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Lorde's 'Yellow Flicker Beat' Was Inspired By This Surreal YouTube Video

Director Emily Kai Bock explains what inspired that dark music video.

While most of us spend our time on the Internet looking at cats yelling "nononono" and taking quizzes to determine which eating utensil speaks to our souls, Lorde is watching totally bizarre interviews with iconic movie stars. Or, at least one totally bizarre interview -- a conversation between Mae West and Dick Cavett that served as the inspiration for her video, "Yellow Flicker Beat."

"It’s this really surreal interview where [Cavett] basically walks across this airport airplane hangar and then Mae West is reclining in his chair in this creepy little interview setup," director Emily Kai Bock told MTV News.

Watch The Bizarre YouTube Video That Inspired Lorde's "Yellow Flicker Beat" Here

Lorde was taken, Bock said, with the way the West video featured tiny worlds inside massive spaces, and wanted to replicate that idea in "Yellow Flicker Beat." To do that, Bock created dark worlds lit by singular light sources -- a neon sign, a chandelier, a confessional -- worlds that bleed into each other as the video progresses in such a way that the viewer isn't sure if we're inside, outside or in a purely fabricated reality.

The idea pretty accurately reflects the manufactured landscape of the "Hunger Games" films/movies, in which jungles and oceans can exist in man-made, contained arenas.

"You don’t really know where you are," Bock said of the video. "It draws you in. The lighting is sort of surreal -- the bright neon light, the gold light from the car headlights. I think of it more as painting, a world of painting."

The video was shot partly in New Jersey, and partly at the Park Avenue Armory during New York Fashion Week -- in between shows by Marc Jacobs and Tommy Hilfiger. The team only had one day to build the sets and shoot, but even though Lorde was on tour and likely exhausted, Bock said she was game for anything.

"There was a scene where she had to fall off a four-foot platform onto these mats repeatedly, and she was really excited about it," she said. "I think she even complained that the platform wasn't higher."

Working with Lorde, Bock said, was a pretty singular experience when it comes to high-profile acts. The two met through Majical Cloudz frontman -- and Lorde's tourmate -- Devon Welsh, for whom Bock had previously shot videos.

"I guess she liked them and she wrote me a personal email," Bock said. "I was like, 'This is strange,' because usually an artist of her caliber, there’s usually a huge amount of people you have to go through. She was just like, 'Hey what’s up? Hey I’m Ella and I play in the band named Lorde.' I was like, 'Yeah, obviously I know who you are.'"

Mae West videos and no-nonsense emails -- that's how Lorde does it. And the results... well, they speak for themselves. Let's watch "Yellow Flicker Beat" one more time, shall we?