The pandemic left DJ/producer Elephante feeling underwater – in the case of his ‘High Water’ video, literally – and he tells HL how he shot these breathtaking visuals.
The video for “High Water,” the new track from Elephante (aka Tim Wu), is as visually captivating as the new alt-electronic dance track is mesmerizing. The song alone is a brilliant snapshot of the emotions of the past year – dreamy vocals and ethereal electronic beats mimic that disconnect we all felt, and a burst of guitar cuts through like hope burning away despair – but the video? A stunning collection of scenes that stitch together an experience that feels both timely and universal.
“Like a lot of people, I went through some hard emotional struggles in the pandemic, and the music video is really reflective of that,” Tim shares with HollywoodLife. “Depression can feel like being underwater – you have this incredible weight on you, but you still try to pretend like everything is okay. You want to cry out for help, but you don’t want to bother the people around you – ‘is it too late to call’… I don’t mean to bore you, but I’m twisted on this hotel floor.’”
“The pandemic really made me think about what’s important to me creatively – it made me incredibly grateful for my opportunity to create, so if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it all the way,” he adds. “I’ll always be a music guy first, but I’m more ambitious than ever to create visual stories that flesh out the narratives I’m trying to tell in my music.”
Though “High Water” is tuned to the pandemic, the song’s lyrics – “I’m callin’ out your name / I’m hearing your sirens, stuck in the silence / I’m callin’ out your name / I need just a taste, I’m begging you babe” – make this song applicable to anyone who finds themselves at rock bottom – or in this case, underwater – during a dark moment in their life.
Speaking of which, how did “High Water’s most stunning scenes come to be? “Filming the underwater scenes was a ton of fun, but also incredibly challenging,” Tim tells HollwoodLife. “No special effects – I’m actually underwater doing it. I wanted to convey a sense of ‘normalcy’ underwater, so that meant no nose plugs, no goggles, no cheats – water was just flooding my sinuses and eyeballs the entire time. I had to basically Jedi mind trick myself that I wasn’t drowning, so we’d get the take, and then I’d rush up the surface and gasp for air, and do it again, rinse and repeat for 12 hours. By the end, I was a wreck – dizzy, almost blind, shivering violently, and was sick for about 3 days after.”
“We shot the first two scenes, the underwater one, and the phone booth, and loved the footage but felt like something was missing,” he says. “We needed something to represent the “High Water” mark that I was trying to get back to when I was underwater. So we decided to shoot the complete opposite – me floating in the air in the desert. I loved the contrast to the underwater and rain scenes, and it really tied everything together.”
“High Water” marks Tim’s return to his dance roots, shifting his sound more towards an alternative/electronic space. The project first made a splash with 2016’s indie EP I Am The Elephante and Glass Mansion, which arrived two years later. Now, Elephante is in the midst of preparing the project’s first full-length studio album, guaranteed to be a breath of fresh air to those who have been holding their breath underwater – metaphorically – for the past year or so.