- TextTom Connick
Guillaume and Jonathan Alric, the cousins that comprise The Blaze, reveal the stories behind their awe-inspiring music video canon
In a few short years, two cousins have become one of music’s most talked about acts, lauded for their beautiful and profoundly moving videos and their unique brand of electronic music that has been known to reduce its listeners to tears. Today, Guillaume and Jonathan Alric – better known by their stage name, The Blaze – release their highly-anticipated debut album, Dancehall. To coincide with this exciting moment, the enigmatic pair have taken over the Another Man website, presenting a series of five articles that shine a light on their extraordinary work.
Guillaume: Before, we tried to do some other music videos, which were more drafts of what we wanted to do. Virile came when we thought The Blaze might be over.
Jonathan: It was the first video that we worked with our manager and art director. We made a lot of drafts and were like, ‘Okay – we don’t have a lot of money.’ It was our last independently produced video. We’d been lucky because we’d met people who’d opened some doors for us, and it gave us positivity to do things after. It was a turning point, the point where everything changed. We were very independent before that – producing the clips with our own money, et cetera.
Guillaume: It cost almost nothing. We had wanted to do something really, really simple. The challenge was, ‘How are we going to tell [a story]? How are we going to make some poetry?’ We had to make this happen with just two guys in a big building in the suburbs, with dancing, and a little bit of smoking. But we wanted it to be a moment. The music is five minutes long, and it’s five minutes of intimacy between those two men. When we finished it, it was a turning point. That was when we started to work with directors.”
Jonathan: Territory was the first one we produced with professionals, so we had the opportunity to do a real casting. And that’s how we found the main character. We had a lot of time to work on it – people let us go carte blanche, do whatever we wanted. They really trusted us. We took a lot of time to work on the idea, because when we work on the ideas, we love to play ping-pong! We exchange ideas, ‘this works, this does not work’, and the idea passed through a lot of different, bizarre and fucked-up ideas. It became like, ‘Ok, let’s talk about our family’. The gorilla scene [when one character beats his chest like a gorilla] at the end of Territory, this was a thing my big brother used to do playing with his kids. Around this video, a lot of cool things happened. When we went to shoot the part where [actor] Dali Benssalah hugs his mother, the mother hadn’t seen her boy for ten years. When we did the scene, she was really crying, because her story was the same. It’s what happened to her.
Guillaume: I remember, also, we cast many people and arrived to the casting and Dali was just smoking a cigarette outside. We told him, ‘Ok, so try to do the gorilla’. [laughs] He was very professional. After, we asked him to cry, and he immediately cried in front of the camera. I almost cried too.
Jonathan: The main character in Heaven is a tree, so we did a tree casting. [laughs] The main reference was Forrest Gump – there’s this big tree that Forrest’s girlfriend climbs. Also, The Tree of Life – all the poetry and everything that film contains really inspired us. Once again, we wanted to do something simple. The original idea was enormous, so we cut and cut and cut and cut. Eventually we arrived at the point where we wanted do a picnic with a mix of young friends and once again they’re just dancing and enjoying life. But it was important for us to talk about nature. Nature is not really shown in music videos, and we wanted to do something really calm.
Guillaume: It’s a contemplation of nature.
Guillaume: For a long time, we’ve had this idea of making a video in a gypsy community. Gypsy people are very charismatic, and their culture is very deep and very intense.
Jonathan: They suffer from stereotyping.
Guillaume: “And that’s all we want – we want to break the stereotype, in our videos. In this video, we speak about death in the beginning. But in fact, in most of the clip, we’re speaking about life, with all the flashbacks. We did a lot of research into the gypsy communities, in order to explore the culture and how we should speak about them. It was very intense and human – and it’s a great moment. We want to celebrate life in each of our music videos...”
Jonathan: “But life is intense.”