The director of Stormzy’s Mel Made Me Do It on creating cameo gold
KLVDR talks about the rapper’s epic, six months in the making music video that celebrates the best of Black British talent.
Stormzy never does things by halves, does he? From literally making it rain at the Brits in 2018 to setting up a scholarship at Oxford university for Black students, this is an artist (and philanthropist and publisher via #Merky Books) who knows how to make an impact – both creatively and culturally.
Pretty much everything he does is steeped in meaning, too, designed to represent and uplift the Black British community. It makes sense then, that Big Michael went, well, big for his return to music. His first solo single since 2020’s Wiley diss track Still Disappointed, the surprise drop of Mel Made Me Do It came complete with an 11-minute music video, featuring countless cameos from the likes of José Mourinho, Usain Bolt, Louis Theroux and even Jonathan Ross.
But it’s the final scene that makes the most powerful statement. Reading a monologue written by Wretch 32, Michaela Coel narrates, “Many great Black influential giants have touched people, from soul to soul, throughout many generations.” And, it appears, Stormzy managed to round most of them up for a cameo. Malorie Blackman, JME, Ian Wright, Dave, Little Simz, Jade LB (aka Keisha The Sket), and the late Jamal Edwards’ family are just a handful of the names who make an appearance, as a never-ending stream of pioneering Black British talent assembles outside a stately home.
How do you pull together a music video of such epic proportions? If there’s anyone who knows the answer to this, it’s the video’s director, KLVDR. Having worked with Dave, Wizkid and J Hus, to name a few, he’s no stranger to knocking out a cinematic masterpiece to accompany artists’ work. Wondering how he pulled Mel Made Me Do It off? Luckily for you, KLVDR’s about to spill all the details.
Could you talk us through the video’s key concepts?
The key concept was the idea that Stormzy is in a whole new space, the happiest he has ever been. It later grew into a bigger idea as we brought in more cameos. This was not only about just him, it was about everything around what he represents as a voice in the scene.
The influence and the doors that are being opened by everyone who has come before him and everyone who will come after.
When Stormzy approached you for the video, did he already have an idea of what he wanted in mind?
He had ideas of scenes that pointed me in the right direction. He was graciously open to new ideas, which I feel is the reason why we have ended up with a 10-minute video. There are no rules.
There’s an insane amount of mega cameos in the video. How many people feature in it, and how did you choose them?
I think there are about 35 to 40 cameos. Choosing them was a collaborative effort between Stormzy, myself and his team, but it was all based on the idea behind the scenes, which drove who was right for the video.
How long did the shoot take overall and what were the days like?
Six months! It took quite a few days to shoot, but with a song that has no chorus and is straight bars for seven minutes it was really just maths. Two takes.
Which was your favourite scene to work on?
It’s hard [to choose], to be honest. There’s too many good ones to pick from. As a Chelsea fan, it’s hard not to call the José scene the main one. But there’s something bigger in the Foundation scene – the Umbrella scene. It represents Black British heritage in all genres, so I’d have to say that.
Did you do anything to celebrate once filming wrapped?
We kind of wrapped last week, so I’m sure there will be a celebration soon.
How did the experience compare to previous projects you’ve worked on?
This was just different because of the time we had. Normally, making a music video, things are incredibly fast-paced – you could get the track on a Saturday and they would want it shot on Friday.
So time was a major difference on this because we had six months in between the first and the last shoot day.