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A creative power couple and partners in crime, Ari Dayan and Brett Gelman joined forces to translate her latest pop banger, “Love”, into a killer music video that revels in its good humor and sensuality to deliver a fun but very genuine examination of the very human anxiety and insecurity that hides underneath the filter-perfect glamour of social media.

“Love” is about self-love, yes, but it is also inevitably intermingled with the toxic version of it- narcissism can be a neurotic death trap that’s easy to fall into, as Ari herself puts it when talking about the music video “we’re watching this woman unravel by her own manic need for external validation. It was really fun to play this deliciously tragic person. A version of her lives inside me.”


Brett Gelman is a comedian, writer, director, and actor, probably best remembered for co-starring as Martin on the BBC comedy “Fleabag”  and Murray Bauman on Netflix’s hit series “Stranger Things”. This music video is his first foray into the director’s chair, an exciting and new experience that we made sure he told us all about.

Meanwhile, Ari Dayan is also a multi-hyphenate artist whose main focus is in a brand of intrepid, charming, and sparkly in-your-face kind of pop music meant to pump up the self-care and self-esteem factor

First off, how did the two of you link up? How did the project come to be?


Brett: Well, we’re together. LOL. And it goes without saying that Ari’s music deeply inspires me, and she was taking a lot of her songs and reaching out to directors to make videos for them, and I had been wanting to start directing, and she knew this obviously so she was like “Why don’t you direct the video for LOVE?” And I was like “Yes, yes, and oh please yes.”


Ari: I wrote a song entirely about self-love and acceptance so it seemed fitting that the stage on which the video is set is the very place we forge our greatest inauthenticities…social media. I think my online presence is one of my challenges as an artist so the narrative spiraled from there. The video is about desperation to be loved and validated externally and the price we pay for that need. I’m aware that I am that which I am laughing at. My need to be loved is absolutely insatiable. 


Brett, you’re better known as an actor, writer, and comedian, is this your first time in a director’s chair?


Yes, it is. 


Brett, How would you describe the experience? What stood out to you from a creative standpoint and labor standpoint compared to what you usually do in the writer’s room or at the other end of the camera?

Well, I’ve produced things that I’ve written and acted in, and in that position, and even as an actor I always try to take the role of being a bit of a caretaker of the cast and crew. I’m always interested in achieving an environment where people can feel like they’re making something special and are having a fulfilling time. In this case, I got to run that feeling, and construct the whole visual and energetic tone. It was the first time that that came from me because in the past the directors I’ve been lucky to work with did that obviously. And part of my job as an actor and or producer was serving their vision, and here I got to serve mine, which was really liberating. 


The music video has a lot of deliberate levity to it, it’s safe to say it’s all very intentionally humorous at times. Does that come primarily from Brett’s own sensibilities or was that something that Ari pushed for when conceptualizing the whole thing?


Brett: It is very safe to say that, yes. This video is a total equal collaboration between Ari and I. We came up with the concept together, and we’re both inherently funny, so there was never a doubt in either of our minds that the video should be funny. Ari is a comic genius and her previous videos hadn’t showcased that side of her. Plus, the song itself has a celebratory tone to it. We wanted to both play into that celebration and then put in some darkness and desperation, which juxtaposed with the tone of the song creates a lot of the comedy. 


Ari: We speak the same language when it comes to what’s funny. I would have an idea and Brett would add to it and the other way around and we found our mutual voice pretty quickly. It has a lot of both of us in it both conceptually and tonally. I find a lot of joy at laughing at myself and I think Brett does too. This is a love letter to that part of ourselves.  


Ari. Though pop music tends to swing between saccharine and sassy, your brand seems to be much more acerbic and biting. Is that a reflection of your own personality or is music more of an outlet for you? 


Oh yes, my music completely mirrors who I am interpersonally. I write the way I speak and that’s a really important part of songwriting to me. I see the funny in a lot of things. It was about survival in my formative years and now it’s just how I see the world. I don’t separate my art from myself and I don’t think I could even if I tried. It’s all one thing and that makes it cathartic. Songwriting helps me metabolize emotions.


 Who would you cite as having the biggest influence on your sound?


I grew up on ABBA, Whitney Houston, Beegees, Stevie Nicks, and Madonna. There are so many heroes I don’t even know where to begin. I’m a product of the 90’s/2000’s and the pop that came out of those years blows my mind. It’s annoying when people shit on pop music, it’s popular music for a reason. Being aloof is exhausting. 


As a songwriter, where do you feel yourself drawing most often from? Is there a running theme across your lyrics right now?

It depends on the day and what’s inspiring or irritating me at any given moment. What you’ll always find is sincerity. I recently wrote a song that didn’t have an ounce of cynicism which surprised even me. Maybe I’m happier these days. I guess I like myself better which lends itself to liking the world better so my music. 


I read that there’s a whole bunch of new songs from you coming our way. Are you planning on releasing an EP or album as well?


Oh yes! This song is the first single off the EP. Very excited to share what I’ve been cooking in my slimy little cave. 


Recently, you performed a headlining show at LA’s Hotel Café. How’d you feel about the experience? Are you eager to do a live circuit soon or are you focused on recording and releasing?


An audience is one of my great pleasures as an artist. When I’m on stage performing my music, it’s always coupled with storytelling and comedic bits. I’m deeply inspired by Cher and Bette Middler who are both wonderful musicians and comic geniuses. I think sharing yourself on stage outside of your musical pieces is part of what makes a live show special. At the very least it’s what has made them special to me. 


Who is Ari Dayan in her downtime? What nurtures you outside of music?


I’m acting in my first film this year. I’m really excited about this new endeavor. Who doesn’t want to be a multi-hyphenate in Hollywood, baby? 


Story: Samuel Aponte Photos: DAVID-SIMON DAYAN




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