THE SIX is a regular interview feature on 206UP.COM with a simple format: One member of the local hip hop community and six questions. For past editions click here.
If you watch Seattle hip hop music videos with any regularity, then you already know Harry Clean’s work, even if you don’t really know Harry Clean’s work. That telltale piercing sound of glass shattering into a million high-definition shards adorns the intro to dozens of music videos branded with the Detooz Films logo, Harry’s production company.
Dude first hit the 206UP inbox in late 2010, eager as all hell to get his burgeoning collection of video interviews up on our humble outlet. Since then, his eye for sharp angles and smart concepts have blessed the videos for virtually every major name in Town rap. Harry is one of a few talented and innovative videographers lending their creative energies to Seattle hip hop — Zia Mohajerjasbi, Stephan Gray and Ryan Hills are a few others — but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone more prolific.
Thanks to Harry Clean for taking some time out to answer THE SIX.
206UP: How did you decide you wanted to get into video production and directing?
Harry Clean: In eighth grade, at Asa Mercer Middle School, I borrowed a camcorder from my friend’s dad and shot a mini documentary about the urban community in Seattle. It was the required final eighth grade project and I got an “A” just because I did a video and everyone else did Power Point and poster-board presentations. I think that was the beginning.
I used to watch and help my older cousins make random sets [for] photo shoots and I also used to be around people that robbed houses, and for some reason they always came up on cameras. So I pretty much started playing around with stolen cameras, bringing them around my neighborhood and to school [and] then I eventually got decent at using them. In high school, I used to bring my camera when it wasn’t “cool” and take hella pictures [and] post them on the internet. I started to get compliments for the photos which turned into cheap or free photography gigs for artists, models and conceited people around the Town.
I really didn’t start shooting high quality videos until like three years ago. Though I did have a cheap camcorder from Wal-Mart which got stolen out of my car — along with my car — during prom. With that camera I really just shot pre-Worldstarhiphop and Jackass[-type] footage in my environment; nothing significant. About three years ago, I made a decision [to sell] my busted-ass car and use my financial aid check from Seattle Central Community College to buy a quality HD camera. That’s when the Detooz Films thing started.
Was there a particular clip or director that really set the creative fire for you?
When I saw the “Home” video that my bro Zia directed for Jake One. I was like, “Oh shit!” Also, a friend of mine from high school named Jordan Nicholson inspired me from the beginning because we started doing the photography and design thing pretty much at the same time.
Talk about your process — do you typically develop the concepts for the videos, or does the artist usually come to you with an idea in mind?
I usually develop the majority of the concepts. Before shooting, I like to have a meeting with the artist to gather up references and for them to tell me what they expect to see in the video. Sometimes the artist might have somewhat of a vision for the video but not detailed or concrete and I just elaborate on it. Lately, for maybe a little over a year now, I’ve been asking the artist to send me their whole [album] so I can pick a song that I have a vision for. I’m getting spoiled.
Of all the videos for Town artists you’ve directed, which one was the most fun and why?
The “Molly Moons” video that I did for Brothers From Another, Geo and Thig Nat. The weather was good and we got free Molly Moons Ice Cream every time we shot.
The “Pho” video that I did for Sabzi. The weather was good and we got free Pho every time we shot.
You almost had a Worldstar moment in the first few seconds of your most recent video: “Money, Cars, Clothes” by rapper D Valley. Was that a real fight in the parking lot?
Yes, those were 100% authentic fiends.
If you could direct any artist in a music video, who would it be and why?
Alive: Kanye West (because everything he does is innovative); Jay Z (because he’s Hov); Kiss (because those mu’fuckas are crazy).
Dead: Kurt Cobain (because he’s a Town legend); Jimi Hendrix (because he’s a Town legend); Jean-Michel Basquiat and his band Gray (because Basquiat is that dude).