- Words Ryan Cahill
Our fave photographer Chelsy Mitchell directs the striking visuals for Carlo's gorgeous new jam.
Our favourite photographer Chelsy Mitchell, who recently shot Charlotte Lawrence for our Big Read feature, has collaborated with rising star Carlo to create the ethereal new visuals for his latest jam, “Love Me”. Trekking across NYC in a plethora of dreamy looks, the visuals are truly a love letter to the Big Apple. From our eyes, it feels like a commentary about self-expression, a middle finger to social expectations around gender, sexuality and free will. Carlo and Chelsy teach us that you be exactly who you want to be, and nothing should stop you from being exactly that.
As they premiere the video exclusively via Notion, we catch up with the collaborative duo to unpick the thought process behind their debut project.
"Love Me" by Carlo
How did you two come to meet?
Chelsy: Carlo wrote me a really lovely email introducing himself. I think he wrote something like he finally decided to stop talking about what he wanted to do and actually just do it and I admired that. Funny enough we chatted on the phone a handful of times and then the first time we met face to face was actually on our shoot date for the music video. Our interaction on set felt super organic and easy. Talking on the phone can be so intimate so when we finally got together it was like seeing an old friend.
Carlo: I came to know her work through this new-wave incredible tool called Instagram! She’s collaborated on a few projects with the artist Patrick Church, and I was a huge fan of his and the images they were creating. Then they dropped a video project together, “I Look for You in Everything.” It’s beautiful! I loved the way she shot the artist and his muse. The colours in it were stunning, and there were these really amazing angles and takes throughout. I went and looked up the rest of her work and just loved her collection of videos. So I sent her an e-mail and from there we started talking over the phone and bringing together all of the details. Like Chelsy stated, we didn’t meet until the day of the shoot, yet we had a closeness that allowed me to create from a place with no reservations.
What made you want to collaborate on this project together?
CM: When Carlo sent me an email about directing his first music video, I listened to the track and instantly loved it. It made me feel really good, really upbeat. I would play it on repeat at my house for the following 4 months as we worked on the video and I still love it. When we discussed his vision and thoughts behind ‘Love Me’ he expressed how he recently moved to NY and was feeling energised by the city. And I think as a native New Yorker already beaten down a bit by the city I wanted to delve into that feeling with him. Also Carlo said the magic word, “16mm” and I was like yup, count me in.
C: Once Chelsy and I started working out the details surrounding the video, she just had a really great energy to her. Every time we talked there was excitement in her voice and we were bouncing ideas off of each other really well. It was a real collaboration. She really listened to what I wanted for the video and still brought her own special touch and feeling to it. Chelsy is also one of the most talented and genuine people I’ve crossed paths with in New York, and naturally I found myself being drawn to that type of energy.
What is it that you like about each others work?
CM: Carlo is so multifaceted. And I think he knows how to blend and marry all his talents and interests together really well. Not only does his music have a real authenticity but it also has an nostalgic feeling to it. I can’t lie we referenced a lot of Prince videos when we were making our mood board for the video.
C: Chelsy has an amazing eye. You can tell, it’s a common thread throughout all of her work. Her work also creates a feeling of nostalgia for me, which is a feeling I love and connect to. Her subjects always evoke a strong emotion or have a strong presence on screen and I believe that a lot of that is attributed to Chelsy. She makes one feel free to feel and just be, and I think she gives space for artists to express themselves and create from a very authentic place. Her latest project was a collaborative video with The Women’s Prison Association, who works with helping woman, mostly women of colour, re-take control of their lives after falling victims to the judicial system in our country and the stigma that follows and hinders women from re-entering the workforce. She’s someone who’s using art as a way to start up important conversations. I really respect and admire her for that. It’s more important than ever. Plus, there’s nothing I love more than a woman shooting film!
Tell us a bit about the making of the video?
CM: First off, our team was amazing. Everyone really cheered each other on the whole time and made shooting out in public in an uncontrolled environment very simple. We shot the video in one day which was crazy because we started at a studio location in Brooklyn where we shot all morning then we hopped on the subway into Manhattan, where we filmed a scene, and then we hit 5 locations all around the city. Being outside on the streets shooting with people walking by and some even deciding to stand and watch was actually really energising. It was so… New York, hah!
C: I truly manifested some amazing people for this project. I can’t help but smile thinking of that day! It was a long day, and until that final take, everyone was just so energetic and supportive. I felt like a damn superstar! Everyone was invested in what was going on and that felt incredible. Shooting on the streets of New York was wild and a performance piece in itself. I’d say in the 6 hours we spent running around we must’ve come in contact with 20,000 people. Every single one of them giving me completely different energy to work off of. It was a test for me to see just how far I’ve come in this self-love journey and just unapologetically express myself. I’m not going to lie though, jumping in the fountain in Washington Square Park in a nude slip with cartoonish beaded body parts on it at like 5 pm on a beautiful day in New York was nerve racking. I had to really sort of just tune everyone out and just dive deep into myself and keep having fun and enjoying the process. It was a fun shoot and I think that reads throughout the video.
What is the video about / what are the key themes?
C: The video is a visual love letter to myself and New York City. It’s an artistic conversation centered around self discovery. Undulating with themes of self-love, intimacy, and visibility, this debut opens up the conversation of what is perceived to be “acceptable” or even love-able. Moving to New York was an overwhelming experience and I found myself being flooded with existential questions and figuring out ways to answer these questions for myself. The song that found me yearning for a lovers affection had taken on a new form, New York City. I found myself echoing those feelings of being fully embraced by this new place I called home.
What makes this video so special?
C: It was important for the visual to accentuate my femininity. In a way, I wanted it to serve as a big “F.U.” to the engrained hyper masculinity that had shaped my years of insecurities and lack of self. I think if anyone watching the video gets even the slightest feeling of empowerment or realises that only you can define your own narrative then this video did its purpose. I’d love for this video to further push the conversation surrounding queer identity and our space in this thing called life. I want to remind people that you’ve really just got to love yourself, until the end of the world.