Blessed to Premiere: Le’Asha Julius’s Video for “Thieves”
Le’Asha Julius of Quincy Vidal premiered the music video for her song “Thieves” (off of QV’s 2014 Utopia/LDZ double-album), and it’s as vibrant as we’ve come to expect from the multi-talented DC transplant. The Afrocentric video is the brainchild of Quincy Vidal comrades CE and Phil Missana. Clocking in just under two minutes, the piece is captivating and magnetizing, as energetic as a Quincy Vidal live show.
In “Thieves,” Le’Asha displays the wide scope of her womanhood with impressive brevity.
Her onscreen figure is at times vulnerable, blithe, sultry, and fiery. The scenes showing her confident sways made me feel the beat’s upswing, while the tear she drops draws out the melancholy piano melody. Le’Asha smoothly transitions from patterned African garb to a full length mink, and even amidst a dark-blue backdrop she glows with luminous body paint. Her face is expressive and sells her spiritually-tinged lyrics about self-love and relationships.
Le’Asha describes the song as a stream of consciousness over Black Star’s essential “Thieves in the Night” instrumental, and the visuals align closely with her vivid songwriting. CE did a masterful job editing the video; nearly every bar that Julius delivers is matched by a fresh visual cue. Most of the video takes place against a plain white backdrop, but the variant sequencing keeps the viewer on his or her toes.
As both a song and a music video, “Thieves” reminds us that creativity is not simply about the tools, but more about how you use them. Enjoy.
The “Thieves” video and song are Exhibit A of creativity not being about the tools, but how you use them. Enjoy. Catch the video below and an interview with Le’Asha after that.
Can you discuss this song in the context of your Utopia Album?
This song is probably the shortest song on my side of the album, Utopia. First off, I was inspired to name the album Utopia ever since I left home for college. Not realizing I was pretty much leaving my mom’s house forever, never to return again as a resident. I’ll visit and stay a few days, a week at most, but that’s it. Never anything too much longer than that.
Being away from home and stranded on campus, I had to find myself through myself. I felt like I was dropped on a planet with all these people completely different from me and I wasn’t quite sure who I was anymore, If I ever even knew to begin with.
My biggest struggle was self worth. I wanted to feel like I was important, and sexy, and smart, and I would find ways to feel this, whether it was through smoking, sex, or music, I wanted to feel like I belonged. I guess the entire album is about lost love, and lack of confidence.
What sparked the idea for the video treatment?
I wanted a video that would represent the entire album and not just one song. I chose Thieves because its not really about any specific topic. It’s kind of a stream of consciousness. I simply called it “Thieves” because the music is from that BlackStar song, Thieves in the Night, and I couldn’t figure out a title for the song. I was hoping to change it before the album was released but I never got around to it. I’m also not sure what I would’ve called it. “Thoughts/dreams about everything/nothing” ? Maybe “thoughts about everything, dreams about nothing” I don’t know…I just came up with that.
The first line, “They think I ain’t immaculate/ Others think Im a genius like a savant and shit” came to me after one of my close friends made a joke. He said that so many other people think I’m so cool and want to be around me but only my closest friends really know how lame and silly I can be but I was always pretty much a genius when it comes to the stage. I thought that was hilarious. I agreed.
How long did it take you to think up the different scenes and wardrobe choices?
The different images and wardrobes in the video represent all the different parts of me that make me whole. All the different sides I have to explore and accept and love. I wasn’t sure how to love myself and my many complexities. I lacked confidence. It didn’t take long for me to come up with these ideas and images. Maybe a good week with a few tweaks here and there shortly after.
I’ve known for a long time the kind of feeling Utopia gives me. I felt like the album was expressing myself clearly through sounds. Not necessarily the words, although the lyrics are pretty much straight forward, I felt like music and the harmonies and the effects gave off the perfect Utopia that I was looking for.
The face and body adornment you wore during parts of the video, what personal/spiritual significance does it have for you? In what manner do you believe they connect to the message in your song?
I really just wanted to portray beauty. Black beauty. Another way of showing how immaculate I am. I wasn’t just showing the people watching the video, I was also showing myself. There are a few outfits you wouldn’t ever catch me wearing in public. The outfit with the white fur coat, and my thunder thighs is one of them. I almost covered my ass in this outfit, I was going to wear shorts. I was afraid to take the risk, because even during filming I had to remind myself how beautiful I am.
What was the metaphorical purpose of the scenes with the knife and the balloon? What’s being popped?
The idea of the balloons came from a fashion photo I saw once somewhere. There was a model surrounded by balloons, and the photo caught some of the balloons in mid air. I thought it would be cool to have balloons like that, all around and in mid air, but instead of a photo, it’s a video. I chose balloons that light up or glow in the dark, because somewhere during preparation I thought it would be really cool to have a black light scene with glow in the body paint. I felt that it added to the mysteriousness of the video.
Popping the balloon was just another image I saw in my head. It doesn’t really mean anything specific. Its another product of my belief that Utopia is an album of sounds and images. I leave it up to the audience to decide what popping the balloon means to them.
Can you explain the sequence between 0:48-0:51, how the visual sequence parallels to lost love? Does the red color of the cloth signify your feelings about flawed relationships?
The sequence between 0:48-0:51 was simply the work of the editor, you may have heard of him, CE. He’s also in that hip hop group. I think they’re called Quincy Vidal.
I had the idea of flying scarves, and he edited it so it came at that moment. I think that was a great idea. Where most of my work was in the images, He was great at putting the images with the words.
Why do you feel “bad bitches got the brains of sad niggas” and vice versa? Does that correlate to your tear later in the video?
I think everything correlates to my tear in the video. All the shit I’ve been through as far as self worth, love, all the shit that Black People have been through, all the shit that this country has been through.
When I say, “Bad bitches got the brains of sad niggas and sad niggas got the brains of bad bitches,” I meant exactly that. During the creation of this album I was involved with my first love. 3 and a half years of bullshit. This guy and I had the weirdest relationship, but was so common among young couples everywhere. You know the whole thing like, He’s kind of like my boyfriend but we don’t have a title, and he can see other people but I can’t, and when I do, he’s like, “You cheated!” But I’m like, “How did I cheat if we aren’t really together,” and blah blah blah.
Most of the time I felt like I was acting like the guy and he was acting like the girl. And all of this stems back to who we are as a people and how we’ve been treated and how this country fucked up how we see ourselves as a people… but thats an entirely different conversation.