Directing Dua Lipa, Cardi B and Kanye West - A graduate’s journey to the VMA’s
Pre-Degree graduate Pablo Jones-Soler, one half of directing duo Bradley&Pablo, created the music video for Silk City feat Diplo, Dua Lipa and Mark Ronson, which was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award.
The Video Music Awards (VMA’s) are a highlight of the music industry calendar, with past years hosted by Katy Perry, Jack Black and Chris Rock to name just a few, the star-studded event aims to highlight artists whose reach and influence have elevated the music industry and global cultural conversation.
Music fans are invited to vote for their favourites across 14 gender-neutral VMA categories, including Video of the Year, Artist of the Year, and Best Collaboration.
Film still from Silk City feat Diplo, Dua Lipa and Mark Ronson
We caught up with Pablo and asked him to fill us in on his work for the Silk City video, and his journey from creative study to working with some of the music industry’s top talent...
"For us, the Silk City video was a moment where we really wanted to focus on getting an amazing performance out of an artist, and particularly with the help of Toogie, Dua Lipa’s choreographer, we all worked together to get something from her that people haven't seen before. So that was really rewarding and felt like a turning point for how we now approach the performance aspects of our videos.
We also tended towards complexity, lots of layers and a kind of maximalism. This video was an exercise in stripping things back and making less work harder for you which was also a super valuable process.
Since studying at Plymouth College of Art I went on to receive a 1st class honours degree in Illustration from Camberwell College of Arts (UAL) after spending part of my time in London studying graphic design at Central Saint Martins.
Whilst still studying I worked on a series of fashion films for an East London streetwear brand with my friend Bradley Bell and we got signed off the back of those to a production company called White Lodge, (the now-defunct fashion and luxury wing of Blink Productions) as a directing duo creatively named: Bradley&Pablo.
The first couple of years after graduating we spent honing our craft directing music videos, particularly for various artists associated with London based music collective PC Music.
As marked by our first music video ‘Hey QT’ (voted best music video of 2015 on FACT and Crack Magazine), we began to specialise and establish our signature style marked by toying with the conventions of music videos, experimental digital animation and conceptual world-building. This lead to a long fruitful collaborative relationship with London based PC Music collective.
And from there came a creative partnership with Charli XCX, providing creative direction for her ‘Vroom Vroom’ campaign including directing the video which received widespread critical acclaim across publications including being voted best music video of 2016 on Stereogum, and from here we started moving more seriously into the world of Pop music.
Although film was becoming my main focus I maintained a fine art practice exhibiting internationally (UK, Europe, Australia, and the US), working on various projects with London based nonprofit art collective Auto Italia and holding workshops and seminars at Universities.
We joined award-winning production company Pulse Films in 2016 and continued to push our practice working with bigger artists and moving further into the Pop world working with artists like Migos, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, and Frank Ocean.
As working in the Pop music world was becoming our focus and where most of our jobs were coming from, we decided to move to Los Angeles last year to be closer to the action. We changed production companies, now signing with Prettybird and have since worked with artists like Rosalia, Juice WRLD, Camilla Cabello, Little Mix, and Kanye West. As well as the music video for Dua Lipa and Silk City (feat Diplo and Mark Ronson) which has been nominated for a VMA this year.
After having spent the last few years really focusing on building ourselves in the music space we want to try expanding into new formats: commercials, shorts and eventually maybe TV or features so we are also starting to explore those avenues now.
Film still: Nicki Minaj
I loved art school and I think people who say it doesn’t prepare you for the real world are missing the point. Maybe it’s a privileged position and everyone is different but I don’t want my time in creative education to teach me about the real world - I think you should find that out yourself do internships, side projects, freelance. Learn about it that way.
Creative education is about time, space, community and intensity. It’s about finding out what you are really interested in, distilling the work you have made and the things that always inspire you, boiling those things down to their essence and then growing from there. It’s a chance to be self-indulgent and to really work on something you love and you can’t stop thinking about. Finding those super personal things, that drive, is what will make you different.
Don’t get hung up on being taught skills learn them yourself. Use your time in education as a space to explore concepts and ideas. It’s a space for unrestrained creativity. It’s the one time no one will give you boundaries so don’t ask for them!"