Visionaries on videos at Emerging Lens | Arts + Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Visionaries on videos at Emerging Lens

Keke Beatz and Yohvn Blvck discuss the inspirations and ideas behind their Emerging Lens Cultural Film Festival offerings.

Visionaries on videos at Emerging Lens
"I really opened up for this video and tried to be as vulnerable as possible," says Johvn Blvck.

Emerging Lens Cultural Film Festival
April 24-28
various locations

With the 9th annual Emerging Lens Film Festival kicking off yesterday, Halifax is lit with the talent and flair of homegrown BIPOC filmmakers. One of the festival's freshest offerings on the itinerary is an entire segment dedicated to music videos created by up-and-coming artists on both sides of the camera. Director Keke Beatz and musician Yohvn Blvck offer a behind-the-scenes look at their filmic inspirations, screening April 26 at the North Memorial Library. Emerging Lens runs to April 28.

Originally from Antigua, Yohvn Blvck moved to Halifax five years ago. On his own and in a new city, loneliness crept in and led him to attempt suicide, which he now says was "foolish"—but it became the inspiration behind his song "Drowning" featuring Wren Kelly. Shot in Prospect Bay by Nicole Cecile Holland and Brendan Lyle, the video finds Blvck fall, but get back up.

"Drowning" is inspired by Greek mythology?

In the story of Icarus, he's given wings made of wax and feathers and two rules: Don't fly too close to the sun because his wax wings will melt, and he'll fall into the ocean; and don't fly too close to the ocean because the feathers will soak up the water, and he'll sink...but he falls to the ocean because he flew too close to the sun. Everyone has a point in their life where they've made that mistake, and they either learn from it, or they keep making that mistake. In the video, I pull myself out of the ocean because I want to try again. Every time you fail you rebirth yourself to improve on the task you set out to do.

What message are you trying to get across?

For me, I wanted to own up to what I did and saying it's OK if you've done it or thought about it—it's not such a crazy thing that you can't come back from it.

I feel audiences are always going to find a way to relate to videos, so I really opened up for this video and tried to be as vulnerable as possible. Oftentimes I feel as a Black man, I'm viewed as an angry person and someone closed off from their emotions, but I'm very much in tune, and I want to express the importance of understanding how you feel and finding a way to express it because it will eat up you inside.

As a Black artist, how essential are festivals like Emerging Lens?

I think art should be enjoyed by everyone, but I also believe we need spaces for the topics we want to showcase and talk about. Even if you find something you relate with, it's good to see yourself reflected in said art form.

As a person of colour in Halifax, I believe we should have more spaces for specific demographics and communities that we can go into and relate to more so than the broader community.

Hailing from North Preston, Keke Beatz began producing music at 13 and explored his creativity further via filmmaking soon after. With 10 years in the game, he's a sought-after creative powerhouse who brings both great music and visuals to the table. Lending his talent to local rapper Kiddo, who happens to be his little brother, Keke is coming through with a hot look for a hot track.

What's up with "RN" by Kiddo? There's glitchy elements to it and pink skies, but what does it all mean?

I wanted an anime-influenced kind of deal, so we captured simple scenes and kept them clean for post-production when we added the effects. The big influence for that video was originally from "Sicko Mode" by Travis Scott—I was very inspired by the visual effects of it, so I wanted to replicate something similar.

The main objective was to stir up a newer trend amongst the local scene, rather than a generic video shot down a side street or whatnot.

It definitely has a unique touch, what was the significance of your shooting locations?

The video was shot in Preston. The field we shot on is actually less than a year old, so that's probably the first music video ever to be shot on that football field. The roof we used is actually our house—it's not something we've seen done before, so we wanted to implement that. It was pretty guerrilla style and very spontaneous.

Why are music videos so crucial for representing artists?

It's important for the mere fact that whenever people are on social media, there's always a video. Nine times out of 10 you're going to see a video, and without one, you might pick up rotation, but it's not going to come as fast as someone who has one. Fans connect more with a music video because it looks more professional than someone with a bunch of listeners on Soundcloud. We like watching things unfold rather than having to imagine them unfolding.

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