video premiere: olga bell, 'randomness'

Paris Is Burning and Olga’s new Minister Akins-directed dance video is fire.

by Francesca Dunn
31 March 2016, 3:16pm

The Tom Vek collaborator and sometime member of Dirty Projectors shares her new obsession with BPM as she shifts the focus of her musicality to dance-ability with this unexpected gem from her forthcoming record. Inspired by her first viewing of Paris Is Burning, which swiftly followed Benny Ninja's vogue class, Olga started to concentrate on feeling the tempo of everything and now describes the resulting LP as "first for the body, then for the mind." 

On fast-paced days the Russian born, NY-based artist listened to club music from her youth and began a re-education that involved solo listening parties, studying early 90s house culture, and taking up actual dance lessons. The result is "Randomness," a track that if you're anything like us, you've probably had stuck in your head since it surfaced earlier this month. Linking up with director Minister Akins, the visuals present a strong reference to the song's origin. "His poetic lighting, moody composition and hyper-musical editing elevated the work beyond anything I could have imagined on my own." Olga tells i-D. 

"Initially, we referenced a lot of 90s house videos like Crystal Waters' Relax but the finished product occupies a much more expressionist and timeless space. I think we both wanted to convey the visceral feeling of losing yourself in movement." Talking of which, the dancing comes courtesy of four fabulous movers and shakers styled by Stephanie Singer: Sun Kim, Rude Mes, Omari Mizrahi and Soraya Lundy, who taught Olga all of her best moves.  As her lyrics say, if life is a sequence of some flashes in your face, colorful and commonplace… then we think we're okay with that. Press play. Feel good. 

You once said that "your latest work is always the product of everything you've done before." Where does "Randomness" come from?
I like starting with a concept and I wanted to see if the concept here could simply be my reaction to a pulse, the most basic unit of music. "Randomness" relates to the most physically exciting music I can remember, watching In Living Color and Crystal Waters' music videos at sleepovers, trying spazzy little versions of fly girls routines during recess.

What tempted you over to the dancefloor?
The need for the opposite of life on computers.

Have you been a fan of club music for long? Which artists in particular do you like?
I listened obsessively to Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, and Squarepusher in college but I'm not sure they qualify. I like music that I can't immediately understand; I like to feel overwhelmed. I'm definitely new to Serious Club Music, but I keep returning to Robert Hood, Jeff Mills and MK, so I guess I like the Detroit sound of a little while ago? I like music that sounds like work, that's not too slick.

What's your favorite tempo?

What's your go-to dance move?
Running man/try not to bite your lower lip.

Who do you wish you could dance like?
Soraya Lundy, Sun Kim, Omari Mizrahi and Rude Mes.

How did you come to work with Minister Akins?
I was hypnotized by his video for Cakes da Killa's "Truth Tella."

Tell us about your experience working with him.
He is amazing! Thoughtful and extremely detail-oriented. I think we're two kindred Type A spirits and his hyper-musical editing blows my mind.

History is made at night... what was the best night of your life?
No superlatives, only now...

What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you started out making music?
That feeling confused and questioning things is normal and actually really good for your art.

What movie do you reckon your new album would best soundtrack?
Something physical and serious plus something existential and goofy. Maybe the first Matrix or Run Lola Run plus Being John Malkovich or Spice World

Olga Bell's Tempo LP is due for release on May 27 on One Little Indian. Pre-order here.

Video Premiere
Paris Is Burning
olga bell
One Little Indian
Minister Akins