When singer, actress, and dancer Tinashe wants something, she makes it happen. “I don’t like to sit around waiting for people to do things for me,” the 22-year-old says over the phone from London, where she is currently on tour. “So when I know my label’s not going to produce music videos, I’ll either make them myself or I’ll find people that I think are cool and reach out to them directly. I’m like, ‘Fuck it. I’ll just do it.’”
That’s pretty much what happened with her new video for “Bated Breath,” an emotional track off of her 2014 debut solo album, Aquarius. First, she approached videographer Stephen Garnett. “I’d seen some of his work and really loved it,” she says. “I’d always wanted to work with him on something, and he mentioned that ‘Bated Breath’ is one of his favorite songs.” Once Garnett was on board, the next steps—to dream up and execute a cinematic visual concept to match the epic quality of the nearly six-minute long song—were a bit more challenging. Together, Garnett and Tinashe developed the idea to shoot in the Mojave Desert, about three hours from their mutual home base of Los Angeles. So, along with a couple of crew members, they drove out there on morning at 6 a.m. “It was pretty DIY,” Tinashe says, of the five-hour shoot. “It wasn’t a big production or anything.”
It helped that she had a bit of experience: Aquarius’s singles “2 On” and “Pretend” were both accompanied by label-produced videos, featuring SchoolBoy Q and A$AP Rocky, respectively. The difference this time around was that she had total creative control of the project. “It doesn’t have to go through a million people, and have a budget or a whole crew,” she says. “You just eliminate all of that.” Of course, some creature comforts fell by the wayside. “You have to fix your own hair, there’s no catering, and there’s no bathroom,” Tinashe laughs, “but the challenges became benefits in this case, because they made the video a whole lot grungier. I was incredibly dirty, really dragging myself through the dirt. And it wasn’t like I could shower before I had to drive home.”
The final product, an eight-minute film that highlights both the remarkable desert landscape and Tinashe’s versatility as a performer, is truly breathtaking—and looks anything but homemade. “I love directing,” she says. “I’d love to direct for other people in the future.” Don’t try to stop her...