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KC Locke on the Meekz 'Mini Me's' video: 'I had some creative venting to do.'

KC Locke on the Meekz 'Mini Me's' video: 'I had some creative venting to do.'

David Knight - 15th May 2024

The director has reunited with the rapper and fellow Mancunian to build on previous successes - and deliver a stinging rebuke to the copycats. We talk to KC Locke (above) to find out how his and Meekz's frustrations fired the vision behind the video for Mini Me's.

Since emerging in the late 2010s, KC Locke has become arguably the leading director of British hip hop, grime and rap videos, by dint of his impressive productivity and his relentless drive to continually raise the bar in terms of visual invention. 

Already this year, we have seen his latest video for Potter Payper, investing the rapper's badboy image with Pharoah-like presence for Midas Touch, and a further addition to his long-running collaboration with soul singer-songwriter Pip Millett.

I wanted to show that not only are music videos here to stay, they're more important than ever.

Locke's dedication and creativity - backed by a close-knit team that has been working with him for years, including production designer Jenny O'Sullivan (also his partner) and editor Jamil Shaukat, at his Manchester-based production company Swords & Eagles - has translated in a high loyalty rate from a range of artists.

High on that list comes the masked rapper Meekz, and the music videos that Locke has made with his fellow Mancunian, since the 6 Figures promo in 2019, provides a prime indication of Locke's impressive development as a director. In particular, the Like Me video used motion control brilliantly to show the multiple facets of the artist who never shows his face. Its one of the instantly memorable UK rap videos of the past five years.

Now comes the return of Meekz with Mini Me's and a new video by Locke that reaches new technical heights,  creating dystopian worlds in animation - and riffing on their past videos, including Like Me. Months in the making, it's a major achievement, to the extent of already winning two Best Music Video awards, at the  
Oniros Film Awards®️ in New York, and the San Diego Movie Awards. The awards buzz is building for Mini Me's.

As KC Locke tells Promonews there was a serious reason to revisit past glories with the video - not least because both he and Meekz believe they did not credit they deserved first time around. Worse, their thunder was stolen by others - the 'mini me's' of the rap game...

PROMONEWS: How did you hit upon the idea of referencing your previous work with Meekz – particularly Like Me. What was the attraction of revisiting that?

KC LOCKE: The song speaks about Meekz's frustration with the industry and how his style has been taken by other artists with no respect paid. So I wanted to take a visual stance and develop an idea that builds on the visual legacy and creative direction I have built for Meekz over our catalogue of visuals.

The challenge was how to improve on our previous works. For me, I had some creative venting to do myself. Partly because our video Like Me, released in 2020, changed the game in the UK for music videos and influenced a wave of copycat videos around the world. Some of these won awards, but we failed to achieve any industry recognition or accolades. It was this creative frustration which pushed me to go again with this new project and create something that not only pays homage to our previously videos but also reimagines it in a way no one would expect.

This was a unique opportunity for me to reference my own work and make it even better, learning what I did from the Like Me video and showing how the Swords & Eagles team have grown in size and ability since then.

Above: Masked rapper Meekz on the set of Mini-Me's, among the motion control rigs that made it possible.

P: Has the meaning behind the multiple Meekz’s changed? Are the different versions of Meekz now his 'mini-mes'?

KCL: Each Meekz character represented in this video is a different alter ego and character in the Meekz universe. Some have returned from previous videos while some new characters are introduced and represent Easter eggs for future instalments we plan to produce. 

P: Is Meekz really on a chair being swung on a robotic camera arm in-camera - or did you create that via VFX?

KCL: Ha ha, yeah - he's actually strapped into a huge heavy lift motion control robot and being swung around. I can see this now being the next rap video trend of 2024! So many mini mes, so many mini mes...

In my Meekz videos... he's the villain of the music industry within a Marvel-style universe.

P: How did you create the train journey into the desolate city with Meekz on the goods train? Where does the live action end and VFX start?

KCL: This scene required massive collaboration from all departments to get it feeling as real and believable as possible in-camera. So firstly we used a physical train carriage, and then VFX brought it to a whole new level. 

For me it's all about finding the right artists who can bring this level of physicality to a project because without an artist like Meekz being able to make the world feel real, no amount of VFX could fake the energy and realism he brings to his acting. With this scene I knew that a combination of handheld and smooth stabilised shots would really make the viewer feel like you are right there with him on the side of the train experiencing the journey with him. 

Above: KC Locke (centre, back to camera) shoots train sequence with Meekz on the Mini-Me's shoot.

P: Were you referencing the lockdown ‘chopper’ video for Respect The Come Up in creating the dystopian world?

KCL: The whole video is littered with Easter eggs from our previous videos. I wanted to show a future where people have tried to clone Meekz from his DNA and the world has fallen into chaos in some kind of post-Apocalyptic future where only the clones of Meekz survive.

This is introduced by transitioning through the Meekz symbolic Deezy chain to reveal the future, a barren landscape where Meekz welcomes the audience back after his hiatus in epic blockbuster fashion, hanging off the side of a runaway military train.

And the Respect The Come Up video was so iconic we had to bring the helicopters back again!

It's about building a brand, investing in your art, and leaving a legacy.

P: How long was the production process on the video? Who were the important people involved in making it happen (apart from yourself!)? 

KCL: The whole video from concept to delivery took two months to complete. It was produced in-house by our production company Swords & Eagles and shot in Manchester. Our close-knit family team worked tirelessly to bring my vision to life for this project! Hours of time, planning, shooting, editing, rendering, and so much love and attention went into making this video.

And big big commendation must be made to LMNTL for there VFX work in bring the vision to life!

Above: KC and Meekz discuss the previous take on the Mini-Me's shoot

Is it the most VFX and/or Animation heavy project that you've been involved with? 

This was definitely one of the most VFX ambition projects I have done so far but loved the entire process. 

P: You have directed at least 6 Meekz videos now. Do you have a new collaboration with Meekz in the works?

KCL: The catalogue of Meekz videos I have directed is my own supervillain universe where Meekz is the antagonist - the villain of the music industry within a Marvel-style universe. Now we have established this fully and now have a large audience who appreciate these types of unique concepts I'm excited about delving into more crazy 'out-there' ideas. We have some more epic things planned this year  [🤫]  

P: You've made a prolific start to 2024. How are you finding the industry at the moment? 

KCL: While the mainstream media is writing articles about the decline of the music video industry, it's hard not to notice the frustrations and sadness around such topics especially when the creative community behind music videos work so hard to nurture and protect our Art. To find we're always being asked to do more for less while trying to earn a living is a difficult subject.

With this project I wanted to show that not only are music videos here to stay, but they are more important than ever!

It's not about following trends. It's about building a brand, investing in your art, and leaving a legacy for people to appreciate for years to come. As creators, we produce content to resonate with communities and shape the cultural landscape and if that is lost through flash-in-the-pan forgettable content the culture we protect will be lost.

• KC Locke is represented for music videos by Marisa Garner at Marisa Garner Associates.

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David Knight - 15th May 2024


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