Words: Dylan Murphy
From brothers creating DIY films on their own terms to long-established directors shifting culture, we’ve curated a two part series of the Irish music video directors making waves.
For all the tribalism of the internet, it’s brought about some amazing innovation. In the past, becoming a director was difficult. It still is now, but now, YouTube tutorials, TikTok explainers and torrented downloads have made creating videos and learning new skills more accessible than ever.
The result is a wave of DIY directors, cinematographers, storytellers and photographers from Ireland coming to the fore. With this in mind, we’re celebrating the directors (in no particular order) who paved the way for the next generation raised on the internet and the innovators helping tell the story of game changing acts. Scroll for part one of the feature, with part two dropping shortly.
You can find Sam Fallover behind the lens and directing much of Dublin’s new wave of rap and RnB. Sam regularly works with TraviS and Elzzz and played an integral part in their debut tape Full Circle‘s number two spot in the Irish charts. Elsewhere, he’s consistently worked with The Chamomile Records Crew amongst other acts in the capital. Sure, on the surface, he’s making videos, but on deeper inspection, it’s clear he’s a key creative force in creating the wider universe of some of the country’s most exciting acts. For a taste of his work tap into ‘BBB‘ by TraviS and Elzzz, ‘Where u at‘ by Monjola and Aby Coulibaly (Directed with Robert Bass), Hare Squead’s ‘Like I’m Barrack‘ (Directed with Conor Forkin) and Aby’s ‘Long Nights’ which you can catch below.
Ellius Grace’s experience in portrait photography gives him a unique lens for his directorial work. It’s no surprise that through shooting people like Sinead O’Conor and Sally Rooney for the New York Times, he’s adept at capturing the essence of his subject. Moreover, his fingerprints are all over the Irish music scene having shot visuals for Junior Brother’s ‘This is my Body‘, James Vincent McMorrow’s ‘Hurricane‘, Soak’s ‘Last July‘ and Loah’s ‘NGLA‘ amongst others.
An eery nine minute opus that dropped in the depths of January, Lankum’s ‘Go Dig My Grave’ is haunting and timeless. The kind of video that lives long in the mind after consumption and one that is best inhaled slowly, like the first drag of a cigarette. Directed by Peadar Ó Goill, it’s the most powerful example of his work in music videos and comes after KNEECAP’s ‘Thart Agus Thart’ which pulled from lockdown brain fog to create a hypnotic world for a certified head nodder. Outside of his music videos, it’s worth keeping an eye out for his work in the forthcoming film about West Belfast rappers KNEECAP.
Whether it’s the overstimulation of Hak Baker’s ‘Telephones 4 Eyes’, the soft intimacy of Kojaque and Kean Kavanagh’s ‘Eviction Notice‘ or the light mysticism of Mall Grab and Skin On Skin’s emotive cut ‘Strangers’, Hugh Mulhern’s work in music videos often stretches singular emotions to their limits. Couple that with the surreal horror-inspired costume choices (ping pong balls for eyes, distorted masks) often present in his videos and it makes for unpredictable visuals where the only certainty is provocation. Some starting points for his directorial catalogue include, ‘Only Good Things‘, by the Murder Capital, ‘Jackie down the line‘ by Fontaines D.C, ‘Ladybird‘ by Newdad, ‘Holy Trinity‘ by For Those I Love and Kojaque & Luka Palm’s ‘Phoenix‘.
Aoife McArdle’s resumé speaks for itself. The director, writer and cinematographer from Omagh has worked on commercials shown during The Superbowl’s half time, American television like psychological thriller Severance (which she directed with Ben Stiller) and short films like ‘All Of This Unreal Time’ which was nominated for Best Short Film at Tribeca 2022. Somehow, she’s still found time to direct videos for iconic songs in between all this. Ranging from ‘The Pioneers‘ and ‘Helicopter‘ from Bloc Party’s 2005 debut album Silent Alarm, to fellow northern natives BICEP’s video for ‘WATER’. In terms of some personal picks, make sure you aren’t sleeping on the gorgeous visuals for Jon Hopkins’ video for ‘Open Eye Signal’ or James Vincent McMorrow’s ‘Cavalier‘ which was part of a run of three videos the pair worked on together.
The most special records often create their own universe made up of imagery, sound and real life experiences that see the project extend into the physical world. Gemma Dunleavy‘s 2020 EP ‘Up De Flats‘ certainly falls into this category and she teamed up with Rosie Barrett on two music videos that remain integral parts of the story. Through the interpretive dance of ‘Setting Son‘ and the celebration of the Sheriff Street community on ‘Up De Flats’, Rosie showcased her ability to add another layer to important tales from the capital.
Ok, so we cheated a bit on this one, but we’re including two brothers who collaborate in various different roles. Last year, Ruari directed the nostalgic visuals for Portrush artist CBAKL in the video for ‘Man She Loves‘ which shares DNA with Jonah Hill’s ‘Mid 90s’. Meanwhile, Conor breathed new life into the Kojaque Remix of Curtisy, Ahmed, With Love. and Rory Sweeney’s Detroit Rap-inspired cut ‘MEN ON A MISSION.’ This is a pairing to watch.
Part 2 dropping next week.