Q&A: NW Artist Madelin and Jose Dao On Their Captivating “Broken Star” Music Video

Q&A: NW Artist Madelin and Jose Dao On Their Captivating “Broken Star” Music Video

By Maddie Burke for Newlywed Records

Pop artist Madelin is not afraid to be experimental. A true 21st century artist - her videos and multimedia projects are just as spellbinding and memorable as her music. Her latest video, which supports the single “Broken Star” off her recent EP Then Her Head Fell Off, is a perfect example. Already a complex track to digest, the video creates even more dynamism - through stunning visuals in a perplexing, perhaps alternate universe, video director Jose Dao created a whole new way to experience the haunting track. We talked with Madelin and Jose to learn a little more about their partnership and artistic vision for the project.

NW: Jose, could you tell me about your artistic background? 

JD: I'm a Venezuelan multi disciplinary artist, initially. I left my hometown in 2012 to study in the US with hopes of going back home bringing all the knowledge I would acquire during my adventure. With that in mind, I headed to NYC. Sadly, the situation in my country had gotten worse throughout the years and the idea of coming back became a platonic idealization. After 4 years of being in NY, I’d done a few acting gigs and was holding a waiter/bartender job when other artistic interests started to kick in. An incessant need to create artistic images gave me the push I needed to extract my day-job-frustrated artistry. A good friend had just landed in NYC and I decided to start creating videos with a 24 hour deadline. We were so excited we wouldn't go to bed until the video was all edited and ready to go and that's how my interest for the video medium started. 

Madelin, how did you settle on making a video for Broken Star as opposed to other tracks from the EP?

M: I wanted it to be that song in particular. It was one of a handful of songs I wrote when I was with my old management - I thought it was my breakthrough song, it represented my voice and style but they didn’t like it and shut it down. Now that I am able to release it, I really wanted to give it all the life it didn’t get to have originally. I’m glad I was able to make that choice, and validate that it’s good and deserves an amazing video.

How did you decide to collaborate on this project?

M: I had worked with Jose before in photoshoots and he directed the video for the High School Boys. He is one of the most creative people I have ever met in my entire life. He is so easy to work with - there’s not a pretentious bone in his body. He’s really open and easy to be creative with.

JD: I don’t consider myself a director, however Mad is very good at making me feel empowered and free to explore unknown territories and, most importantly, I respect and admire her and her music. It is always so amazing working together because we trust one another with our ideas. We both are open to experiment without judgment and I feel like that's so important to allow this in the young stages of the creative process.

What was the process of conceptualizing this video? Where did you find inspiration?

JD: Mad and I started listening to the song on repeat and throwing a million ideas into the air. We talked about mental health and how it is important to feel free and supported when you talk about it instead of having to take yourself to the darkest corners of your brain. We all have our moments in life when we need to recover from a life changing event. For us, that looked like a beautiful, lonely and post apocalyptic dream full of confusion. We used words instead of visuals for our inspiration board with a color palette and lots of love. 

How did the treatment for the video correspond to the concepts you were hoping to portray? Did you use certain techniques or make particular design decisions to connect to the overarching themes in a significant way?

M: We wanted the video to be able to be interpreted in a lot of different ways, but if I had to say, it’s about your brain and your body playing tricks on you.

JD: The idea is that Mad is in this weird place that she needs to get out of, but it seems like there’s something she has to figure out first. The “X-Heads” represent her mood and show her true self. There’s certain naivety and camp to the video, related to what it is like to be a child and the remembrance of the past. All of these elements, the masks, the riddle, the “childhood style” vision were the overarching themes we aimed to reflect and intertwine throughout the video.

Did the project evolve over the course of shooting? Is the final product an accurate representation of your vision?

M: I think overall we did what we set out to do - we had a specific treatment, shot list, and a small organized crew. 

JD: I know what I had in mind when I came into the shoot but as soon as I jumped into the collaborative space I had to let go of some of the preconceived ideas. The beach was freaking cold, winds were intense but we had the tiniest, most beautiful team ever and we made it work with enjoyment and professionalism. The DP/Editor Matt Speno was a great team player, he elevated the whole project to another level, plus Damani Pompey who choreographed, the performers, Nicole Abdelnour who created the “X head” visuals, it was just a perfect match. 

Madelin, what does the future hold for you, and better yet, you and Jose as collaborators?

M: I'm looking forward to releasing more music and visual content. I have so many songs that are waiting to be shared. Jose and I are on opposite sides of the country now but I know we'll find a way to keep making art together.