“Film yourself with your phone it’s gonna be amazing,” writes Ari de B in a four-way group email, a tongue-in-cheek quote from the brief given her early on by Berlin-based producer Tami T. “Then Julian appeared in the equation because we’ve been willing to work together for quite a long time so that was the perfect occasion. To me that’s dreamy.” The ‘Julian’ Ari is referring to is Julian Curico, a Berlin-based filmmaker who put frame, colour and effects to Ari de B’s vital vogue dancing, emerging from a growing ballroom scene in Paris. It appears here in a music video (below) accompanying a remix of Tami T’s vocoder classic ‘I Never Loved This Hard, This Fast Before’, which was featured in Ester-Martin Bergsmark’s 2014 queer romance Something Must Break.
Where the original video featured Tami T herself singing and beatboxing pitched and processed vocals to a microphone, the updated ‘I Never Loved’ version features Ari de B dancing on the rooftop of a friend’s Prenzlauer Berg apartment, up against a wall, in the middle of busy road, while the music joyfully flexes over a steel drum rhythm.
Here’s what the three collaborators had to say about the project below:
** I like the part where Ari is dancing on the median strip in the middle of the road, where was that shot and how did it go?
Ari De B: Ha ha ha, people were staring at us like ‘whaaaaaaaat??!’ I was half naked in the crowded streets, un-fucking bothered, ‘cause I feel so strong and empowered when I’m with Julian, especially during that moment where he was shooting me the whole day. I actually enjoy taking space like that in public. I think it’s important for us queer people of color to exist, to be visible, and if this has to be made in a provocative way so be it.
** What was the working process for the video?
Julian Curico: Tami and Ari had agreed on a collaboration and then asked me if I wanted to join in. I decided to make a portrait of Ari where she is doing what she loves to do. So we spent a whole day together where I filmed her doing that and, voilà, here is the outcome!
** Why did you choose ‘I Never Loved…’ as the song to remix and make a film for it?
Tami T: It started as a completely new song actually, but after a while I just realized that the vocals from ‘I Never Loved This Hard This Fast Before’ would fit perfectly in the song. It was fun to revisit something that has been out for a few years now, to make something new of it.
** Ari can you tell me more about the Paris dance and vogue scene? Is it something that is just starting to take off?
AdB: The Paris dance scene in general is INSANE. I started with hip hop so I’m still very connected to that scene and the dancers are just crazy good, the level is unbelievable. The vogue scene now, called the ballroom scene, has been around for four to five years now, when Mother Lasseindra Ninja and Mother Steffie Mizrahi (my House) brought it back from the States, becoming the French pioneers. It is very strong and very present now, which is good because the kids voguing are super talented, but also questionable. Everybody wants a piece of the cake and I’m scared that if it becomes too mainstream it’s going to lose its essence, which is deeply political. But Paris is definitely burning right now, to quote Willi Ninja, even the New York ballroom scene says that the most talented kids are in Paris now!
** How did you become involved in it and what attracted you to it in the first place?
AdB: Well, I saw Paris is Burning in San Francisco in 2011 and it was an epiphany, like all of my lives getting together. Because I’ve always been dancing and I’ve also always been political and an activist as far as gender, sexual orientation, race and class are concerned. Voguing was literally mixing all of those things and I immediately fell in love with it. When I came back [to Paris] I tried to find out if it existed in France and it was at its very beginning. I gravitated around the scene for years before starting to get to know my now good friend Kheedi Mizrahi (super talented singer and DJ Kiddy Sm!le), who made me enter the House of Mizrahi, about a year ago. Now my House is like a family, we practice, party, eat, get ready together, and I even walk balls. Sometimes my five-years-ago self who never thought that could ever happen and I are both really happy and grateful!
** What was the aim of the project?
AdB: To be visible as queer artists, to be powerful, to exist in this world.**