Despite being the visionary behind the music videos for some of the leading names in the local scene, including Cassper Nyovest, Riky Rick, Nasty C, Khuli Chana, Tumi, The Parlotones and Toya Delazy, Kyle Lewis still views directing music videos as passion project. “The first thing to be sacrificed is mine pay and my producer’s pay. I want to pump all the money that I have into the visual. It’s important to me that it looks good and that the idea that’s in my mind is executed as well as I possibly can,” Kyle explains emphatically.
With a bold visual style and thought-provoking concepts, Kyle’s work stands out from the standard performance videos that are so prevalent today. “Making straightforward performance videos are no longer appealing to me, because if you don’t make money from it you need to make it worth your while, and make something you’re really proud of.”
Describing his aesthetic as dark, Kyle Lewis shies away from producing overly happy work. “Looking at the dark side of the human psyche has always been an interesting place for me because happiness and this frivolity is sometimes a mask we put on for darker inner feelings.” He attributes this attraction to darkness to his dad exposing him to bad horror films as a child. This darkness can be seen in videos such as Cassper Nyovest’s ‘War Ready’, Riky Rick’s ‘FUSEG’ and his most recent offering for Durban rapper Zakwe on his track ‘Zebentin’, featuring Cassper Nyovest & Musiholiq.
Zebentin also features the artist Pure, who can be seen in ‘War Ready’ and ‘Good Girls’ too. Kyle directed the music video for her single ‘No Secrets’, and he describes her as his new muse. “She’s willing. As long as it’s art she’s down for it.” The video is raw and real, with the performers completely naked and appearing without makeup or hair styling. “It was all about body positivity. I’m very proud of that one,” Kyle says.
His videos also often feature more than just his creative vision, with Kyle getting hands on designing and making props such as masks, headpieces and wigs for his videos. “It started off with the necessity for me to make [props], and now it’s just become a thing,” he says showing me a wig he made that Pure wore in the ‘Zebentin’ video.
From making his directorial debut with Locnville’s ‘Sun in my Pocket’, shot on a 5D and R2000 budget, to epic productions such as Nasty C’s ‘Bad Hair’ and Riky Rick’s ‘Exodus’, Kyle Lewis has grown as a director, becoming more comfortable with his vision and more deft at executing them. Music videos aren’t the end goal for Kyle who hopes to make the move into feature films in the future although he is very sensitive about storytelling in South Africa. “I’m very opinionated about who can tell whose story. That’s why I think horror is a good direction for me because I don’t necessarily have to make it anything cultural that I shouldn’t be saying.” With his bold aesthetic, a feature-length Kyle Lewis directed horror would be a visual feast.