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The Making of Julian Winding’s New Music Video, “What’s My Body”

Danish composer Julian Winding is known for his killer dance-music contributions to his uncle Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon (“Demon Dance”) and Too Old To Die Young (“Summaasault). His blend of techno, electro, and other electronic genres is a bold sensory exploration. In advance of the Feb. 14 release of new EP Celsius, Winding has released the single “What’s My Body” and with it the downright wild music video directed by Greg Maziuk.

The backstory behind Maziuk’s creative relationship with Winding is fascinating. Last year Maziuk made a fantastic unofficial music video for Winding’s serpentine “It’s in the Basement.” He tried without success to get in touch with Winding to make it official, which was too bad because the richly staged video is perfect for the song. That would change soon enough with this new video that blends “What’s My Body” with some often horrifying but always captivating imagery.

Here’s Maziuk telling his story about how he finally connected with a musician that has inspired him to make compelling visual art — how he was able to make “What’s My Body” official:

The journey of this crazy little music video started in the summer of 2018, when I was coming up with the concept for my final project for film school. Music videos became a very exciting visual medium for me around that time but I didn’t know anyone in the music world of NYC, so I was looking to do a music video for an artist I didn’t know personally.

I’ve felt some kind of deep connection with Julian’s violently sexy music ever since first hearing it in The Neon Demon, and while listening to “It’s In The Basement” one night I started getting some strong visual ideas. Julian also seemed like a relatively approachable artist — he was really responsive to people commenting on social media, so I fleshed out a concept and sent the idea to him. He responded saying he would take a look at it, but that was the last I heard from him for nearly a year.

julian winding what's my body music video
A still from the music video for Julian Winding’s “What’s My Body,” directed by Greg Maziuk.

But I really believed in the concept and the ball was already rolling on making the project happen, so I went ahead and made the video without his knowledge. Several months later in March 2019, I sent over the finished video, unfortunately met with no response from Julian. I tried getting a hold of him or his label any way I could, but nobody gave me a response. So I went ahead and uploaded the video on my own, hoping some Julian fans might find it and enjoy it. It wasn’t until maybe three months later I finally got a response from Julian, it turns out he had been off of social media for six months and my timing was perfectly terrible. But he loved the video! So he asked if I’d do another video for his upcoming EP, which I was of course thrilled by.

“What’s My Body” instantly stuck out to me as my kind of violent music, so I got to work on a concept. I initially wanted to do something stylish and a little fashion-y, more in the vain of The Neon Demon, but because we had a tiny budget and had to fill seven minutes of song, making something shiny simply wasn’t possible.

Around that time I’d been fascinated with a YouTube channel by the name of “Yes Theory,” a channel centered around the idea of getting people (primarily strangers) out of their comfort zones and often surprising them with once in a lifetime experiences. A video that really stuck out to me was where they got a complete stranger to come with them on a road trip to Mexico, which is pretty fucking crazy.

julian winding what's my body
A still from the music video for Julian Winding’s “What’s My Body.”

What fascinated me the most is that the people who make the videos do so in the name of enriching other people’s lives, but ultimately they probably wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t getting attention for it online. This inevitable, underlying selfishness and narcissism of the YouTube community is what spawned the idea for “What’s My Body.” It was also very cheap to make, since the goal was to make the video look and feel like a real YouTube vlog. I also saw Cannibal Holocaust for the first time while writing the concept, which definitely heavily influenced the video.

The relationship between the song and the visuals was a bit of an experiment. There are plenty of music videos with dialogue in them, but very rarely to this extent. Luckily, Julian trusted me and gave me essentially full reign over the project — and I was confident in the idea — so I went ahead and shot the video.

what's my body julian winding music video
The music video for Julian Winding’s “What’s My Body” offers an onsalught of can’t-look-away visuals.

We went up to a lake house on an outrageously hot day with four incredible actors I met at NYU (one of whom produced “It’s in the Basement”) and shot pretty much all day and all night long. My “script” consisted mostly just of story beats, so all of the dialogue was improvised (except for the “I didn’t want her to bite my dick off” line — that was me) and most of the action was too, so we just shot as much as we could and hoped we got something good.

Ultimately, I’m really proud of how it turned out. My hope is that it’s a captivating piece of visual content, while also pushing the boundaries of what a music video can be. And I want to say a big thank you to Julian and the actors for trusting me with this idea. I don’t think any of us quite knew how these pieces would fit but it came together beautifully.

Celsius releases via KO Recordings on Feb. 14. You can pre-order it today via iTunes.

In addition to Winding’s presence on Refn’s film soundtracks, you can also find Winding’s electro cut “When You Want To Hurt Someone” on the Milan Records release of Nicolas Winding Refn Presents: The Wicked Die Young.

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