Parisian daily Le Figaro recently published an interview with Jérôme Guiot, the director of the two “Stromae Takes America” videos that have been published so far. Here’s our translation.
Stromae: The Secret Story of his videos in the United States
INTERVIEW- The Belgian superstar has released a new video of himself in Seattle, in a small neighborhood bar. The director of the clip, Jérôme Guiot, has known him forever, and takes us behind the scenes of the filming.
LE FIGARO – How did you have the idea of making these two new clips in the United States?
JEROME GUIOT – The basic idea was to develop the concept of Stromae’s “lessons” (editor’s note: videos in which the singer dissects his hits, and teaches the audience how to reproduce them) in the United States. In New York, we were starting over at zero; we could have fun with Stromae’s different status. Because over there, he’s much less well-known than in Europe.
In “Formidable” Stromae appeared falsely drunk in Brussels. In the videos in New York and Seattle, he’s presented as an unknown in the United States…
Each time, we have fun Stromae putting Stromae in the shoes of a new character. This time, the idea came to us in New York. I remember that one day, we had gone with him to see Madison Square Garden, the large venue where he will play soon (editor’s note: October 1st). There was a huge crowd that came out after a basketball game. And we were there in the middle of the crowd, people didn’t recognize him… Even though they were all walking right by these big advertisements that were displaying Stromae’s head for his next concert! The discrepancy was huge. It was striking. That inspired us a lot.
How does the process of creating these videos go?
Even if we get together often, we draw inspiration from everyday moments. We talk, we make jokes and if we like them we put them in our videos.
And we often work at the last minute… (laughs) We shot the video in New York in 24 hours with an ultra-small team. At 4 a.m. we were in Times Square, it was daylight when we got back to the hotel!
There is little text written before shooting: Stromae improvises and we keep what we like. In the video in the bar in Seattle, the last scene at the counter was not planned, we just asked Stromae to go sit next to the owner (note-according to The Baranof, the woman was not the owner, but the bartender, Michelle ~ stromaeometre) and talk with her. In the subway in New York, nothing was planned either and we were shooting without permission! We’re best when we improvise, and when Stromae stays himself.
How do you divide the work between you?
We are a very small group that works with Stromae. He works a lot with his family–for example, his brother Luc Junior Tam is his artistic director. Where he impresses me is that he remains at the heart of the creative process. He gives impetus to the ideas while at the same time succeeding in delegating them.
We make these videos to “take some air out of” the character. These clips recall that Stromae is above all an artist. Just a guy who makes music in Brussels.
What is the goal of these videos?
We make these videos because we know they’re going to be talked about, but also to “take some air out of” the character. We don’t want to get into the star system game. These clips recall that Stromae is above all an artist. Just a guy who makes music in Brussels. And the lessons remind us of Stromae’s beginnings.
Read the original interview in Le Figaro here.
Jérôme Guiot directed Stromae’s original lessons, and videos for “Formidable,” “Alors on Danse,” “Te Quiero,” “Je Cours” and the “Stromae Takes America” videos.
Cover photo from the filming of “Te Quiero.” Photo credit: Valentine Avoh