LONDON — Artist Mnelia recently released a new song and video that pays homage to ‘90s nostalgia - the R&B era from which she takes inspiration. The Senseless track is the product of a collaboration between Mnelia and StevieBbeatz. The subsequent video was directed by Terry Paul.
According to Paul, the artist approached him to produce several videos as far back as 2019 - this being one of them.
“I loved it instantly,” he recalls. “She gave me a rough brief along with a WeTransfer full of images.”
Those images reflected a fun vibe with lots of colorful shots to create a dreamy aura.
“I started working on a treatment from then, but we instead began working on other videos first (Say Yeah),” says Paul. “Things started taking off for her, much deservedly, and I knew as soon as she mentioned this one again to me at the start of this year, we had to do something special.”
Senseless was shot using an Arri Alexa Mini, but with the decision to keep the video framed at 4:3 with a border, helping to create a nostalgic feel. In addition, the focus was kept in the center of the frame.
“Shoot wise, everything ran pretty smooth on the day despite the amount of changes/setups,” says Paul. “It was definitely fun to see the ideas/track come to life in-person, especially when you’ve held onto the track for that long. Mnelia has been incredible to work with since Day 1, and before planning, she knew every way she wanted to perform the lines, (including) referencing Beyonce’s emphasized performance takes in Countdown. (She) is never afraid to be herself on-camera as well as performance, so I’ve always seen it as more fun than work when working with her!”
Paul had the first edit together in roughly two days, having already mapped out the song to the shot-list.
“Editing this, as well as directing, allowed me on the day to know automatically which takes were making it in and which would make the bloopers,” he explains. “Edit wise, I’m big on musicality, so wanted it to really float along side the song, especially the bridge with confetti falling, which is one of my favorite parts of the video.”
For that sequence, he used an overcranking effect, with Mnelia performing at 2x speed.
“A main reference for this was definitely Destiny’s Child - Say My Name, being an iconic ’90s visual in how they used colors, set design and movement,” he notes. “We wanted to bring those elements to Senseless, but in a modern and refreshing way. As well as having a slick all-pink set, one of the other main ways was embracing Mnelia’s amazing new motherhood and just showing her funnier/quirkier sides that we weren’t used to seeing in previous videos. The scene featuring Jennifer & Nadine also just gives that element of reality, being her real friends and showing their true selves in the visual, as well as the kind of [choreography] you’d imagine they’d practice at home in the bedroom coming to life with the synchronized dance scene.”
Also featured in the video are magazine covers and poster designed by Iqrah Zubair.
Paul says the video exceeded Mnelia’s expectations by 100x.
“I don’t think either of us would have seen this as what it was supposed to be, but (we’re) really proud of the final result and it’s definitely one of my favorite videos I’ve worked on, seeing the execution come out to a T.”