Working in a creative profession such as music production requires mental fortitude. Connecting with fans at live shows helps artists see the impact of their work. During quarantine, fans have gone the extra mile to show their support for Jamie xx. All thanks to one drunken email from a choreographer named Oona Doherty…
Jamie xx last released an album back in 2015. That same year, Jamie xx played the main stage at Seattle’s Capitol Hill Block Party. That was the last time the Pacific Northwest, or anyone, really, heard of Jamie xx for nearly five years.
Since the release of In Color, Jamie struggled with frustration and perfectionism. He continued pushing his creativity, but found himself unable to finish new music.
After four years of radio silence…
After over four years of radio silence, Jamie xx dropped a new single last month. Idontknow delighted fans on the dance floor even before its official release, as Jamie xx snuck the song into his DJ sets.
I made Idontknow as an outlet for my frustration over not being able to finish any music for a while. I tried to be less precious with my ideas and just let go. I then watched this translate onto the dance floor when I started playing it out last year. Now, we can’t go out to dance and we need an outlet more than ever, I hope you dance to it at home and let go for a moment.
– Jamie Smith
Jamie reached out to Oona Doherty to make a music video
To produce a music video for the track, Jamie reached out to Northern Ireland dancer/choreographer Oona Doherty. Originally planning to work with director Jonas Lindstroem, Oona began preparing for an extravagant production with helicopters, drones and lots of dancer.
At the same time, Jamie watched a short film by Oona and director Luca Truffarelli, Welcome to a Bright White Limbo. The more intimate, lo-fi style of the short film connected with the feeling Smith was looking for. He asked Oona to make something with Luca instead.
Oona sent dance clips to Jamie… along with an honest letter
In an interview with Dazed, Doherty explains what happened next. Oona reached out to several friends to experiment and feel out the music. Frustrated by the back and forth of coordinating the production, Oona got drunk and emailed the clips directly to Jamie – along with an honest message.
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“I was in Belfast with no money, lucky enough to get a free studio, So I asked for people to come in listen to your track and have a dance. Their not models, Their not actors, Their not influencer’s, Just good chums who were willing to show up for nothing and dance for one night. Their Legends I heard you’d had a rough year. And when its rough the music and the art goes away for a little bit. And now you’ve has made this…. I think it important that you see, some just, normal folk, honestly reacting to your music. Their not perfect, Insta shiny, but theirs feeling it. And no matter what happens look how your music moves people! releases’ them, gets them riled up, full of beauty, awkwardness, pain, guilt and pleasure! Whatever the video ends up being I just wanted you to see this. And even if we never meet and even if times are hard, just remember, I am, my friends are and lots of people are moving and shaking and making a dick out of selves, letting loose, because of your sound. It a powerful thing. Be proud chum. Don’t doubt. Its good Your good” – Oona Special thanks to dancers Oona, Paula, Tom, Janie and Rosie. I reached out to Oona Doherty to be in my next video. She sent back these clips of her and her friends and this note. Idontknow out now everywhere: https://jamiexx.ffm.to/idontknow
Touched by what Oona had written, Jamie shared the clips and the message with fans on Instagram and YouTube.
Filming took place in East Belfast on the night before quarantine
Filming finally began the night before quarantine in East Belfast. Working against the clock, Luca experimented with a single shot style. Instead of rapidly cutting from one scene to another, the music video would be recorded in just one long take.
“We got kicked out of different locations. It started lashing down with rain and we were eating pizza at my friend’s house at nine o’clock and we thought, “Fuck it, we’ll try one more time around the corner.” And that’s where we filmed it, last minute. It was not planned.”
– Oona Doherty with Dazed
The final music video captures the intensity of that moment in time, the uncertainty and frustration, the approaching global lockdown.
Fans responded with heartwarming home dance videos
Fans immediately connected with the video and the interactions between Jamie and Oona. Since the release of the video, fans have sent home recordings of themselves dancing to Idontknow to Jamie, who has been sharing the clips on Instagram.
Oona has continued sharing home videos of herself and her friends dancing to the track, as well.
Jamie xx certainly isn’t alone in his frustrations. The pressure to produce, produce, produce haunts many creatives. Oona’s honest message inspired fans to show their support for Jamie xx. Such support makes all the difference!
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