we speak to the director behind A$AP rocky and FKA twigs’s incredible ‘fukk sleep’ video
The Filipino-Spanish photographer and filmmaker Diana Kunst shares some exclusive behind the scenes of the production with us.
Photography Amanda Jasnowski Pascual
In a less joyously Sesame Street way than Beyoncé in Hold Up, A$AP Rocky smashes up car windows with a menacing crowbar (rather than a somehow more fun baseball bat), egged on by FKA Twigs as an urban, mischievous Puck.
This is the video for the pair’s collaboration Fukk Sleep, released today, and sees them on the rampage through a dialled-up dystopian New York, a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde robbing the local bodega and Chinatown’s legendary Popular Jewelry store. Fukk Sleep features Rocky in fetishistic, long red gloves, see Twigs pole-dancing like an arachnid stripper, and the duo entering a club led by freaky Insta-weirdos Fecal Matter. It was directed by Diana Kunst, relative newcomer to the music video game.
Diana started out as a photographer working for i-D Spain, Hunger and Vogue España and announces her entry into film with a collaboration with two of the most aesthetically interesting musicians out there. We caught up with Diana in London to find out more…
Tell us more about the concept of the video.
The original concept came from them. Twigs came to me and said, “We have this idea and we’d like you to develop it a bit more”, so it was a collaboration. The idea of the video is that they live with eyes open, they don’t sleep, because if they sleep they transport into another space. The scientists are there to make sure that they don’t fall asleep, but at some point, all the machinery breaks and the light go off, and suddenly they go to sleep, teletransport and live this crazy experience. So I interpreted this brief to think that if we’re all with our phones, we’re awake, but asleep at the same time. We’re not really taking care of what’s happening around us, so we’re kind of blind. So it’s like if suddenly we switched off our phones and went out into the world and lived a lot of amazing experiences out there. That’s the idea!
Whereabouts did you film this in New York?
It was shot all around New York City. Mainly in an industrial place above Red Hook -- a warehouse with a bit of a dystopian look -- and then it was shot in Chinatown in the Popular Jewelry store there, which was Rocky’s recommendation. It was crazy. The woman gave A$AP Rocky a lot of jewellery for free -- loads of diamonds and gold, and then gave everyone $20 inside a box covered in Chinese lettering on. She was bringing luck to everyone. Then we filmed in this strip club at the bottom of Red Hook and a restaurant next to Times Square.
You’ve created a dystopian feel using what already exists in NYC, which shows if you look at a city in a certain way, you can easily find dystopia in the here and now…
The city itself is very dystopian. It depends on how you look at it and what you look at. It can be shiny, super happy, super cool, but if you look in another corner, everything is super sad, badly treated, dirty and with a lot of darkness. It’s very dystopian. I think all of big cities have this feeling: a lot of evolution, but at the same time, things aren’t going very well and the citizens aren’t very well treated. I lived in New York City for a time and I used to focus a lot on these kinds of details -- more the darkness than the shiny things. I find things in the dark more interesting!
What was it like working with A$AP Rocky and FKA Twigs?
Working with celebrities of that level is challenging, but at the same time, I was surprised because they were super collaborative. I’ve worked with other celebrities before and they have 40 minutes on set and they’re not collaborators, whereas these guys were like, “OK let’s talk about it.”
It shows what incredible performers they are to be able to walk round New
York and make it seem like an alternative reality.
Yes, and you start to understand why these people are who they are. I’ll say, “I need this” and they’ll just go in front of the camera and nail it first time.
What about the styling? Rocky’s red gloves are such a good start to the video. They set the tone.
Rocky and Twigs have their own stylists. Their styling was amazing. That brings that fantasy world and surreal and dystopian world to life, making them feel like aliens.
They both seemed very at ease.
When we were preparing this music video, I knew that they were going to work with their own stylists and I was a bit worried. I kept on thinking: “How is Rocky going to be dressing? Is he going to be dressing normal?” Twigs really pushed it into her world, because there’s Faecal Matter as well – the guys that are like aliens - and at the end, she said with Rocky, “OK, we need to do something crazy” and in the end his stylist Matthew did it and put on the gloves and this backless t-shirt.
What was it like working with Twigs?
She’s a genius. She’s like a superwoman. She’s very multi-faceted and when she wants to do something, like karate, or anything, she is focused and really gets into it, trains so hard and in three months she’s the best at that. She’s been training like six months for the music video and she was doing amazing things.