The LA-based director on creating Ashnikko’s disruptive universe for the #BeatsDaisyChallenge.
Not long ago, you might have feasted your eyes on some pretty mind-expanding scenes: a rave bumblebee, a chilli latex demon, a pink humanoid, an ice cube extraterrestrial. It’s as trippy as it sounds, and it’s the result of the #BeatsDaisyChallenge, which sees genre-bending American musician Ashnikko teaming up with Beats by Dr. Dre and TikTok to launch a bombastic new campaign, which will call upon the TikTok community to create a series of clips to be then used in the visuals for her raucous new track “Daisy”.
Here to help Ashnikko create this otherworldly universe is Los Angeles-based photographer and director Charlotte Rutherford – who is revered for her forward-thinking and disruptive aesthetic.
We caught up with Rutherford and talked lockdown, the rise of TikTok, and the challenges of creating Ashnikko’s world post-lockdown…
Hi Charlotte, how has lockdown treated you? How have you been staying creative?
I’ve actually been pretty busy during lockdown, so I’m still finding myself wishing I could have a day off to work more on personal projects and learn new things. I think being forced into an environment can be super inspiring because you start looking at normal stuff differently.
How has lockdown influenced the way you view what you do?
I think like a lot of people, having more time to think about projects instead of rushing from one job to the next has made me realise that I don’t wanna contribute so much mediocre stuff to the world that is saturated in mediocre stuff. It’s totally a privilege to be able to be creative as a job so I’m not planning on turning into a total artistic diva, but I think now I feel stronger about having integrity and a voice within creative projects.
As an established photographer and director, how do you view TikTok and this rise of user-generated and short form content?
I love TikTok, for me the best thing about TikTok was the diversity of the people using it, literally all people from all ages and all countries. I love that even with celebrities using it, no one can really mould what the next trend will be. We see celebs copying challenges made teenagers and i think the role reversal is great. I think in 2020 we all notice how our attention spans feel shorter and shorter and so i guess this short form platform kind of fits our current world perfectly.
And how did you set to work on creating the #BeatsDaisyChallenge campaign creative?
It was a fun process! Beats really wanted to explore how people creatively express themselves through colour. I decided since we are in quarantine it would be a fun way to create very abstract, tongue in cheek “self care” setups for the colours, and so that’s how the idea started. I took inspiration from Ashnikko’s music and style and utilised the creative freedom to get a team which I love working with on the project. Brett Nelson and Chanel Crocker created custom wigs and looks for the video which was a dream. Felix Geen and his team who are brilliant CG and VFX artists worked closely with me to make the visual happen.
Were you excited to work with someone as provocative as Ashnikko?
Totally! I love Ashnikko’s music and the whole vision. She’s a perfect example of how pop artists can be super multifaceted, I think that’s why she really resonates with young people.
What was the biggest challenge of directing a music video like this? Like laying it out remotely and then working on set?
The biggest challenge was preproduction for sure because COVID-19 laws were changing often, so we had to plan loads of different ways of executing the idea. The biggest challenge on set was just the amount of time things take with a small crew and distancing measures! But it was a fun experience.
And how did you incorporate the new Beats Powerbeats Pro colourways into different settings in the music video? Were there any cool refs or influences?
The Powerbeats are cool and futuristic looking so I liked the idea of just keeping them on throughout. Obviously it’s cool to see that they don’t fall out when you do weird movements but are also just banging accessories so using them as a consistent part of the styling felt right to me.
What are you excited about in 2020?
I think everyones 2020 is now a big question mark. But I feel happy and lucky and am enjoying working on some personal projects at my own pace.