The most beautiful music videos are, quite often, ones made by photographers; those who understand the art of the still image are often best equipped to capture and sequence moving pictures. Great photography requires a sense of composition, lighting, shading, shot selection, balance, and poise, and young Egija Smeile is an extraordinary photographer. She’s already made a name for herself in her home city of Riga for her striking portraits and engrossing landscapes. For the gorgeous clip for “Naked Love,” from the Latvian artist The Orange Apples., Smeile has joined forces with one of the most daring new filmmakers in the Baltics – the award-winning Stanislavs Tokalovs.
Smeile and Tokalovs havee chosen a worthy subject. What’s Your Name?, the debut set by The Orange Apples., is as winsome, passionate, and unforgettable as the best photo exhibitions. Ilona Skuča’s songwriting is consistently lovestruck, artful, and ambitious, and it begs for a cinematic treatment. “Naked Love” unrolls gracefully, Skuča’s voice like an Irish diva, with notes and chords that hang in the air like mist – but there’s a deep undercurrent of trouble, too. Like so much of the best Nordic art, this is music designed to haunt the listener. Skuča has crafted a sound that feels at once international and positively singular – music written in the language of dreams, sweet, and seductive, and dangerous.
The “Naked Love” clip opens with a shot of two attractive young women and a similarly-dressed young man, together in a field, backs against a tree, meadow grass swaying in the wind behind them. It’s idyllic, but it’s also slightly unsettling – and the feeling of unease only deepens when the trio is approached by another man. The relationships are deliberately ambiguous, but they’re all pregnant with sexual possibilities. From there, the intrigue only deepens, as Smeili and Tokalovs shoot their subjects in increasingly provocative poses: dressed in black leather bodysuits, legs tied amidst the tall grass, encased and gyrating in gauzy plastic cocoons, standing with their faces so close that it feels like it’s illogical for them not to kiss. It’s all achingly beautiful and deeply mysterious, and it’s suffused with dark and alluring magic.