By now, we don’t need to tell you to check out Drake’s “Hotline Bling” music video.
You’ve already seen it at least a dozen times. You’ve probably also entertained yourself with the growing number of memes that hit the Internet pretty much immediately after its October 19th release. Not to mention, the covers from everyone from Erykah Badu to Justin Bieber (the latter of which you can hear by calling 231- 377-1113).
And you may have even already perfected the Toronto native’s “Hotline Bling” dance moves yourself.
Unlike his previous videos – like “Started From the Bottom” – where he’s surrounded by his boys and others, “Hotline Bling” marks Drake’s first performance video.
Shot over two days in Toronto, the video is a creation of Creative Soul – a production founded by Director X and Taj Critchlow, executive producer and Director X’s right hand man. It features legendary Toronto choreographer and friend of Drake’s, Tanisha Scott, who is seen dancing alongside him in the video.
I caught up with Director X to hear more about the video that everyone’s talking about.
Who had the creative vision behind the video? Was it more so Creative Soul, or was it Drake?
This one was me. Drake usually has an idea as to what he wants to do with most of the videos, and I write them for what he wants to do. He wanted to be in a bar mitzvah for “HYFR,” so most of the time he has an idea in mind. This time, he hit me up and asked what I had in mind. He wanted to do something along the lines of my Sean Paul videos – my performance videos. He grew up watching my videos, so he wanted to do something in that world. He hasn’t done a performance video, so we knew we were walking into something very different right away.
Was the dancing something that Tanisha Scott played a role in, or was that mostly his own? Where did that come from?
The dancing was him – that’s his style. It wasn’t choreographed.
With the incorporation of the dancehall reggae moves, do you think that was sort of a nod to Toronto’s heavy West Indian population and fan-base?
I mean, we’re all Toronto kids, even though Drake is a tremendous success, all his friends are from Toronto so we all have those West Indian roots. He really understands all about the culture – he grew up in that culture.
In terms of the video, among other things, it features some pretty impressive lighting. Was that shot like that, or was it something you did in post-production?
Everything was shot there. The lighting, the sets – that’s all real. We shot over two days.
What do you think of the insane response to the video?
It’s pretty nuts, pretty nuts. It’s great to see, but it’s wild.
Do you think the response has been mostly supportive in that people are sort of poking fun and laughing along with him? Or at him?
It doesn’t even matter. Especially when it comes to Drake, people have something to say about everything he does. But believe me, life is a lot better when you dance and have fun.
What’s the best part about working with Drake?
I like the risks he’s open to take; he’s ready to go against convention. It’s always enjoyable working with him.
What was the most memorable moment on set shooting this video?
I’m not sure really…probably just trying to convince him to shoot a close-up.
Would you say then that you saw a vulnerable side to Drake in shooting this video? Did he have any apprehensions about going the whole “performance video” route once you started shooting?
He was good with it. I mean, Drake’s been touring the world, dancing on stage by himself for years, so he’s fine.
What’s next for Creative Soul?
I’m in Vancouver right now shooting a movie. We just formed Creative Soul in May, so to have come in with an eclectic high-profile job with all Toronto kids is great. We’ve all known each other for years; Myself, Taj, Drake, and Tanisha go way back. It’s a nice, family environment. It was a family affair in front of the camera, behind the camera, in post-production…the whole thing.
How do you keep humble and balanced in the face of success?
I’m just working. I focus on the work.