Watch KCPK’s disturbing depiction of gang life in Russia

The French trio are back with their video for ‘Who Wants It’, directed by Nicolas Davenel

The dark underbelly of a city has always seduced and repelled people simultaneously, and this engrossing and cinematic video for KCPK’s new track “Who Wants It” captures this dichotomy perfectly. Directed by Nicolas Davenel and produced by Iconoclast, the video follows different generations within Russian gang life, from the reckless and carefree existence of the children, to the luxurious lifestyles of the older, more powerful figures at the top of the totem pole.

The track itself is as chaotic and adrenaline-filled as the characters depicted in the video, with Philly rapper STS spitting bars over a brutal, clattering beat, his lyrics bursting with machismo, “Got to be that talk of the town, got to grab that crown off the top, oh who they say make it down, got to knock that boy out the spot.” It’s an idea that permeates the visual throughout, culminating in the final scene – a flurry of sex, money and violence. We spoke to Davenel, the director, to find out more.

Tell me a bit about the concept of the video. How would you describe what happens?

Nicolas Davenel: The video is an exploration of power and ambition through four generations, from the kids, to the top of the pyramid in a mobster world. We don’t know what is inside the package they are swapping, but it’s not really important. The handover of this package shows the possibility each character has to get into a superior circle and prove their worth, until they can dethrone the chief. A new circle implies a new stage of violence and sex, a squabble of kids who are left to their own devices. Finally, we face the death of a man, a passing childhood romance, and an illicit affair.

How did you come up with the idea?

Nicolas Davenel: I did not specifically set out to make a gangster music video. I was interested in showing the capacity that men have to embrace their dark sides in order to prosper and become ‘someone’. Rap videos are good mediums to propose strong storytelling, and you tend not to include the performers, which allows us to dive the spectator more intensely in the atmosphere of the track. With a firm stance in the aesthetics, I wanted to bring the film far away from the standard rap music video environment, which led me to chose Russia for shooting.

Why did you choose to work with KCPK?

Nicolas Davenel: I loved the vibe of the track – it has a powerful and punchy rhythm. Also, they allowed me to express myself freely, to do what I wanted. As a director, it is the best you can expect concerning music videos and their performers. They are new artists, and I feel like they are worth following. The combination between their electro vibe and the flow of STS works perfectly.

How did you cast the people in the video? 

Nicolas Davenel: The cast is a mixture of regular actors and some street casting. The trickiest was the kids, but we were lucky to find some that were amazingly good. They were definitely the most professional actors out of the whole cast – really precise and sensitive.

I like to work with street cast people because they have that freshness on screen that actors sometimes have lost. For example, the main teenager, he had never acted before and came to the audition wearing the same clothes he’s wearing in the video. He was perfect, so we kept him as is.

Were there any surprising issues you were faced with whilst filming?

Nicolas Davenel: I guess the most surprising and quite sad issue was during casting, we were looking for a really old man to play a godfather but it was nearly impossible for the production to find an actor older than 60 years old as the life expectancy in Russia is much lower than in France due mostly to alcoholism and poorer life conditions.

What do you find most inspiring about Russia?

Nicolas Davenel: When you stroll through Moscow, it’s striking to see the amount of luxury cars and houses. You get the impression there is no middle class ­– people either live in the concrete blocks surrounding the city centre, or in the luxurious flats and huge houses in the countryside.

To this extent, Russia looks like the USA, where the car you drive is important to define who you are on the social scale. For me, those two countries are really close, with a strong patriotism and an intensified capitalism. In Moscow, we have the same feeling of loneliness as in Los Angeles, as we roll through the never ending suburbs, punctuated by filling stations and fast-foods restaurants.

We made this music video in Russia, but this film might have been shot in other countries; China, USA or even South America. However, it has a specific resonance in an ultra-capitalist country that’s still drowning in the symbol of communism.

Nicolas Davenel is represented for music videos and commercials by Iconoclast London, Paris and Berlin