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Being Crazy about Brands

French director Helmi (Division Paris [1]) directed the 2014 music video «Champs-Élysées» by Bonnie Banane [2] and Walter Mecca [3] (Waltaa). For Norient Helmi reflects on the making-off, nostalgia, the aesthetics of the 1990s – and the money. From the Norient book Seismographic Sounds (see and order here [4]).

Film still from Bonnie Banane & Waltaa (Music), Helmi (Video): «Champs-Élysées» (France 2014)

I wouldn’t say that I’m a nostalgic person. On the contrary, I’m always looking for something new. At the same time, nostalgia is a universal language – a cool way to communicate. Through nostalgia you can share a certain feeling with other people who experienced the same thing. One night I had a psychedelic dream about Lacoste jogging suits and other brands of the 1990s. I woke up and immediately called my friend Bonnie to ask her if we could do a music video together that follows this vision. She agreed and started working on a new track. Since Bonnie is independent and doesn’t have a company behind her, we didn’t have much money. For the whole production, which was a collaboration between her and my film company, we needed about seven thousand Euros.

With «Champs-Élysées» I wanted people to remember the fashion, the tattoos and all of the other signs of their youth from the 1990s. It might look like a video from back then, but it is completely 21st century. It has never been my goal just to reproduce some cool visual effects in retro style. Actually, the effects I used on the video are mostly new and on each scene I used a different animation technique. Although it was not really intended to create a «critique of consumerism» – as some bloggers wrote – I think «Champs-Élysées» could indeed be seen this way. In the 1990s we grew up with a lot of brands around us like Nike, Lacoste or Sergio Tachini and we loved and still love to wear them. But at the same time we are somehow fucked up by this trend. The brands have succeeded in entering more and more into our culture. In fact, they have become our culture. The different sneaker models of Nike are probably better known today than the oeuvre of Albert Camus. I think this is neither bad nor good: it’s just our generation. We are crazy about brands.

As I was born in Paris, for me the Champs-Élysées is more than just a glamorous avenue. It’s the temple of luxury and a full gallery of crazy people. The reasons to go there could not be more diverse: just to show off, to go clubbing or to visit the Arc du Triomphe. This diversity is what you see in «Champs-Élysées.»

This text was recorded by Hannes Liechti via Skype, 20.4.2015, and published first in the second Norient book Seismographic Sounds [5].