Raman Djafari creates a joyful disco universe for Elton John and Dua Lipa
The Blinkink director combines 3D and hand-drawn elements to build a psychedelic landscape populated with signature surrealist characters, as well as pop superstars themselves.
- 17 August 2021
- Jenny Brewer
Raman Djafari has a firmly established following for his wildly imaginative music videos and films, but this latest commission sees the animator leap to the big leagues. For what is poised to be the biggest pop star collaboration this year, Djafari has directed the video for Dua Lipa and Elton John’s Cold Heart (PNAU remix), bringing his signature surrealism and mixed media techniques in bounds.
The video sees a gang of four claymation-like 3D characters dressed to the nines in disco gear – platforms, flares, waistcoats and Elton-esque flamboyant glasses to boot – arrive via escalators through a portal in space, to a camp, glittering party. As the characters strut their stuff, 2D hand-drawn elements adorn the frames, adding an ethereal energy. One dancer draws a shooting star in the sky, while flying fish seem to effervesce from the souls of their shimmying shoes while giant flowers with eyes grow and surround them with nature. According to producers Blinkink, the video aimed to create a galaxy “full of celebration, dance and joy”. Created over lockdown, Djafari and his team wanted to encapsulate “a post-lockdown feeling to get back to a place where we can once again enjoy and feel music together in a fresh 2021-kind-of-way”.
Then animated versions of Dua and Elton, hand-drawn by Seo Young, invite the characters to explore more of Djafari’s vivid landscapes: an interplanetary one where each gets their own planet to dance atop. There is also a trippy countryside scene where flowers with juicy lips bop and the clouds are shaped like unicorns and castles. Known for his bizarrely brilliant characters and worlds, this project also shows another tone to the director’s work, whose previous films for Adult Swim and band Squid are more sinister and unnerving. This latest short however is pure sugary delight. He’s no newbie to the music video genre, with music videos for Lucky Chops and Fjaak winning major animation awards at La Guarimba and Animattikon, respectively.
On Instagram, Djafari simply says the project was “really fun to make” and, despite the pressures of working for two of the biggest pop stars in the world, has been gratifying. “Just the thought of having a project of mine be seen by millions of people made me really anxious,” he writes. “I knew that this would bring a lot of attention but it’s nonetheless a bit overwhelming… Seeing how great it has been received was a wonderful feeling though.” He also sings the praises of his “amazing” team who he urges people to follow. “This video wouldn’t be what it is without each one of them.”
GalleryRaman Djafari / Blinkink: Dua Lipa and Elton John, Cold Heart video (Copyright © UMG, 2021)
Raman Djafari / Blinkink: Dua Lipa and Elton John, Cold Heart video (Copyright © UMG, 2021)