Sondela Video: Behind The Scenes & Valee Music Interview
On Sunday 6th September 2020, I had the pleasure of being a lead stylist on set for Afro-pop star Valee Music’s new Sondela video. Shot by Lutch Media, it was an honour to be part of this shoot. In this blog post, I share the day in the life of a fashion stylist on a behind the scenes music video set.
Preparation for the Sondela Video Shoot
Before the video shoot day, the client, Valee music, and I planned a mood board to get a better idea of the type of wardrobe we would use for the music video. We discussed the different scenes and the type of mood the video was going for.
The Day Of The Sondela Video Shoot
I traveled from North to South East London to get to the shoot by midday. Once I arrived at the set, which was at a 70s inspired building, I was thrilled to get on board. The setting of the shoot had fascinating retro props, and iron metal windows, which enhanced the vintage vibe.
But although the set was retro, the whole team on the video shoot was anything but this! It was full of young black excellence. I was actually the oldest there! The overall buzz and energy carried throughout the day. It was a pleasure to be a part of.
All team members came prepared and set up their work station on the shoot.
I was the lead fashion stylist for Valee Music and the dancer Isabelle Ouattara on set. My fashion stylist, Shereena John, supported me on the day. She helped me with all the MamMaw designs on the models in the shoot and prepped all the looks for the different scenes on the clothing rails.
Singer Charlie Kay is also featured in the Sondela music video and was styled by men’s stylist, Jo Conteh. All stylists on this day were UK based.
A common occurrence in fashion stylist jobs is that the makeup tends to take the longest. So, the makeup was done first by MUA, Jade, on all those who would be filmed on camera. Then, we as the stylists would then style the artists.
On video shoots, you can also expect the song for the video to be repeated throughout the day which helped us get in the zone. I can now proudly say I now know all the lyrics to Sondela, thanks to this shoot!
There were four different scenes throughout the music video.
The Tropical Garden Scene
This scene oozes nature vibes, through its decoration of deck chairs and plants. We first planned to style Valee in MamMaw’s Makemba Maxi African Dress. But it was decided, last minute, to switch to a different outfit.
Last minute changes can sometimes happen at shoots and so it’s important for stylists to be adaptable to this change. The talented dancer, Isabelle also shot in this scene. We styled her in an orange off-shoulder top with a flowing consistency to complement her dance moves and shorts to match.
Ankara Print Backdrop Scene
The backdrop of this scene was decorated in a collage of Ankara print fabrics. I brought about 77 yards of different types of these fabrics to create this backdrop. This scene ended up being my favourite one in the video because of the dramatic mood it brought. I’m mesmerised by how fabric, which may on the surface seem so subtle, can actually have such a profound impact.
I chose to style Valee in the Fuchsia Makemba dress in this scene. The one we had planned to use in the tropical garden scene initially. Admittedly, this was risky because there was a possibility that it could clash with the Ankara print background. But thankfully, it worked out!
The Car Scene
In the mood board prior to the shoot, Valee wanted a raunchy sort of look for this scene. A shiny red Ford Capri Car from the 1970’s was hired for this scene. My uncle had this car back in the day, so it gave me major throwback vibes.
The model of this particular car was a remarkable shape and the engine purred smoothly like a satisfied cat. You could tell it had been maintained really well.
For styling in this scene, I chose the navy and yellow co-ord bralette set with shorts. The aim was to have Valee make a bold statement in this scene through her attire. We also styled her with a South African Necklace and Red Love Yaa Yaa belt to fit in with the raunchier look that she requested for this scene. Finally, we topped this off with red thigh-high boots.
In our styling choices, we also made sure to consider the car and that the accessories were fitting to this also.
The Bedroom Scene
This scene is another example of why stylists need to think fast on their feet at shoots! We were initially planning to dress Valee Music in a Kente print bralette from MamMaw’s new collection. But as we already had an Ankara print bralette in the car scene, we decided to go with a plain version instead.
The vision of our fashion styling was to make each scene look unique. And so, we made the necessary shifts in order to achieve this goal.
Summary of the Sondela Video Shoot
Throughout the day, stylists were always on deck to check that those in the video always looked on point! We were also available to correct any challenges that arose like broken zips, or even buttons popping off! One of the shoes broke on set, so we used our craftsmanship skills and fixed it with the three simple tools of a needle, thread, and pin.
We finally finished the shoot around midnight. It was a great day and honour to act as lead stylist on. Following this shoot, I had the pleasure of interviewing the talented Afro pop singer herself. In this Q&A, Valee Music shares her journey to becoming a music artist and inspiration behind the Sondela video.
Valee Music Q&A
1. How long have you been singing/ song writing?
I’ve been singing from the age of 6. I was a member of a Gospel choir and started pursuing music professionally about 3 years ago.
2. What does Sondela mean in English?
Sondela basically means ‘come closer’ in Zulu and Ndebele which are southern African languages from where my heritage is from, Zimbabwe.
3. What is the song about?
The song is about my past experience. But I also think it’s relatable to a lot of people. It talks about two people who are falling in love and there’s a mix of fear, anxiety, and excitement, and everything else that comes with a new relationship. It’s also a song that speaks about freedom for one to leave the past in the past and only bring themself to the new relationship.
It’s a beautiful song and love story sung by both myself and Charlie Kay, who I collaborated with. The duet is from two perspectives about falling in love again.
4. Talk about some or one of your biggest musical achievements that you are proud of
I feel incredibly blessed to be in the music industry and to be living my childhood dream. I feel like I’ve achieved quite a few milestones. From being on BBC Africa to being the opening act at Zimfest, which has about 5000 attendees, to even being on TraceTV, MTV, and being included in Beyonce’s Black is King credits!
Right now, my song Sondela is playing in 11 countries from my hometown in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, to places like New York City, Canada, and, of course, right here in London! I couldn’t be more proud!
5. What Is Your Favourite MamMaw Look From The Shoot?
I love MamMaw fashion. Period! Each style is unique and modern, yet elegant. Every fabric tells a story. Shantel styled my video shoot and was so professional and understood my vision. That’s why she was such a pleasure to work with! People keep asking me who I was wearing in the video and I can’t blame them, haha!
My favourite piece in the video was the two-piece matching bralette and shorts that I wore in the car scene and on the chair. I love it because I feel it represented my brand very well and I can also wear it on stage! I felt sexy and confident and it also made me feel like a modern African woman.
Although I love my African culture, I’ve had so much more influence through growing up in London too. And that outfit, for me, embodies that. I would love to wear it again!
6. Do You Have Any Upcoming Projects?
My team and I are still pushing Sondela! The video is being played across Africa and on some of our Sky TV channels like BEN and Vox Africa. We are also almost at half a million views on YouTube and I couldn’t be more excited about that!
I have one more project planned before the end of the year… I’m diving into a slightly new genre, so please watch this space! I’m sure you’ll love it!
7. Where can we find you on social media and download your music?
I appreciate all of your support! To see more of what’s next for me and my music, please follow me on all the platforms below. And don’t forget to share!
Spotify: Valee Music
YouTube: Valee Music
To Stream My music: (Amazon/ Apple/iTunes etc.): https://songwhip.com/valee-music/sondela