The world's most in-demand music video master discusses his moving depictions of beautiful young weirdos and dystopian landscapes
Pop songbird Florence Welch: “Vincent has this amazing ability to get the best out of you without imposing himself. His naturalistic approach to directing brings out the best in me. He’s able to find magic in the mundane and create a storm from stillness.”
LA-based Vincent Haycock might make videos for one of world’s biggest electro producers, but he insists he is “very much not that guy.” When he meets Dazed at his sun-dappled Lake Hollywood home, he is calm and unassuming, with sleeve-tattooed arms and a Supreme beanie. Previously a graphic designer who created title sequences for big budget TV shows, Haycock is now one of the world’s most in-demand directors, creating pop clips for Florence Welch, Spiritualized and Miike Snow. But it is his creative partnership with Calvin Harris that he is most celebrated for. Ironic, then, that he confesses that Harris’s fist-pumping oeuvre is “not really music I saw myself doing a lot of videos for – I’m not used to going to some club in Ibiza where there are 20,000 people off their faces on ecstasy.”
Haycock’s videos for Harris are, in his own words, “counterintuitive” to the HD electrogloss they accompany. More like short films than promos, they depict beautiful young weirdos gliding through dystopian urban landscapes. But his taste for the subversive doesn’t always go down well: the video for “Bounce” almost didn’t happen after Kelis (a born-again Christian) refused to perform alongside a down-on-his luck devil in Las Vegas, as per the original treatment. But no matter – Haycock shot a “demonic” reworked version of the idea for Harris’s “Drinking from the Bottle”, with Brad Dourif as the devil and Tinie Tempah “surrounded by 40 twerkers”.
A slew of stars feature on Harris’s megahits, but all remain subject to Haycock’s tightly controlled creative vision. Florence Welch, presented as a battered woman/drag chanteuse in Harris’s “Sweet Nothing” video, was no exception. “Her directors wanted to look at a bunch of treatments but we were like, ‘No, we’re doing this the Calvin way.’” Luckily, the Calvin way worked out, and Haycock went on to direct the clip for Welch’s own “Lover to Lover”.
With plans for his own creative collective plus a major photographic retrospective, can Haycock pinpoint the moment he decided that this crazy life was for him? “I remember as a kid seeing Nan Goldin photos,” he says. “I was like, ‘This person makes their entire living by finding weird people and spending time with them and photographing them.’ I guess that process just turned me on.”
Photography Alex Husley