Global editor of VICE Magazine & director Andy Capper has just made his first leap into feature film – the hotly anticipated Snoop Lion Reincarnated documentary is set for release this coming spring. After numerous visits to Jamaica on the project, he also linked with Dre Skull to film the latest Mixpak videos: Beenie Man, Popcaan and Tifa on the Kling Klang Riddim. Read on to find out how the videos were made, how many people Popcaan rolls with and how to bribe Dre Skull.
So the most recent music video I’m aware that you’ve done was ASAP Rocky ‘Wassup’, what other music videos have you made?
Vybz Kartel, the ‘My Crew’ video, Black Lips, ‘Go Out and Get It’, Black Lips ‘Bad Kids’, that’s the best one. Those are more like fun things I did while I was making documentaries for VICE, like ‘The Vice Guide to Liberia’ and ‘Krokodil Tears’. The videos were really like a side project, but after Reincarnated I just got more offers. So I’m doing more of them, but documentary and film is still the main focus.
So it’s coming off the back of Reincarnated, even though it’s not out yet?
Yeah. And I think people flipped out about [the ASAP Rocky] video. Videos work the best when the artist has a clear vision of what they want, that was the thing that made that one great. Then I bring to the table what I can bring and create their vision how I think it’ll look best. Rocky was like ‘yo I wanna make a thing based on my favourite movies – Scarface, X Men and Belly’, he decided the bits he wanted and then I made them look like how I thought they should look. We almost got it perfect.
Did he think you’d got it perfect?
No [laughs]. It felt like more of a collage. But it’s good, I love it. Certain scenes out of it are my favourite things, like the bathtub I love that, the outdoor shots, they’re great.
So for the Kling Kling videos, you moved into dancehall – what’s your personal relationship with it?
I like it, but I’m not an afficionado. I like Popcaan and Kartel, I listen to them a lot. Kingston Story is one of my favourite records of the last ten years. As a kid, I quite liked all the famous ones, like Shabba, and I quite liked Sean Paul, a bit. I’m a really big Wayne Wonder fan, Mavado’s kinda cool but I was never really into it at the time. And the whole Kartel thing with the tattoos and the skin bleaching, I just thought this guy’s got one of the strongest, heaviest looks in the history of music. And it went so well with that record. I’m more interested in dancehall than I’ve ever been.
What were you most psyched about for the videos?
I always wanted to shoot something with Popcaan. I met Popcaan through the Reincarnated shoot and then we came out to shoot this thing called Made in Jamaica, a 10-part series about modern dancehall, we got to chase Popcaan round a bit for that. I just think he’s just such a great performer, he’s got real star quality. I love his attitude, he’s like a little scallywag. So I tried to meet and work with him again. Getting to work with Beenie Man was unreal cos he’s just such a legend, you know. It was great to work with him.
On set for Popcaan’s ‘So We Do It’
How did the concepts come about for the three?
I heard the Beenie Man track and immediately just thought of that concept – him walking down the beach with loads of girls, wearing a cape. I knew where I wanted to shoot it cos we’d shot at Hellshire Beach before, and we knew some girls from around there, from Portmore, and I knew they had these crazy boats and we could use all kinds of things round there. With Popcaan we asked him what he wanted and he said motorbikes, so then his manager set up these 15 dudes on these high powered noisy motorbikes, they were like the noisiest thing ever and I’m terrified of motorbikes. They were constantly on all day and it was stressful, they’re hard to control. Tifa wanted the boxing thing, so we sorted the boxing gym, and the idea was an all female boxing gym. Tifa and Popcaan had some ideas but Beenie Man was just like ‘I don’t need any ideas’ and so we just plonked him in the middle of a scenario. And he seemed to be fine with it [laughs].
Did you watch any particular dancehall or other videos before you went?
I’ve seen some dancehall videos before, I like some of them. I really like the ‘Go Go Wine’ video obviously, but you don’t want to watch too many, you just want them to look how you want them to look. I kind of wanted them to be like dancehall videos you’d never seen before. And while there’s elements of dancehall videos, with the dancing, I still feel like they look slightly different.
