The video is an homage to the beautiful old Japanese city and a reflection of their love for Japanese culture and aesthetics.

Clean Bandit is a British electronica pop group known for their unique style that combines classical instruments with dance pop. Perhaps they’re most famous for their 2016 hit “Rockabye”, performed in collaboration with rapper Sean Paul and singer Anne-Marie, but they have had numerous hits over the last few years that have really brought them to international attention.

What brings them to our attention again is the fact that the group appears to be huge fans of Japan. Their latest single, “Solo feat. Demi Lovato” makes that very evident, as it has a special “Japan Edition” music video that was produced by an all-Japanese staff.

The video was filmed in Kyoto, and seems to take its aesthetic from traditional Japanese culture with its red, black, gold, and white color palette. There are two dancing characters who are the focus of the story: one in a red kimono and one in a black, modern outfit, and throughout the video you can see them mirroring each other at some points and clashing against each other at others.

According to the YouTube page, the video represents the “dichotomy of trying to breakaway your feelings and moving-on from your past with the inner-turmoil that comes along with it”. The black-clothed dancer represents the feeling of wanting to hang on, while the dancer in the kimono personifies the feeling of wanting to break away. The resulting dance between the two represents the emotional struggle many of us know well.

Though they might look like different people, both roles are brilliantly performed by Japanese dancer NANA, who is a member of the newly debuted dance duo MIKUNANA. The duo was formerly part of the quartet Kikirara, and have appeared in numerous other J-pop music videos. Though MIKU doesn’t appear in this video, NANA holds her own with a really moving performance.

Clean Bandit’s official video of “Solo” seems to have a similar message as the Japan Edition, but it’s portrayed in a very different way, and thus can be interpreted a little differently. It’s clear that Clean Bandit had a lot to say with this song, but that isn’t the only reason why the Japan Edition was created. According to the YouTube page, the band just really wanted to express their love for the city of Kyoto.

▼ The Official Video for “Solo feat. Demi Lovato”

This isn’t the first time that the group has expressed their love for either Japan or Kyoto, either; their 2014 hit single “Rather Be” is an homage to Japan itself. Its music video was filmed in Tokyo, and the lyrics mention Kyoto explicitly.

▼ “With every step we take, Kyoto to The Bay | Strolling so casually | We’re different and the same, gave you another name | Switch up the batteries”

Thanks to their appreciation of Japan as well as their catchy tunes, Clean Bandit has already amassed a fair amount of Japanese fans, and their new Japan Edition of “Solo” is likely going to win over even more. Featuring quintessential scenes of Japanese beauty and serenity that clash with the quick movements and dramatic flourishes of a modern dancer, it’s already become popular among Japanese netizens. Japanese comments on the video sing of its praises:

“The furisode (long kimono sleeves) swing around so beautifully!”
“So this is what it looks like when someone does a modern dance wearing a kimono! I’ve never seen that before.”
I love the image of Japan that’s portrayed to foreigners.”
“The best!”
“It really matches up Japan’s past with its present, and doesn’t get in the way of the music or let the music get in its way. It’s really a fantastic production!”
“I started to like Clean Bandit after Rather Be, so I’m so happy to see them have another music video set in Japan!”

Fans of Kyoto will recognize a number of famous sites in the video, including Kyoto Tower, the Yasaka Pagoda, and Tofukuji Temple. See if you can spot them while you’re watching this beautiful homage to the ancient city!

Source: Japaaan Magazine
Images: YouTube/Clean Bandit