New Talent: Lucrecia Taormina
For someone who directed her first music video just over a year ago, Lucrecia Taormina is well on her way to making a name for herself (even if you can’t pronounce it, she jokes). She recently had one hell of a week. Her second promo for in-your-face pop rapper Ashnikko dropped on Wednesday, and on Thursday she found herself onstage at the UK Music Video Awards accepting the Best Pop Newcomer award for her first Ashnikko video, making her the only solo female director to take home an accolade that night. Both videos expertly deploy Tarantino-esque violence, putting the blue-haired artist’s attitude to good use and, deservingly, both set parts of the internet on fire when they came out.
Keen to find out what’s behind the magic of Lucrecia’s small-but-growing showreel, LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with her.
LBB> Congratulations on the UKMVA win! Yours was one of the most emotional acceptance speeches on the night. What was going through your head?
Lucrecia> Ah thank you! It was a great moment.
I thought about my journey with perseverance. I wasn’t handed anything easily and had to work really hard to prove I could do it. So I guess those were tears of perseverance, joy and gratitude for every single person (my boyfriend, family, friends, artists, producers, DOPs) that believed in me. It was a very unique moment for me and I wanted to give it all the feels it deserved.
LBB> You grew up in Buenos Aires, right? What were you like when you were young?
Lucrecia> Si! Until I was 24. Buenos Aires is in my blood.
I was a very chilled and shy kid. LOL! No. I’m the younger sibling, which kind of sums everything up: rebel, got all the attention and was very opinionated. My parents’ nightmare. But I always loved making my family laugh and being a bit of a character. They loved it. Not so much the rebel part and being asked to leave my school but oh well, the good with the bad, eh?
LBB> And do you think your upbringing has had any impact on what your photography and filmmaking looks like? How?
Lucrecia> 100%. I’m passionate, loud and I love a good hip movement to the beat.That’s Argentinian all over. Also, I grew up with the beautiful Buenos Aires’ light, everything is always colourful and vibrant, which I think you can see that in my work.
LBB> What was your entry point into photography?
Lucrecia> By accident actually!
I was meant to study a diploma in creative media production in London and two weeks before my course started I got an email from my uni saying the course was cancelled due to low student numbers. But on that same email they asked me if I wanted to transfer to a similar course or cancel the whole thing. I had quit my job, my flights were booked, I was mentally prepared to make it in London so backing down wasn’t an option. That course was photography so there you go. Crazy how life works. I’m forever grateful that the other course never happened.
LBB> And when did you first realise you could make a career of it?
Lucrecia> I guess when artists kept coming back with briefs and every time they had a bit more budget.
LBB> What was moving to London like for you?
Lucrecia> The best decision of my life.
It was super overwhelming at first. I was very very used to having my safety net of friends and family and suddenly all of that was all gone. I was on my own. I had to create the life I wanted. Be the person I wanted. Have the relationships that I wanted. Have the work I wanted. I was accountable for everything. No one else.
I’m a true believer that you create your own luck, and I certainly worked hard at being ‘lucky’ in all aspects of my life. So thanks London, you taught me well and keep doing so!
LBB> How did you make your transition into moving image? Was it something intentional or more of an accident?
Lucrecia> Super by accident. I have to name my wonderful friend Kim Jarrett who at that time was a director’s rep at OB Management.
I got a text from her on a normal Monday morning saying “Hey, have you ever thought about directing?” and here I am. Really grateful to Kim who saw the director in me when I didn’t.
LBB> What was the most formative moment in your creative development so far?
Lucrecia> Failing in a music video. I saw the rushes and cried. It was very hard. And then I had to do 31 edit versions, fully knowing I was never showing that to anyone. It was a professional low that taught me a lot. And after that video I did Ashnikko - Hi, It’s Me, so I’m glad I failed.
LBB> What was your first music video? Can you describe what you remember from that experience?
Lucrecia> It was for the talented Cuckoolander. Nicola Shepherd was the commissioner, Kim Jarrett was the rep and Luke Tierney the EP.
I remember the chaos of being on set on a music video. I wasn’t prepared at all to walk into that madness. Loved it though.
Also, I remember Kim calling me after we shared the first cut at the label and saying they had no notes! It was a great feeling.
LBB> How does your photographic background affect the way you make films? Are you conscious of that at all?
Lucrecia> Very conscious. All my visuals come from my photography background and photographers I admire like Dave LaChapelle, Helmut Newton, Andreas Gursky, Cindy Sherman to name a few.
LBB> Even looking at your four music videos, there are definitely trends already. I'd love to know what you think about these observations:
1. All the artists you've worked with are women and men only feature as victims (in the Stupid video). Do you particularly love working with women?
Lucrecia> LOL I love my boyfriend so not killing him anytime soon! I do love working with females mainly because my styling ideas always are more inclined towards them. And I do have a tendency towards killing in my videos - in Stupid I killed boys and in Ashnikko I killed her! What can I say? It’s fun when you’re not doing what’s expected in pop.
LBB> 2. All of your videos rely on a lot of choreography.
Lucrecia> I love dancing, since I can remember. I would always dance in family events and sometimes do a little show for them - lame!
But yes, I grew up trying to replicate Britney’s epic choreos in Oops! I Did It Again or Toxic, as well as ALL of Shakira’s vids, because she’s a G. So I guess when I started doing videos I was doing it for girls that were like me when I was growing up. I wanted them to see my videos and replicate the dancing and have fun.
LBB> 3. The styling is brilliantly over-the-top.
Lucrecia> Thank you! If you ever come across one of my treatments, the word OTT on the styling slide is always there. I’m very drawn to big, loud styling, something you don’t see every day and is a pure visual feast.
LBB> 4. Silliness is a big factor and it's amazing.
Lucrecia> Yes! One of my big things is to entertain in music videos. Pop is fun, is silly, is sick. It’s my biggest memories growing up.
I love having weird silly narratives and making people laugh and dance.
LBB> I'd love to hear a bit about your video for Ashnikko - Stupid. It's bonkers! What was your vision for that video and how did that translate into the final film?
Lucrecia> It was madness! I sent Ash (Ashnikko) a photography treatment without any brief on the table. We had a call with the label and management to do the photoshoot. And one hour later Luke, my EP, called me saying ‘Stupid’ went crazy viral on TikTok in the US/Canada and they wanted me to direct the video and think of an idea to shoot, less than six days before she was going touring in North America with Danny Brown.
I couldn’t say no, the track was too good, and she’s pure genuine talent, so I listened to the track a few times and thought what’s the least cliche way of showing you don’t need a guy in a music video? Fucking kill that dude!
My vision was almost exactly what we shot. I’m very specific and detailed with what happens, down to the exact millisecond, so except the police car at the end which wasn’t planned, everything was pre-planned.
LBB> What's it like working with Ashnikko? She definitely seems like an artist who's really into her videos and enjoys getting involved in the process.
Lucrecia> Insanely talented and the most professional, committed artist I’ve met. She works the longest hours, does a million things a day but always always brings her A-game. True artist.
Since our first meet up to chat about the ‘Hi, It’s Me’ video, we just clicked: liked the same things, shared our love for anime. And I think giving her a super passionate 45-minute breakdown of the video helped me to gain her trust! She’s sick.
LBB> What are your big ambitions at the moment?
Lucrecia> For people to recognise my work and say “It’s that Argentinean director with that name I can’t pronounce.”