There was a calm quiet vibe on set shortly after our arrival at the secreted Sensible Studios in North London as the 7-person crew began the careful set-up operation, with small talk amongst some of the crew-members with one of the world’s biggest YouTube sensations. “How many Snapchatters you got?” “450” says KSI (also known as JJ) “Is that it…?” replies Director Jak X. “Thousand.” was the YouTuber’s casual response.
In 2009, KSIOlajidebt released his first video about EA Sports Game FIFA. 1.7 million Twitter Followers, 1.8 Million Facebook Fans, and over 8.5 Million YouTube subscribers later, the 21-year-old Londoner is now one of the most recognised faces on the internet, a highly sourced after public figure (evident from the amount of times he was stopped and asked to take a picture during the day of the shoot), and proud owner of a very expensive Lamborghini Aventador, which just so happens to be the focus of his up-coming video single, “Lamborghini” featuring London Grime artist P Money.
Talking on his relatively swift, but hardly unexpected move into music KSI expresses both his concerns and passions’,
“I’m trying not to p*ss off my fan base, they mainly know me for my YouTube and FIFA stuff. I don’t just wanna be like ‘oh I’m just going to the music industry, see you later’. I do like music, music has been a passion of mine, I just like making good music, it’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame, I just like performing if you know what I mean. It’s just sick, just being on that stage, and just rapping your heart out, going mad, enjoying the vibes, I’ve always wanted to do that”
In fact, music has most likely always been on the cards for this young, amicable internet star, seeing as he linked up with Sway, founder of Dcypha Productions, and renowned producer and a MOBO and BET award-winning artist in his own right, to feature on the track “No Sleep” back in 2013 followed by a couple of other projects. Arriving at the film studio during a scene in which the crew put KSI’s acting skills to the test, Sway quickly delved deeply into industry topics of conversation with Dcypha producer, DJ Turkish along with P Money, before it was P’s turn to step in front of the camera with KSI to film his “Murderous verse” as the YouTube star described it.
“Top artists of grime get known and get big, quick, and what happens is they get a deal and move onto something else. It’s like a reset button” described P Money, speaking on the issues the culture has repeatedly faced.
“But I feel this time the difference is that people have realised we keep doing the same thing, let’s try something different. For once, we are all actually happy for each other and happy to work with each other, whereas before there was so many differences, now it’s just like “you do music, I do music, I think you’re good and vice versa, let’s work”, it’s just more natural now”
“I feel privileged man, I mean I defiantly understand he’s got a crazy fan base, he’s in a completely different world” explains P about the experience of working with KSI, “I fully understand the opportunity he’s actually given me, as well as him feeling like ‘Yo I’m getting to work with P Money’, I’m like ‘Yo, I’m on a track with KSI’ you know. It’s just mutual respect and it’s a good vibe as well, it was just a natural link up, it feels good.”
Over half of the day gone, and a handful of strenuous and intense takes later, the next location for the shoot proved twice as hectic. Pulling up into Camden Square in his newly pimped out head turner as the darkness began to loom, KSI seemed energetic and as ready as ever to film the next scenes, despite operating on less than 3 hours sleep, which if anything, is testament to the guy’s dedication and hunger for this release to be a success. “I’ve done a few things before with Sway but this is pretty special…,” explains a lively KSI standing across the street from his gleaming parked Lambo, attracting every passer-by to stop and take a picture or ask what’s going on, as a small crowd grew with the extras for the scene arriving. “…It’s mine, it’s all coming together and I cant wait to see the final video, it’s gonna be sick, I’m excited.”
After finishing up at the penultimate location, the day seemed long, but was far from one of the most demanding and complex shoots the team had previously worked on. “Director X, Karim Huu Do, The Wachowski Brothers” came first to 22-year old director Jak X’s mind when asked about his favourite and most inspiring directors. Sat in the front seat of the vehicle he was about to be strapped to the back of to film KSI’s moving Lamborghini, the last scene of the night, in one of the most anonymous yet thrilling underpasses, the perfect spot.
“I shot a video for my friend once, it turned out ok, and since I’ve just kept making them. As I made more and more, I really enjoyed it. Then I started to come up with cool creative concepts and was pitching them, people liked them and now, it’s progressed to this, we’re out here shooting. After the label liking the concept I pitched, I was really excited to work with KSI.” Jak, who also runs workshops for young people looking to learn more about video production, has worked with some of the most influential artists all over the globe and plans to continue doing so as well as expanding his horizons as he explains “Definitely one day I want to make feature films, like Mark Webb, he’s a great example of the transition from music videos into film.”
Once wrapped, there was a sense of elation and relief from everyone. The time constraints and constant unloading, setting-up and loading equipment over and over again had eventually caught up and so, when looking back at some of the final shots of the shoot, it was incredible to see the attachments and chemistry between the crew and KSI.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the drop of KSI’s “Lamborghini” ft P Money video.