American Beau Interviews Karmaloop TV’s Shomi Patwary


What made you want to get into film production/directing, was it a childhood hobby of yours? Explain your choice to attend Old Dominion and why computer science was your major.

Film was definitely a childhood hobby of mine, I used to make stop motion movies with action figures since I first got my hands on a VHS camera. I was always fascinated with creating art that would involve user engagement. ODU had a great computer science program and object oriented programming gave me the fundamentals to create interactive art.

Growing up, were you always a hip-hop head? What about it did you favor?

I had various musical phases growing up, the first artist to ever make me like music was Michael Jackson, I remember my cousins would make me do dance moves like MJ at age 5. I had a very large family growing up, all 50 of my cousins would spend a great deal of time at my eldest uncle’s who had this huge modern Japanese style house. It felt like the Royal Tenanbuams, my cousins’ ages ranged from 5 to 30, all with different tastes in music. My older cousins would be into new wave like New Order, Pet Shop Boys, and Depche Mode and my younger cousins would be into hip-hop like Kris Kross, ONYX, and Wu-Tang. New wave music would put me in a cheerful mindstate but I always found the raw gritty elements of hip-hop very appealing.

What other video directors are you inspired by, for ex: Hype Williams or maybe Jonas Akerlund? What s’ work are you impressed by?

You hit it right on the nail with examples like Hype and Jonas! My favorite directors in mid 90s during my high school years were: Hype Williams, Jonas Akerlund, Spike Jonze, Samuel Bayer, Dayton and Faris. The first time I ever saw music videos for Busta Rhymes’ ‘Woo Ha’ and “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” my head exploded. I was also in my electronica phase around then and I thought Prodigy’s ‘Smack By Bitch Up’ shot by Jonas was really brilliant and controversial. Dayton and Faris’ music video for Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Tonight, Tonight’ was a beautiful video and it inspired my treatment for Lupe’s “I’m Beaming” video.  

Explain your motivation behind the making of Illusive Media. What was your original plan for it’s creation?

Illusive Media was originally an independent record label, I was inspired to produce beats by The Neptunes from my hometown of Virginia Beach. I worked very closely as an A&R to media management with Nickelus-F in the beginning stages and eventually that attracted Drake to come around my circle. Magoo (Timbaland and Magoo) used to manage Nickelus-F and I and convinced me I was better off using my talents to create a multimedia agency. Having a multimedia agency, I was still in the music world and worked on several projects for The Neptunes’ Star Trak label.

I see you also manage up-and-coming music production team VERY RVRE. What about their work made you want to represent them? Do you ever find yourself too busy given that you’re a director, A&R, and manager?

My brother Tashfiq Patwary is TVSH P, one-third of VERY RVRE, he has been around the music industry since he was 13 and we are 7 years apart. My brother has always been a very charming kid, he was never interested in producing till a year ago. Tash was always cool around well known artists and Pusha-T, N-E-R-D, and Fam-Lay enjoyed his company without any musical involvement. I have to admit that I am too busy to be doing everything, but part of my appeal to my clients is the great network around me outside of my directing gigs. I am the A&R that no one knows about, I’ve helped Drake out early in his career, got him a collaboration with No Malice of the Clipse. I discovered Mansions on the Moon and got Diplo and DJ Benzi to mix ‘Paradise Falls’ as a favor. I connected Stalley with Chad Hugo of The Neptunes and they’ve collaborated on several tracks because of it.

Explain how you connected with Pusha T/Clipse, which I’m sure was pretty easy given that you guys are both based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia and I’ve read that you know Pharrell and the Star Trak Family.

I connected with Pusha-T through Doug Dozier aka Doug Life who has been friends and creative partners with N-E-R-D since their garage band days. I met Doug at a show that Nickelus-F was performing at in VA Beach. Doug loved what I was doing for Nick and introduced me to the whole Star Trak family.

On your Wikipedia page, it states that you have a reputation for shooting and editing on the fly. What is your motivation for this style of editing? Do you believe it gives the video a more natural/organic feel?

I have a reputation for shooting and editing on the fly because the music business is moving and evolving so fast. The faster you get the visual out, the faster the artist is able to spread his music and presence to the masses. Almost 90% of the artists I work with are folks I’m cool with, none of them feel like they are hard at work when I direct their music videos. The artists I work with never feel alienated, the visual style I present them with is different every time and fits them organically.

A$AP Ferg’s “Work” video is a personal favorite of mine. I know all the Mob members have a very hands-on approach in every aspect of their careers so what was Ferg’s vision for the video? The video concept, props, and locations were highly unusual.

