and everybody’s walking around like, “MTV wants to bury Hip-Hop!”, and I was like you can’t bury Hip-Hop. It’s too strong. It’s so from the streets that there is no way to bury it. I think that’s where Rock has lost it. It’s lost its street edge and its become Pop, and Pop Rock does not work. I mean, sure, it works for teens, but that’s Pop Music. That’s Hillary Duff and stuff like the little Pop icons that work. But true Rock is the same as true Hip-Hop. It’s the same thing. If you look at Korn, they are from the streets. They’re very in tuned with their audience.
AHHA: And the way the audience gets their music and videos has really evolved. How do you feel about Myspace or iTunes? I remember reading that when iTunes first launched their video service, over a million videos were downloaded within two weeks. How is this new technology changing the game?
Dave: If you look at what was downloaded, it’ s really not the Top 40. It brings up a lot interesting things. It brings out the question about the legacy of videos. Michael Jackson videos were downloaded. Sure, Kanye’s video was up there and downloaded while the song’s hot. But I don’t know if people will download it in say, two years. I think it’s such a new experience. It’s like a floodgate of so much to get, so everybody goes and gets their ten favorites, but will they continue to get them? Will they continue to collect videos and what not? I think that’s where the real business plan needs to fall into place. I think once you see where the trends are, I’m sure it’ll affect things. When you can guarantee that if you release the video on iTunes, you’ll make a million dollars , then the huge music video budgets will come back.
What I’ve noticed is that a lot of the more obscure acts are getting a lot of the attention on there. That is not what MTV plays. It’s like the Usher video might not get downloaded as much as say, some Bjork video because the audiences are different. I think if anything, the iTunes creation will create more opportunity for lower-budget experimentation with other artists who may have been shut out of the MTV world.
AHHA: Ironically, it seems that video directors even get shut out from the MTV world, so to speak. I’m talking about the VMAs.
Dave: We come up with the ideas, and despite the lack of credit…I think [my videos] have won 15 VMAs and I only have one Moonman, because they give them all to the artist. It seems like you’d sit the director next to the artist at the VMAs. I can’t even get to the stage anymore. I mean, like Missy will thank me and I can’t go up there. It’s so obnoxious how they plan those things. I did get to go to the stage when I did win Best Video, but that was in New York. In Miami, it was very dissatisfying to me. It was very much a show, rather than an awards show. But when all is said and done, I’m not complaining.
AHHA: As far as awards shows go, I did hear Missy shouting you out at the 2005 American Music Awards while she was on stage.
Dave: That was nice. You know, I don’t think Missy’s album sales parallel her tastes. She goes platinum, but she’s not selling ten million records. Yet, she’s the pioneer and on the cutting edge of videos. Then you’ll get like a really terrible video from another artist I won’t name, and they’ll sell ten million records, so it’s weird. But with all that said, I think the business plan behind the amount of money it takes to do what Missy’s thinking puts her in Michael Jackson land. She could easily spend ten million on a video if she wanted to. To me, she’s always been one of those artists who I wish she’d sell a lot, because she’d turn around and spend it on her videos. She’d turn it right back around on some visual stuff.
AHHA: I understand you’re dabbling a little in still photography. You’ve just finished working on a print campaign for Mecca Clothing, right?
Dave: Yeah, it was my second run with them. I did their Fall campaign, early on in 2005. It’s kind of interesting the way that all come about. They approached me to be in their campaign as a spokesmodel for their fall campaign, which I agreed to. I’m a director, so I control all the behind-the-scenes usually. I’m used to that, but I’ve never been in front. I was nervous that someone would film me wrong or understand my degree of vanity [laughs]. Of course, not in any sort of egotistical way, but more of some sort of protection blanket. I looked through the Mecca catalog of previous stuff. Some shots were great, and some shots were not so great. I didn’t want to be one of those guys that was not so great. I didn’t know who the photographer was going to be and I wasn’t that familiar with the Mecca camp, so I said I’d do it. But they had no money for the spokesperson. It was very low modeling money. I kept worrying if it was done wrong, like Jay-Z and some of my clients would see it and just be like “Look at this fool, what is he?!”
If it didn’t capture the real me, I didn’t want it to seem like I was some Hip-Hop head or doing something that really wasn’t me. But I liked the idea of it all and basically said I want to shoot it. They asked if I had shot anything before and I said no [laughs]. But I said I’ve shot 200 of the most important artists and it’s basically a lot easier than shooting [motion picture] film, so they should have no reason to fear. I got into it and kind of elevated the whole situation. I got some good retouchers in there. I got a good photo team together. I started creatively conceptualizing and basically did my auto portrait and shot a few other guys as well. [Mecca] liked the experience and came back to me as a photographer, and I was not [featured] in the Spring campaign.
AHHA: So you’re really branching out. What else are you interested in tackling from a director’s standpoint?
Dave: I really want to do a movie. But, I’ve been doing a lot of commercials, and if a movie doesn’t happen, then I’ll continue to try to evolve in the commercial world. It’s a much more perfect world to play in. I really enjoy the relationships I’ve had with the agency people and the clients I’ve been building. I am really beginning to be received with the same amount of attention that the videos have gotten me, but with a whole new group of people, so it’s kind of a nice evolution.