— You said that you didn't have a choice, but have you ever dreamed about becoming someone else?
— Oh, no no (laughs). From a very young age I knew this was what I wanted to do. I enjoy making long feature films, short films, music videos, and sometimes commercials. I come from a generation raised by television, so I don't necessary think that films are a noble art, and you can't do something else. I think it's good to do a bit of everything.
— We watched pretty much all of the music videos that you've made, most of them are pretty aggressive and rebellious. Where does it come from? Why are you interested in this part of human nature?
— It depends, some of the videos have humor in them as well, and some are very serious. I don't know, I can't really point out where it comes from. In Paris, it's interesting, people are mixed up. When I was growing up, there were kids from the ghetto, and kids with money in my class, all mixed together. So the 90's in France was quite an aggressive time. French rappers were out, there were riots, I saw it all. Besides, the world is quite an aggressive place.
— So actually you didn't undermine this part of human nature, it was your reality?
— Yeah, you know, it's from the stuff you see, and from the stuff you feel about the world, and like we see it now, especially this year, this summer, the clash of civilisations is coming, bit by bit. And when people ask me about violence in my videos, saying that the world is a much better place, I recommend them to watch the news, because reality is worse than the most violent video or film you can ever make.
— How do you choose artists you work with? I assume very few artists would trust a director like you to make their music video. You say you need freedom in creating your work, and you won't play by somebody else's rules. How does this work?
— I mostly work with friends. All the artists I made videos for are my friends, like the boys from Justice or Maya (*better known for her stage name M.I.A. – Etage). And when Kanye West and Jay-Z approached me, I told them that I would only do it if they left me completely alone and trust me, and they did (music video "No church in the wild", – Etage).. I'm only interested in making videos as I see them, as little things of their own. They are not necessarily made to promote a disk or an artist, they are pieces of art collaboration between music and film.
— I noticed that. For instance, video "Stress" for Justice really put me through stress, and I was waiting for it to finish, because I was literally stressed by it. It felt like I was watching a short film rather than just a music video.
— Yes, and sometimes I experiment with genres, for example, embracing all the codes of pop music video in M.I.A.'s "Bad Girls". Different things interest me at different times.
— I found it very edgy, and to me it's not offensive, since I come from a different culture, but is still funny and kitsch... I found it very cool.
— The idea was to make a normal pop video. What is a normal pop video? It has playback, dancing, singing, and bright colors. But instead of usual ingredients, I put the things Americans perceive as attributes of the enemy, and made people dance to it. It was just a way to explore the genre of pop music videos, but it was cool that everybody liked it, from Americas to Arab world. Everybody had fun with it.