Beenie on set for ‘Super Model’
And how much does the concept that you come up with turn out like you wanted it to, in the end?
Pretty much on the dot. And I got Dre Skull to feature in the Popcaan video.
Yeah, how did you get him to do that?
I had to pay him fifty bucks to do it. He was like ‘no way jose’, I said ‘I’ve got 50 bucks’ and he was like ‘OK’.
Dre Skull on set for ‘So We Do It’
So while you were shooting the Beenie video on Hellshire beach were there loads of people about watching?
It wasn’t too bad. I wanted that, I wanted the reactions of the people on the beach when they saw Beenie Man, so we filmed some of that. That was part of the reason why we did it there cos we wanted to get local people’s reactions.
And how many people were in your crew for the shoot?
Me and the DOP on Reincarnated, then we had Popcaan’s manager, it was quite a small crew. But bigger than what I’m used to, about 15 people. And then we had all the girls, so about 60 people in total. It was hard on set.
Dre told me you had binders full of women for the Beenie video
Not true. But ok then yeah, whatever you wanna say [laughs]
How did you go about shooting each video in one day flat?
We got up early in the morning. We expected people to be late each day, so we gave people crazy call times and everybody turned up at their call times, it was weird. Beenie Man was there at 9am ready to go. We were expecting him to turn up at 1pm.
Did you come up against anything particularly difficult on the shoots?
Just directing the motorbike squad. The bikes were loud and powerful, communicating with 20 guys who are driving round the track at the same time was hard.
So were you on the back of a bike to take those shots of Popcaan on a bike?
Fuck no, I was in a van. I wouldn’t get on a motorbike. He said he didn’t like them that much either but he just hopped on. He looked really cool riding on the back of the bike I think.
As a VICE director, how much do you think that influences how you shoot? Do people expect certain things from you?
I think they expect as much action as possible, and as many interesting things as possible. People have their own ideas of what VICE is, so I leave that up to them. I guess we have motorbikes and girls and funny stuff, action, partying, that’s all in there.
So the Noisey x Jamaica series is being let loose soon, can you tell us about it?
Yeah, we wanted to make a TV show about the current [dancehall] scene, so the Kartel story’s in there, the Popcaan story, we got Tifa, then we have all the people like I-Octane and Konshens. It’s a behind-the-scenes really, it’s more of a classic documentary style from the ’70s or ’80s, about how modern dancehall in Jamaica works and all the gossip behind it. It’s a 10-part series, it’s really to educate people about what’s going on there now, also with a little bit of drama and obviously music performance. It’s really a music documentary but there’s social things behind it, we’re mixing it up with politics too. While we were doing Reincarnated, Dre Skull really turned us on to this stuff, I wasn’t really paying attention to it, but he’d turned me on to it. After hearing Kingston Story and Popcaan, that really got me interested in it. It’s really all down to Dre Skull.
Will it be on a similar vibe to Vice Kills Jamaica?
No, it’s totally different, it’s more concentrated on the people.
And you have Jamaican video producers involved as well?
Yeah. We also wanted to go and visit Kartel in jail but we couldn’t yet, but we’ll see…
Did you guys end up going out with Popcaan and his crew?
Yep, not as much as Dre Skull. I’ve been out to clubs with him, but not like crawl around town with him like they did with Dre.
Yeah they go out in crews of like 50 people?
150. With little Popcaan at the head of it all. I love that kid.
What’s the best thing that happened while you were shooting?
It was just constant highlights, it’s hard to say. Getting it all done was a tall order. One of my favourite moments was picking a rose petal out of Beenie Man’s fedora. I just remember thinking I just picked a rose petal out of Beenie Man’s fedora and I never thought I’d be doing that.
What other music videos do you have planned for this coming year?
I’m doing these two Snoop videos this week in Jamaica, ‘Lighters Up’ and ‘Here Comes The King’, Popcaan and Mavado will be in one together. Potential drama on the horizon.