Emile Rafael’s mysterious promo for British electronic soul music duo Stubborn Heart’s moody track Penetrate, radiates a sense of intrigue about its beautifully shot abandoned spaces and the sole female occupants dwelling within. As a regular presence on DN, we asked Emile to give us the mystery preserving background on the promo.

“The track has a very dark atmosphere to it mixed with beautiful vocals, so I thought the video should transmit the same feelings. When listening to it I kept seeing these empty houses in desolate locations, and remembered the photography of Todd Hido who I’ve been a fan of for a long time. He recently had a book published called ‘Excerpts From Silver Meadows‘ which had his usual themes of desolate locations, but also had a new element of lone women in these empty rooms and it immediately made me think of reasons why these women might be there. That was the major inspiration and the story developed from there. I was trying to get the same feeling of not revealing too much, so the audience is on the edge of knowing the story, but still have room for interpretation. At the same time I did try for it to have a satisfying ending with somewhat of a punch at the end.

We shot over two days with the Alexa, one of them including dropping ink into a fish tank. The location was the last remaining pre-fab estate of its kind remaining in London; half of it already half derelict as many residents had been phased out and a lot of street lamps didn’t work within the estate. It was quite an unnerving experience being there at night, but very thrilling at the same time – it felt perfect for this kind of story. The main thing for me was to select my cast carefully and keep this sense of ambiguity of why these women are there – to have some deliberation in your mind of whether it’s a story of salvation or something very sinister.”

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