St. Vincent just released her new album MASSEDUCTION, a technicolored pop album that wrestles with a spectrum of issues both societal and deeply personal, as such it was fitting that the music videos released under the album were equally bright, pop art-esque and subtly disturbing. St. Vincent has always been a master of aesthetics, and her latest music video for Los Ageless is no exception.
We caught up with the video’s behind-the-scenes photographer, Maria Jose Govea, aka Thesupermaniak to find out what it was like to step inside St. Vincent’s imaginary universe, and landing a dream gig shooting for Red Bull. Read, below!
Can you tell us a little bit about how Red Bull collaborates with artists to create content? How did you get connected with Red Bull for this project?
I’ve been working with Red Bull for the past 5 years. My first project with them was in Toronto, where I used to live. They were looking for the right photographer who could handle a worldwide event taking place int the city and I was recommended for the job. Since relocating to LA a few months ago, I’ve been working a lot with the team here and I’m happy to say we’ve done some amazing stuff together, including the St Vincent behind the scenes and her live show for Red Bull Music Academy Festival.
The music video is so visually striking, how much of that was the brain child of Annie/did you feel any pressure to do the visuals justice by capturing the environment?
The video is so cool! It was a collaboration with creative director Willo Perron, in partnership with Red Bull Music. The pressure is always there, but I was just focused on being very observant and documenting what was going on around me. I think I didn’t blink once while I was there! I had this wonderful environment laid out in front of me so I sort of instinctively knew how to capture it.
As a behind the scenes photographer, how do you navigate around a set without getting in the way?
That’s pretty tricky and nerve wrecking. You have to find a balance between being a fly on the wall but also getting in there as much as you can. I introduced myself to everybody before I started shooting and asked what my boundaries where. Luckily the whole crew was extremely relaxed and there was never an issue, which gave me the confidence to be super pro-active and get the shots I wanted. I spent the whole day squatting, walking backwards, avoiding cables and watching out for cameras but it was all worth it!
Taking someone’s photo is a vulnerable act, how do you create an environment where your subject becomes unselfconscious?
You have to play it by ear and be respectful of people’s personal space. When I shoot bts I always tell people to please feel free to kick me out if I get in too much in their way! I start shooting from far at a slow pace and I get closer and closer as I feel the subject gets more comfortable. It’s also a matter of chemistry. Sometimes it just works better than others.
What was it like working with Annie Clark?
Annie was as cool as you could imagine. Maybe cooler. She was extremely professional and nice. She also has a very unique and awesome sense of humor. When I first got there in the morning I asked her to let me know when she was ready for me to start taking photos of her. When the time came, as she was sitting in a chair getting her make up and hair done, she looked at them and told me, in a very laid back tone: “BTS, you can start bts-ing”.
When you’re shooting a live show, how do you deal with all of the factors outside of your control to make sure you get the shots you want, ie lighting, movement, etc.
Since you can’t control certain factors, you just let those factors shape your images. I’ve been shooting shows for a long time so no matter what is thrown at me, I’m gonna do the best I can to get the best possible images. Being experienced, being prepared and having the right equipment really helps. I’m never certain of what I’m going to get but that’s the beauty of it.
What’s your advice for photographers looking to work with musicians or clients like Red Bull?
There’s a lot of ways to reach out to potential clients these days, but the way I did it was by working hard at creating a solid body of work and building relationships with local musicians, brands and clients. Put out great work, network locally, get noticed, get hired.
Do you have any future plans to continue working with St. Vincent or any upcoming projects you’re excited to share?
She told she loved my photos so fingers crossed! I’m also doing a lot of exciting projects with Red Bull in the upcoming months and I’m doing my first job with Arcade Fire in a few days. Can’t wait!
Find out more about Maria Jose Govea/Thesupermaniak here
Follow her on Instagram
Behind the scenes photos: Maria Jose Govea / W Mag
Concert photos: Maria Jose Govea / Red Bull Content Pool