Prolific promo director Chris Applebaum has had a career that has seen him direct promos for chart-topping artists including Rihanna [below], Britney Spears, Usher, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, Selena Gomez and many more.

shots caught up with the director to find out about his inspiration, and what's on his Playlist.

What’s the best promo you’ve seen recently and why?

MIA Bad Girls is literally the most recent I’ve loved. Beyond that, I haven’t seen anything more recent that I enjoyed as much. Aside from the bad-ass car stunts, I got the sense that every shot was done with haste before the local police discovered what MIA was doing. I like that Guerrilla-style quality.



What’s the first promo you remember being impressed by?

Duran Duran’s Rio video.  Then, in a subsequent interview on MTV, when asked how the location was chosen the video’s director, Julian Temple, explained that he closes his eyes, spins a globe, and wherever his finger lands – that’s where they shoot. That’s the interview that made me want to become a video director. Rio was filmed in Antigua by the way.



And what’s your all-time favourite music video?

Guns N' Roses November Rain – because someone needed to make the most bonkers, balls-out epic, and this video holds nothing back.



What other directors/artists do you look to for inspirational?

I love The Most Famous Artist, Quentin Tarantino, and Dr Dre has a narrative progression to his record production that greatly influenced how I put music video narratives together post-2001.

I draw a lot of lighting and film look influences from fashion photographers like David Bellemere, Inez & Vinoodh, Mert & Marcus, Camilla Akrans, and new LA photographers like The Cobrasnake and Kimberly Gordon. But right now I am excited by Instagram and how people are creating some interesting statements with the format.



What are you listening to at the moment?

The Struts – because they’ve got some killer attitude, and American rap, like Migos – because they push their subject matter into an aggressively preposterous realm. It’s fantasy, and I like their reckless abandon. But my favourite band is The Clash.



What’s your favourite bit of tech, whether for professional or personal use?

G-Ro carry-on luggage. It’s was a Kickstarter campaign that’s now manufactured and it’s brilliant. I can charge my phone and laptop at the same time. It has new, oversized wheels to run over any surface, as airports are different all over the world, and it has an App where I can track the suitcase (using GSM/GPRS) if for some reason it’s lost or stolen.



What artist(s) would you most like to work with and why?

I’m lucky in that I’ve worked with almost everyone on my Favourites List. However, I wish I’d shot a video with David Bowie. He will always remain one of my greatest inspirations.




How do you feel the promo industry has changed since you started in it?

There are the obvious increasingly shrinking budgets and lack of time associated with projects now, but I think it is the number of wasted ideas, with up to 20 directors pitching on a project, there are so many videos that should have and could have been made.  There are so many more layers now.  November Rain came out of an irreverent freedom. There are less risks being taken and consequently less raw emotion.


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: The Impression That I Get (dir. Chris Applebaum)


Music videos have had a resurgence of late; where do you see the industry being in five years’ time?

All industries adapt and change with time and the human condition.  The world is at such a hiatus now the only hope is that this period of uncertainty and change can further inspire artists to group together to create a stronger voice.  Music and music videos are  a reflection on society.  Turbullent times tend to create powerful creative work.


 American Hi-Fi: Flavor Of The Weak (dir. Chris Applebaum)


Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know…

People won’t know I’m actually not a complete douche. I just act like one all the time.

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