There are a lot of words that could be used to describe Lorde, but “vanilla” is not one of them — which is why the video for “Team” was similarly non-traditional.
Alex Takacs, who also goes by the directing moniker Young Replicant, worked closely with Lorde to make her Dystopian video — about a cadre of teens living outside of societal norms — as varied as possible.
“It was all about casting people who kind of felt — who I guess had a natural look,” Takacs told MTV News. “In casting I tend to find people who have what I call a ‘vanilla face,’ which is kind of what you get a lot when you cast in L.A. You get a lot of TV hopefuls that kind of have this generic leading man quality. But for this we were really looking for kids who have a unique look.”
Lorde was particularly concerned with casting teens with acne-spotted faces, a decision that coincided with the lyric: “Now bring my boys in/ Their skin in craters like the moon.”
“We found this great guy who had an amazing face,” Takacs said. “He had these scarred cheeks, which I thought made him look really interesting. But unfortunately he didn’t really make it into the video.”
When it came to the setting, the director was similarly preoccupied with beautiful decay. The video was filmed in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in an abandoned building called the Red Hook Grain Terminal.
“It has kind of a sad story,” he said, explaining how the building was built as the grain industry was crumbling. The building then fell into disrepair, making it the perfect location for the “Lord of the Flies”-esque video, in which a young boy travels to an island full of teens and goes through a series of tests to become part of their “team.”
According to the director, Lorde was very involved in the music video process, an observation that jibes with what she told MTV News this past summer about her other music videos.
“Basically everything that I put out that has my name on it is controlled by me,” she said. “I have a very strong visual identity. I know how I want stuff to look. I’m almost too involved. I feel like people who work with me are like, ‘Oh, God! Leave me alone!’”
Luckily, Takacs was not bothered by Lorde’s Kanye West-ness.
“There was a lot of back and forth,” he said. “She was really fascinated by the process and wanted to know who we were casting. She was really easy to work with.”