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Courtesy of Protein

Sam de Jong and S-Type team up for Cadillac film series

The Dutch director and Scottish music producer team up for ‘A Series of Short Journeys’, the legendary car company’s first foray into narrative shorts

A cinematic exploration of four diverse characters and their daily lives; this was the starting point for Cadillac’s new four-part short film series entitled ‘A Series of Short Journeys’. Marking the brand’s first foray into narrative short film, the features were each directed by Sam de Jong, a director known for his colour-soaked aesthetic, and set to music created by S-Type, a visionary producer based in Glasgow. Rooted firmly in everyday scenarios, the vignettes – which will be released in full alongside the soundtrack on January 11th – mark a new direction for the iconic company, unravelling short narratives filtered through the eyes of unlikely protagonists.

These character-driven shorts are familiar territory for de Jong, a director whose work frequently explores modern youth culture and the personalities driving it forward. He describes his work as playful, characterised by bright colours and a general reluctance to take itself too seriously; “I like to make very poppy, flashy things”, he explains. “I like things to be less masculine, more humorous and self-deprecating. That’s what I tried to do here too, to create these anti-heroes driving fancy cars. The characters are all a little goofy… They have their quirks.”

This emphasis on youth and creativity is characteristic of Cadillac, a brand particularly renowned for its celebration within rap music. The Escalade is frequently cited as one of the most popular cars chosen by rappers, whereas countless musical tributes to the model even resulted in their own sub-genre, Cadillac music. Now, the company is undergoing a transformation; the emphasis on music is as strong as ever, yet the inclusion of filmmaker de Jong indicates a shift towards the promotion and celebration of youth talent across a variety of creative fields.

Still, it was the company’s rich history that attracted producer S-Type to the project – “Cadillac has a strong legacy in the rap music – which is my world”, he says. The involvement of de Jong was another key motivator for the Scottish producer – “I loved Sam’s short film work and his involvement was a guarantee that this would feel original”, says S-Type of the collaboration. “The shorts are vignettes with a lot of energy. He crams a lot into the duration - and gave me a lot to rip on emotionally. That’s something I try to achieve in my music, to tell a story as concisely as possible. That’s how you keep things powerful.”

Each vignette relies on a seamless blend of audio and visual; the music flows alongside the narrative, illustrating the importance of driving to a strong soundtrack. This synchronicity of motoring and music speaks to Cadillac’s own history; the company gained its legendary musical connotations back in the 1950s, when Leonard Chess founded Chess Records and subsequently sold records from the back of his Cadillac. In this sense, the company not only managed to maintain a reputation for creativity but also transform itself into a unique piece of cultural iconography.

When questioned on the challenges of pairing his music with visuals, S-Type admits that he often scours the Internet for inspiration when composing his own tracks. “Sometimes, when I work on music, I like to actually play something in the background; it could be a film or nature videos, but I do actually love to set my music to those driving videos you can find online – it always seems to be driving in Miami for some reason!” 

Although he doesn’t always begin with a visual reference, he explains that the relationship between music and imagery is one which remains in his mind throughout his creative process. “Subconsciously I do always have a visual idea, especially when I’m writing melody and harmonies. There’s something powerful about that combination… I love, once I’ve finished the piece, to look at the visuals and see the way they change the vibe.” By elevating everyday situations into the realm of short films, Cadillac is proposing new ways to approach film-making; by achieving an atmospheric balance between visual, audio and narrative, the brand has once again cemented its ongoing relevance and actively promoted a selection of talented young innovators in the process.