Frank Ocean’s ‘Pyramids’ Video Director Breaks Down Visuals
By Rob Markman
Strolling through a desert strip-club on an acid-induced trip with John Mayer sounds like fun, but if you’re not that adventurous, maybe you’d rather just stay home and watch Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids” video.
“Basically we wanted something enjoyable to watch that compliments the song,” Nabil Elderkin told MTV News of the eight-minute “Pyramids” video that he and Frank Ocean released on September 16. “We just tried to come at it in that way that felt like he was on a trip, however you interpret it; an absinthe-induced journey.”
The Channel Orange single finds Ocean at a crossroads of sorts as he lyrically plays a love-struck lothario who is torn between his heart’s desires and getting money as his girl struts back and forth between home and her job at a go-go bar. Frank’s vocals are emotionally complex, but for the video, all Nabil wanted to do was entertain. “I just wanted to create something visually entertaining,” he said. “He told me two things: ‘I want to have a desert scene driving a car and I want John Mayer performing somewhere with florescent lights behind him.’ So I just interpreted it in my own way.”
Ocean eventually changed his mind and opted for a motorcycle, ditching the original car concept, but of course the Mayer guitar solo remained. “It was about two musicians coming together, working together,” the director explained of the chemistry that guitarist and Ocean exhibited on set.
“Pyramids” features beautiful panoramic desert shots and then of course there is the NSFW eye candy with the strippers. Still, Elderkin, who has worked with Ocean on his “Novacane” and “Swim Good” videos, applied some subtle, but serious after-effects in post-production, providing more of an artsy vibe.
In the desert scene, Frank rides at blazing speeds, while neon trails of lights follow him. The video’s dancers look pretty cool too, after Nabil added some computer generated body art. He was influenced a bit by the 1997 Al Pacino film “The Devil’s Advocate” and Johnny Depp’s 1998 cult classic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
“My whole goal during the post was to achieve something that felt real and surreal without it being overdone,” he said. “I wanted to give the same kind of dark feeling that was achieved in both those films. I just did it in my own way.”
What’s your favorite scene in Frank Ocean and Nabil Elderkin’s “Pyramids” video? Let us know in the comments!