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Behind the lens with HipHopCanada Unplugged director Kieran Khan
Kieran Khan (Photo: Instagram)

Interview: Q&A

Behind the lens with “HipHopCanada Unplugged” director Kieran Khan

Over the last several months, HipHopCanada has welcomed new team members onto the roster to keep driving strong content creation. Thanks to the expansion of the team, we have been able to launch a number of new series, creating platforms for Canadian hip-hop and R&B artists to showcase their talent and the story behind their art including, Unplugged.

Unplugged, directed by Kieran Khan, gets up-close-and-personal with Canada’s rising R&B artists to give viewers insight into the experiences, beliefs, and influences behind their music.

Check out our interview with Kieran to learn more about the talent behind the lens.

Behind the lens with HipHopCanada Unplugged director Kieran Khan

HipHopCanada Unplugged is directed by Kieran Khan.

Q&A: Kieran Khan

HipHopCanada: How long have you been in the industry as a director/videographer?

Kieran Khan: I’ve been a videographer for about seven years now. However, I have only gained the confidence in my craft to label myself as a director in the last [couple of years].

HipHopCanada: What piece of work are you most proud of creating/helping create?

Kieran Khan: Even though I have been in the field for almost a decade, I believe I haven’t created that piece just yet. Maybe I never will because I’ll continue to evolve and I’ll always raise my standards.

HipHopCanada: How have you seen quality and style shift in regards to music videos over the last few years?

Kieran Khan: I’ve seen that a lot of people are reverting back to the old school videos with a modern twist — you know that VHS, grainy look. Actually, I recently learned that Drake’s “Hotline Bling” video was themed after an artist I’m currently working with, Sean Paul. Hotline Bling pulled elements of Sean Paul’s “I’m still in love” video — artists are repurposing concepts from the past and making it their own.

HipHopCanada: In your opinion, when was our best era for music videos?

Kieran Khan: Definitely the 90s, man those guys were storytellers! They were like mini-movies, we need that shit back. The visuals [from that time] gave so much more insight into what the song meant, especially the videos that had little [story] twists at the end – R.Kelly, was the boss at that lol. I look back and think of those fun, wild, retro-style videos that TLC used to put out (kind of what Migos did for “the video for Motorsport”) – whether you like the song or not, the visuals used to make you [grow to] like the song because it just had you glued to the TV.

Behind the lens with HipHopCanada Unplugged director Kieran Khan

Kieran Khan on his job.

HipHopCanada: Do you think the video content supporting the music coming out of Canada is good?

Kieran Khan: Here’s the thing about that. The content “Canadian” artist are putting out is either the most AMAZING shit you’ll see or straight GARBAGE, there isn’t any in between. The Weeknd’s visuals? DOPE. Justin Bieber’s visuals? DOPE. Tory Lanez? DOPE. Drake? DOPE. If you want to challenge me and say, “yeah those guys have budgets,” then let me redirect you HipHopCanada’s IG and take a look at so many unsigned artist with DOPE visuals. [Many of the videos we showcase on HipHopCanda] showcase creativity and complement the track with no big budget. Now, on the flip side, we have so many talented up-and-coming artists in the city that are putting out straight garbage [in terms of] visuals and that can be for various reasons — not being resourceful, not pushing themselves creatively, or choosing to work with someone who calls themselves a director, but doesn’t truly understand what that entails and therefore can’t deliver a vision.

HipHopCanada: What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? What do we need to do better?

Kieran Khan: We are staying in our lane and creating our sound, our feel, our mode in this music game – that’s what we are doing right. Back in the day, we tried to mimic everything the Americans did, but now, I feel it’s the opposite with all the heavy hitters this city is creating. What we need to work on is killing all the fake support. We need to be open and share real feedback — tell your fellow artists if their track is shit, promote showcases like it’s your own, purchase singles they drop, post that shit up on all your socials, collaborate with each other more. We need to open the vault in our minds and motivate each other. We have to INVEST in each other.

HipHopCanada: What advice do you have for artists when choosing a director/videographer to work with?

Kieran Khan: Budget is a major thing. However, never allow that to be the deciding factor, it’s the easiest way to make sure your vision DOES NOT come to life. Speak to your director and make sure he understands your vision and feels the vibe.

HipHopCanda: What advice do you have for directors/videographers when deciding whether or not to work with an artist?

Kieran Khan: Stop hoeing yourself out for next to nothing and watering down your worth for a craft that’s fuelling the industry. There is nothing wrong with aiding an artist that has a dope track you believe will take off, but may not have a big budget. Understand your worth, play your role in allowing the industry to evolve, and respect the artists who invest in you no matter how big or small they are. Let me give you an example. Recently, I got a gig for $15,000 USD. The day before we started the project I got a call saying they located someone to do it for much lower. Now, I can reassure you it wasn’t because I was overpricing, it was the opposite, whomever they got to do the job didn’t know his worth and value.

HipHopCanada: How can artists UP their music video game?

Kieran Khan: Be forward thinking, stop following the trends, create your own identity and like my dude Mannie Fresh said recently in an interview, “it’s better to be Kevin [in a world of] Young whoevers or Lil whoevers.”

You can follow @KieranKhanProduction on Instagram.

More from Unplugged

Maricel was the host of HipHopCanada's "The Narrative Of..." and "Unplugged" series. She focused on sharing timely feature stories and thought-leadership content – the kind of stories that make you think, change and challenge perceptions, and provide valuable industry and culture-related information. Maricel covered select artist interviews, select music/video releases, events, as well as industry and culture trends and news.

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