Timo Pierre Rositzki, the Director of the music video for Nicky Romero’s ‘Toulouse’ recently got in touch with The Sherp after reading our feature on the Guy Fawkes mask. He said he could tell us the story behind the use of the mask in the video. And we’re delighted to share it with you!
As told to The Sherp by Timo Pierre Rositzki:
Since I am and always have been constantly trying to improve my ways of proactively getting into the business, in early 2012 I had the plan to not acquire a job of making a music video, but to just do it in advance and then offer it to the artist, when it‘s already done.
I checked out the latest tracks at that time. ‘Toulouse’ inspired me and I had this idea of starting a freaky, yet powerful “underground dance revolution” with those infamous & polarizing Guy Fawkes masks, which were all over the media at that time.
I loved the idea of using this politically controversial mask and make something weird & funny with it. Just somehow turn the image of it upside down. People know that mask and they have a certain association to it. So when you suddenly see it in a whole different context, it’s interesting. It’s just something you wouldn’t expect. And having this image in my head of a whole bunch of people wearing that mask, excessively dancing, “recruiting” others to do as well as soon as they have that mask on and in the end become a collective movement – I thought that was powerful!
So I called in all my friends, we made this music video without any official permission to shoot, without any money. I had a DoP, everything else is done by me. I wrote, produced, directed and edited it. Plus I even danced in it (I’m the masked guy in the golden/green hoodie jacket).
Then I offered it to Nicky Romero. He responded and thanked me for the effort, but unfortunately declined. Which I can somehow understand, because in terms of production value it’s really not the greatest piece of art ever done. Nevertheless I always believed in the concept of the music video and that rough look is something which I aimed for anyway, because it supports the concept.
That‘s why I asked him, if it’s okay to upload it as an unofficial video, so I could still use it in my portfolio. He agreed. I uploaded it on Vimeo. The rest is the power of the web.
Soon, somebody downloaded the video from Vimeo and uploaded it on YouTube. I found out about it, when it already had around 1 million views. From then on the amount of views constantly increased. It had about 20 million by January 2013 and about 50 million by May 2013, one year after it had been uploaded on YouTube. Now it’s at 85 million. I thought, the views would lessen after a while, but they don’t. It’s like a sleeper hit. I remember when ‘Toulouse’ had about 15 million views and Avicii’s ‘Levels’ had 60 million. Now we outdistanced ‘Levels’ by a few million.
So after a while, fans started wearing the mask at Nicky Romero’s shows. People started associating the video/mask with Nicky Romero. At some point Nicky himself chose to wear the mask at his gigs as well. That’s when it all started to feel “official” for everybody. Still, it was a big surprise for us that our video got nominated for the IDMA in January 2013. Especially because it has never been the official video, but seems like only few people knew that. At that time both Nicky and us felt, we should meet.
We met in London, had a great talk and initiated some future plans. One of it was the promotional video for the DJ Mag Top 100 DJ voting 2013. So this was the first official collaboration between us. We decided on making this video like an homage to the Toulouse video, in which Nicky is stalked by the masked guy with the green/golden hoodie jacket.
Since we had a small budget, the result definitely shows the difference in terms of production value in comparison to the Toulouse video:
By now, there are a few dozen parodies of the Toulouse video from all over the world on YouTube. Just type in ‘Toulouse parody’.
If you go to Google, Amazon or eBay, you can type in ‘Toulouse Mask’ and the mask will show up.
Type in Nicky Romero in Google or YouTube and the video is the first thing that will appear.
I think it’s safe to say, we played a big part in shaping Nicky’s image and the image of the mask in general.
It especially makes me happy to see kids being inspired by the video and actually go out to do something creative on their own. It’s just the greatest reward you can get.
At this point I should highlight that none of the people that worked on the Toulouse video ever profited financially (including myself). However we hope, this great success will give us many more opportunities to do more original and bold work for great artists in the future. I think the DJs & producers need to be more courageous in terms of what kind of music videos they choose to do. There’s just so much cheap (yet, often not so cheaply produced) & boring stuff all over the web, which nobody really cares about and which won’t ever stand the test of time. Only few artists seem to really want to be pioneering, daring and game-changing in that field.
Especially new artists should seek to invest in a good music video. Since people mostly share videos, not songs (there wouldn’t be a “Gangnam Style” without its video) – what better way is there to promote your music? In times of YouTube & Facebook, it simply has become the most powerful marketing tool you can get and every artist should see & treat it that way!
I think Toulouse is a great example of this and I hope in putting more out there in the future.
Oh and one last thing: Personally, I think there couldn’t be a better style of music for awesome music videos than EDM.