I met A$AP Ferg through my brother, Ferg wasn’t even interested in getting music videos shot by me at first. He wanted us to develop a good relationship because he really wanted to make sure we were all on the same page with my brother on a business end. My job as one of the creative directors at KarmaloopTV brought me to NYC, it allowed me to sponsor Ferg’s work video. Ferg and his brother / manager SO scouted all the locations. We broke into an abandoned school yard in Harlem for the main location. I was the one to come up with using powder for all the scenes, the powder was meant to emulate snow and cocaine at the same time, it aesthetically fit the mountain of salt he rapped on. None of the concept was really written out, we went to different locations, Thuan Tran, Ferg and I just came up random with ideas on the spot.

I must commend you on your work with the Music for Relief because of  the extraordinary amount of money your team raised for the Haitian Earthquake victims. What was the most gratifying part of helping out with the relief efforts?

I have always been a fan of Lupe Fiasco, we used to message each other on Myspace and talk about working together one day. Kenna from Star Trak worked with me for years and was also friends with Lupe Fiasco and Mike Shinoda. I remember when the earthquakes happened, Kenna had just gotten back from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise awareness for clean-water in Africa. Kenna is very philanthropic minded, he immediately hit the studio after his climb and collaborated with Lupe and Mike Shinoda to record “Resurrection”. Kenna allowed me to get involved by directing the visuals with a my long time FX collaborator Robert Simmons. We locked ourselves in my office, snowed in for an entire week and knocked the project out for free. I felt good to see the music video touch hearts and keep the momentum going for helping the people of Haiti. Lupe was so impressed with everything that came out of that situation, he wanted me to direct the “I’m Beaming” music video right after that.

Our past couple of interviews have been with producers that have worked with numerous New New York rap acts (Bodega BAMZ, Flatbush Zombies, A$AP Mob, and ProEra). What is your opinion of the movement given that you worked with all the main artists that represent this new hip-hop collective?

I grew up on gritty East Coast hip-hop as a child, it really makes me happy that my involvement is able further visibility and presence for this “New New York” movement.

Karmaloop TV is steadily on the rise given the increasingly wide range of videos you guys have directed in the past year. How did your partnership with Karmaloop come about and how big of a part did you play in building the brand’s current reputation?

I was brought into Karmaloop TV by another Virgina native known as @LILINTERNET, I used to run into him at parties in Norfolk, Virginia. He helped create Karmaloop TV about 6 years ago, one day he hit me up on Twitter and told me that he wanted to get me involved with everything they were doing in NYC. I started out by having an Illusive Media channel on KTV, which caught everyone’s attention including the CEO of Karmaloop, Greg Selkoe. Six months after having launched my Illusive Media channel with KTV, I moved to NYC and was brought in as one of the creative directors for the brand. I was able to bring original exclusive music video projects to KTV with all my personal connections.

When was your first, “Mama I made it” moment? Which video of yours was the most fun to create and be apart of? Why?

My first “Mama I made it” moment was when I saw the music video I directed for Skillz featuring Freeway premiere on MTV Jams. I shot the video on a Panasonic HVX at a time when MTV was mostly known for showcasing big budget videos on film. I thought it was just going to be a Youtube release, I did not anticipate an MTV airing at all.

How have you grown in your production styles and techniques since you’ve first came onto the major label scene in the mid-2000’s? Do you still find the job rewarding if so, is it more rewarding today?

In the mid-2000s it was all about hustling gig to gig, the gigs paid about 10xs more because the music industry was at such a different place. In the mid-2000s you had budgets for big crews but I always kept a small circle of people around my production. I’ve always been very hands on with most of my production, I’m used to being the director, cinematographer, editor, colorist, producer all at once. Being at Karmaloop allows me to not worry about hustling from gig to gig, we get sponsors that collaborate with the label to fund the videos. I am able to work with a small but solid hard working team of cinematographers, VFX, and marketing guys. I still find the job rewarding because now I am able to select artists that I enjoy, some of which are on the come up, and I get sponsors to help fund a great vision.

Lastly, what can we expect from the Illusive Media and Karmaloop TV team in the near future?

We are going to even take it further this summer with the our new GURU blog that is about to launch. GURU will be a lifestyle blog from the perspective of the creators and not just the curators. You are going to get insight on fashion, music, and film directly from the people who create and not just curate.

4 thoughts on “American Beau Interviews Karmaloop TV’s Shomi Patwary

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