In February 2018, rapper Rouge dropped a dance video for Arumtumtum, choreographed by Rudi Smit, created by FORMS Dance Music and Film. By April, it had been nominated for Best Music Video at the SAMAs, taking it home in June. In the video, Rouge is the leader of a rebellion, currently under attack. The dancers are part of her crew, who, between popping, locking and dropping have been preparing for the ultimate battle; one that we almost expect to see, but an unexpected twist in the story leaves you wanting more from this narrative, and that’s what makes it perfect. Visual delicacies such as this don’t just happen, though. It takes a team of people to write up the narrative, choreograph the dances, create the space, do the stunts, and put the scene together.
After Dark’s Leah Jasmine caught up with the person responsible for this innovative storyline, Tarryn Naude, about their involvement in the making of this video:
AD: It almost feels like the song was written for the video, but it must have been the other way around. How did you start conceptualising ideas for this video?
Director Alex Fynn, one of the three creative forces in Red Bull’s first FORMS collab (the other two being Rouge and Rudi Smit) slipped into my Whatsapp with a casual, “give this track a listen and tell me what you think.”
I ran a bubble bath (disclaimer, I was not in Cape Town) not sure what I was about to listen to, and hit play. The song exploded with this high energy, high school sports day-esque war cry and the imagery of a futuristic rebellion was near immediate.
I should probably add that around that time I was still processing/recovering from 2 years and a few months of being part of FeesMustFall and so those multiple narratives that unfolded on a personal and public political level was something still very fresh on my mind.
AD: What is the rebellion Rogue is leading, and against whom are they rebelling?
It isn’t a specific rebellion with a defined enemy. The struggle of our generation is that it’s significantly more complex than previous struggles where there was codified laws to defy. We are faced with social dynamics, historical contexts, identity politics, overlapping generation but all within the framing of a liberal constitution and so, who knows what they’re rebelling against? It can be any person/power that restricts freedom of expression and forces individuals into isolatory spaces.
AD: Did you worry about the feasibility of your ideas or were you given free reign to think big?
The whole experience of this FORMS platform that Red Bull had created had me shook in the sense that it completely allowed for every creative force a part of this piece flourished completely without being restricted by any other and so it felt completely free and organic.
Chatting to Rouge on set the day we filmed, she chatted about her inspiration behind the track and it tied up exactly with my vision for the video. Perhaps it was just the perfect blend of creatives in the right space on the right project for that time.
AD: Arumtumtum is a call to action, a war cry. How did this influence the millitary-style of the video’s narrative?
I listened to Rouge’s other tracks and gave her instagram a thorough stalking and decided that this war cry of hers is not for a gentle game of touch rugby but an explosive radical creative movement. Rudi’s dance style added to that and you have a rebel group that is not here to fuck around.
AD: The song swings from laying low to high alert in the transition from verse to chorus, with sirens ringing through the urgency of the narrative. How did that affect the way you wanted to tell this story?
This goes back to my experience in Rhodes and FeesMustFall, no movement, no rebellion is linear, it’s static and undefinable, and so if the song wasn’t organised like it is, I would’ve actually struggled to write it about a rebellion.
AD: Rogue herself only appears in the beginning, through the transmission of her manifesto, and towards the end of the video, just in time for the raid. How was she, as the artist, placed strategically in the narrative?
FORMS as a platform was a collaboration between three creatives and therefore, the piece was a conversation and a merging of multiple creative actors, not just Rouge.
For me personally, I wanted to portray that the movement was not hierarchical. Rouge may have made the call to action but did not dictate the means of rebellion. She gave her comrades the space to develop their statement and she joined them on the frontlines when they were ready.
AD: The viewer almost expects a confrontation between the two sides of this battle, but what happens instead is a statement: We Are One. For those who might not fully understand, what is meant by this?
Their statement and rebellion had no intention of causing conflict or violence but rather just protesting to the point where the oppressive power watching over them would have a moment to acknowledge that their freedom does not mean discord or chaos.
AD: Was this written as the first part of a longer storyline? If so, can we expect more?
The statement was made and doesn’t need a follow up BUT you can expect more from Red Bull’s FORMS. There are many other creative explosions in the works that is part of a larger rebellion anyway, I think.