Just a couple of weeks ago iLoveMakonnen dropped a new video for ‘Back on the Xan’ and one of the credits caught our attention: “Directed by Nic Ojae.” Nic’s a Melbourne-based documentary photographer who’s work we’ve been across for a while now. We hit him up to talk about the project and how it came to be.
How did you link up with iLoveMakonnen?
I was in Seoul a few years ago when some close friends were hanging out with him in Melbourne. They told him he had to link up with me at some stage and we ended up making it happen.
How long were you on tour with him?
The tour itself lasted 23 days through Europe. Makonnen was actually supporting G-Eazy, so the scale of the tour was enormous.
You went through a bunch of different countries, yeah?
We started in Copenhagen and zig-zagged our way to London where Mak performed at Rinse FM’s Born & Bred festival. We passed through 13 cities and 9 countries. We were in a convoy of tour buses—waking up in a different country never got less weird.
Logistically was it hard to shoot the whole thing on 16mm?
I had shot some on a previous trip to LA and Texas with Mak so the process was tried and tested. Logistically it was a nightmare but it was definitely part of the fun. In a backstage sea of DSLR’s my clunky metal box raised some eyebrows.
Was Makonnen in to the idea of doing it on film or did it take some convincing?
He always trusted my vision for the project.
What’s he like as a collaborator to work with on a project like this?
The music video is actually more of a documentary from the time I spent with him. It captures him being himself and that’s what we intended the video to do. Mak definitely spends a lot of time in his own thoughts and I feel like that was conveyed in the end.
How much footage did you end up with? Was it a long editing process?
I ended up with around 30 minutes of footage. It was developed and scanned in LA and posted back to me here in Melbourne. Viewing the footage for the first time was a treat. The editing process was lengthy but the excitement made it easy work.
You mentioned some trouble with the label, do you want to talk about that?
Our initial plan was to use another track, a sadder more personal one, but the lyrics weren’t quite in favour of the label. Some artists get away with such honest expression but in this case they weren’t having it. It’s probably not worth going in to, but they do have quite a bit of a say in regards to what comes out and when. I definitely learnt a lot in that respect.
- Video and photography by: Nic Ojae