Rob Ulitski - 14th Jan 2022

Alexander Brown directs a brilliantly ferocious performance promo for Bloc Party's return to action with Traps. 

Playing their comeback single, frontman Dele Okereke and his bandmates are effectively trapped themselves, within a seething mass of enthusiastic fans. This is presented in a disorientating fashion, mostly in extreme close-up - this was shot by DoP Pieter Snyman on a probe lens - intercut with the frenetic motion of the crowd, forcing their way ever closer to the group, and at one point dragging a bandmember from a car. 

The blood-red lighting and indistinct shots of the people surrounding them (they are wearing masks throughout) creates a breathless atmosphere, which matches Bloc Party's unconstrained energy. Overall, it's a brilliantly kinetic and stylish piece of work by Alexander Brown, making one of his irregular returns himself to music videos.

There’s something intrinsically cathartic but also unsettling about being in a crowd.

"The basic idea for me, was to make a video which felt like you are in the middle of a mosh pit," says Brown. "After being conditioned by lockdown, there’s something intrinsically cathartic but also slightly unsettling about being in a crowd.

"I was immediately drawn into the sardonic character Kele created in the lyrics, which is all a bit wild and unhinged and lurid. I wanted to capture that feeling of being in a crowd or a club and not being entirely comfortable with the intimacy. It’s a performance video in all it's glory. I wanted it all to be shot in an unhinged way, as if the band are playing from within the crowd, removing the stage/crowd divide.

"The camera swings and turns like a headless chicken - and everywhere it turns we unravel a new moment. It feels chaotic but within the chaos we have disorientating, dizzying transitions, and carefully orchestrated setups with surprises and twists and turns along the way. The song is called Traps. So it seemed interesting to have the band feel like they were trapped in this mob and we can’t quite tell if its amazing, or uncomfortable.

I wanted to give the video a touch of The Evil Dead.

"It was a conscious decision to give everyone masks. Aside from the safety aspect, I wanted the crowd to be anonymous and menacing - we don’t see anyone’s faces, only their legs, or chest. I want it to feel like a jungle of limbs. They are all wearing dark clothes so there is a homogenous feel to them, threatening.

"We shot this with a probe lens so we could go right up to the band, and do all sorts of amazing movements. Big thanks to Piet [Snyman] for waving around a metre-long camera completely handheld! We shot this on a Red Komodo, which I think makes it the longest lens, with one of the smallest cameras."

Brown adds that the moment when the bandmember is dragged from the on-set car was another touch of madness that the song required. "I wanted to give the video a touch of The Evil Dead, and having the crowd pressed up to the glass, pulling Russel out of the door at the end just seemed to do that. We weren’t sure if we were going to get that on the day as it was the last shot, with twenty minutes to spare we just managed to squeeze it in. It was handy having an incredibly long lens as it means we could poke it right through a car window.

"I want to give a big shout out to all the people who came down on the day, the energy we got from the crowd was fantastic!"

PRO Credits

Credits

DirectorAlexander Brown
ProducerEllis Fox
Production CompanyCardel
Executive ProducerCarla Mooney
Executive ProducerDelwyn Mooney
1st ADPaolo De Bautista
Director of PhotographyPieter Snyman
Focus PullerJosh Tue
Clapper LoaderPatrycja Cygan
GafferHelio Ribeiro 
GripBrett Hills
Hair & Make-upSophie Roberts
EditorAvner Shiloah
ColouristJonny Tully
CommissionerJohn Moule
LabelBMG
Other credits2ND AD: Savanna Small SPARKS: Dragos Czinjepolschi, Tomas Canelas MEDIC: Nigel Laughton RUNNERS: Harvey Abbas, Teo Han PHOTOGRAPHER: Alan Harford

Rob Ulitski - 14th Jan 2022

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