fashion insiders’ favourite music videos: navaz batliwalla
In a new series of regular interviews, i-D invites our music-loving fashion friends to select and dissect their ultimate inspirational pop videos.
London-based stylist and editorial consultant Navaz Batliwalla has charted emerging fashion trends and style movements for over 15 years. She started her straight-talking and influential blog at the dawn of the blogging boom. Batliwalla continues to document and analyse emerging trends in international fashion, beauty, technology and retail and has a book coming out later this year. Her all-time favourite music video, Weekender, by Flowered Up, is an early 90s cult classic, much loved by those whom, like Batiwalla, were out clubbing every night at the time.
Council estate kids from Camden, Flowered Up emerged from the post-80s London rave scene. Boasting an inventive and unpredictable sound, their hedonistic drug-fuelled antics earned them much media notoriety. Released in 92, Weekender was their most well-known single, which at 13 minutes long required a suitably atmospheric video. Directed by Andrew W.I.Z Whiston - who has subsequently created videos for Marilyn Manson, Primal Scream, Dizzee Rascal, Hurts and All Saints, among many others - the result is a gritty-yet-evocative glimpse into early 90s nightlife-as-escapism. Navaz sat down with i-D to discuss why almost 25 years later, the video is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Navaz: " Weekender came out at a time when vocal House piano anthems were the reigning hits of the dance floor. It was an antidote to those hands-in-the-air screamers, though, because it sounded more eclectic. I was studying fashion, then, living in West London and having the time of my life. London's club scene was incredibly vibrant in the early 90s and I was a regular at clubs like Flying, Pure, Boys Own and Sign Of The Times. There was a recession, but we were somehow oblivious to it in our bubble of youthful, delirious idealism
At 13 minutes long, the video for Weekender is really a short film and I think could easily be extended into a feature film. It's a questioning tale of the average working class nine-to-fiver, getting through the week, and then letting loose at the weekend. Lee Whitlock plays a young window cleaner finishing up for the week, going out, getting wasted and I guess, pondering on what life's all about. Most of us on the cusp of adulthood could relate.
The video is wonderfully shot with its Scorsese-esque scene setting and includes one of the best portrayals of that familiar Saturday night euphoric haze I've ever seen on film. Maybe it's hard to capture unless you've experienced it and the director, W.I.Z, was one of us, he was a regular at those clubs as well.
It's an utterly immersive piece of filmmaking. It has a brilliant 5-minute build-up and narrative, and then 6 minutes in, the tempo changes, in come the Stax horns; pills and money fly through the air to introduce a hedonistic club scenario. It segues into the fantastic, surreal scene where a shrunken-down Whitlock runs along the grooves of a 12-inch record on a Technics turntable.
This video came out around the time that the anti-glam photography movement was emerging - Corrine Day, Juergen Teller, David Sims. It was the era of grungy, natural beauty and you can see that replicated in this video. Slightly sweaty-haired, dark-circled, no make-up beauty was in and that didn't come from the runway, it came from raves and clubs and staying up all night. Contouring and bronzer certainly didn't exist in that world. Also, that scene was a micro-moment; a couple of years of London's flourishing music and fashion scene encapsulated in the immediate post-Thatcher years.
The band wasn't a mainstream chart act. In fact, Weekender was their best performing track and it only reached number 20 in the UK charts - mainly due to it being too long to get radio play. They broke up in 1993. It's a shame because the music was great and had so much potential. They tried to reform in 2005 but it didn't really work out. It's so tragic; the two brothers Liam and Joe Maher both later died from drug overdoses. In that sense, the Weekender video is poignant - I don't think I picked up on its cautionary anti-burnout message at the time.
When I re-watch Weekender I'm completely immersed and just want to lose myself on the nearest dance floor, feel the condensation dripping from too-low ceilings, taste the dry ice and smell the cigarette smoke. Although the video captures that era, it has really stood the test of time."
Text James Anderson
Image via YouTube