If you want to catch the attention of the judges ahead of the Mercury Music Prize, do it with exceptional style and a killer visual that reminds everyone exactly why you’re a leading contender. And Jorja Smith’s collaboration with Rashid Babiker is exactly that – a knock-out visual feast.
Jorja Smith has been the centre of our attention for more than a minute and her new single ‘On Your Own’ is unquestionably a stand-out album cut, but when you get a video that gives you more than everything you may have pictured in your mind, it’s a certain kind of personal delight.
Encapsulating the essence of Jorja Smith as more than just a cover-star, even though magazine after magazine has clamoured to shoot the star, it’s a reminder that there’s more to her than meets the eye. Just try to unpack how much attention-to-detail was involved in the creative vision behind ‘On Your Own’, and you’ll understand why great collaborators can take an artist’s song to the upper echelons of their creative vision.
The man behind the album cover of Jorja’s debut ‘Lost & Found’, (if you don’t know him yet please do me a favour and go look up Rashid Babiker) reveals a story page by page. All laid out in a book that places analogue photography, design typography, collage and motion graphics, alongside Jorja performing her song on every page, you’ll be more than a little inspired.
Speaking about the thought-process behind the visual, Rashid Babiker explains how it all came together: “Before Jorja even asked me to come up with a concept for “On Your Own”, as a thought experiment I was imagining books, the hardback clothbound ones, being retrofitted into interactive photobooks, or video books sometime in the future when print is in the terminal stages of obsolescence.
I imagined them to be like those 1940’s gramophones that bare the Dolby digital insignia and have Bluetooth connectivity but aren’t gramophones; the ones that visitors mistake for vinyl players, the same visitors that mistake you for being cold hearted enough to correct them.
To stage it in a way fitting for the song I channelled imagined-nostalgia from the perspective of a girl, a fan of Jorja, who’s living in an intentionally anachronistic world where these videobooks exist and cassettes are the new, old vinyl of today. Even with the nondescript time period, from the year markings in the book you can determine the book is from Jorja’s “lost & found” period and the world is set a bit further into the future.
The whole thing works as a music video by having a great song firstly, Jorja always makes it easy in that respect, interesting content on the pages (just like a good book), thematic parallels to the lyrics, and choreographed page turns that act as cuts. But then it’s a real jigsaw puzzle piecing everything together!”
While there’s no question we’ll be watching excitedly for the results of the Mercury Music Prize later this evening, watch this winning combination and know whatever the result, Jorja Smith will be winning out again and again.