Xenia Ghali Shares Memories of "Places" in an iEDM Exclusive Interview
Xenia Ghali never fails to leave an impression.
Ghali, the charismatic and charming Greek producer, is known for being a true inspiration to young girls who want to chase their dreams in the music industry. She first reached number 1 on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart for "Under These Lights," through her label, Funky Sheep Records.
In Ghali's case, lightning didn't strike just one time.
The producer hit the jackpot yet again with her hit, "Places." The thought-provoking song made it her second consecutive number 1 for Billboard. It shouldn't surprise EDM fans that Ghali winds up on top--her dedication to being the best at her craft always shows in her work.
The dazzling, chart-topping, and self-taught DJ spoke to iEDM in an exclusive interview when she was in New York to discuss her experience shooting the mesmerizing music video for "Places."
"I never release music expecting something. I release music because it is truly something that I love. I always hope that people enjoy it and relate to it, more than anything. To my huge surprise, 'Places' ended up hitting number one on Billboard," Ghali candidly told iEDM.
She continued, "People are still enjoying it. It was pretty nerve-racking, to be honest. Once you have accomplished something, and you see that the second single is creeping up to the top of the charts--you are always nervous about potentially not being able to match up to the previous song's success. It's just a human feeling."
"Places" features Raquel Castro, a former contestant on 'The Voice.' The singer left a strong impression with fans as a member of Christina Aguilera's team. She continued to gain notoriety on the hit television show, 'Empire.' Castro was the perfect choice for Ghali's hit single.
Ghali gushed that she felt very fortunate to experience the rush of success again. "It granted me the amazing honor of having a second Billboard #1 record which is incredible," said Ghali. The DJ went on to explain how shooting the music video for "Places" was unlike anything she had done before. She stated, "It was awesome because up until that point, any video that I did was shot in Greece for various reasons. Primarily, because my resources and my team is based in Greece. Obviously, it is much easier to shoot there and to use all of my resources."
The Billboard chart-topper changed up her usual routine because she received the golden opportunity to work with an in-demand MTV heartthrob. She explained, "Ryan Kelley, the actor who was in Teen Wolf--he was going to co-star in the video. Obviously, it made much more sense to shoot in New York. It was my first experience shooting a video in New York City!"
"It was so different. Everything. The type of process that goes on here is very different from shooting in Greece. In Greece, things are explosive. Everything is boom, boom, boom," Ghali stressed.
"Here, it is much more laid out, organized, and tested. That is the United States in general and that is very different from Greek culture. Greek culture is very much more in the moment where things just happen in the last minute. It all comes together. Here, things are pre-planned and that is more my cup of tea, to be honest. That is how I like to work."
Through her meticulous planning, Ghali recently made history this summer by headlining the vibrant Colour Day festival in the country she was raised in. It was a homecoming for the ages. In addition, she headlined two other festivals during her action-packed summer tour.
"I'm a much more organized person which is interesting because I'm Greek," she grinned. "Greece is an incredible place to be during the summer season, by the way. Come during the summer! It's a lot of fun," she advised to those who are making travel plans for 2018. It's never too early to get the party started just right.
The DJ made sure her team who worked on "Places" got their much deserved props. Ghali stated, "The entire crew was amazing. We decided that we wanted to have the concept to take this character to all these places because that is what the song refers to. We also wanted it to include a lot of movement because it's not only a dance song. Movement describes different emotions and personas."
If "Places" looks like a unique music video, that's because it is. "We used stop motion in this video. Stop motion is usually a technique used in animation. The reason why it's mainly used in animation is because it's incredibly difficult to get a human being to shoot all those mirco-frames and keep the same expression. It is incredibly difficult to control a human compared to a puppet," Ghali noted.
One thing that was out of Ghali's control was the weather. The crew had a tough challenge on their hands. Mother Nature was not on their side during the filming of Ghali's epic music video. "Of course, with our luck, it was the two coldest days of the month when we shot the video. The day prior to the shoot and the day after the shoot...it was warm! When we were shooting, it was snowing. We tried using hand warmers but they would freeze. What was touching, was that everyone involved in the video committed to it fully and didn't complain for a single second," said the thankful DJ.
The entire team powered through the tough circumstances. Ghali was very much involved in the editing process, being the creative director of all her previous videos. "Nobody was whining or aggravated about the really hard circumstances. It's not easy to shoot from 6 AM in the morning to 10 PM, outdoors. During the color correction, I was sitting there with the color correction guy editing our hands because our hands were blue in comparison to our faces," she exclaimed. Ghali continued, "That gives you an idea of how cold we all were. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone because it's a tough thing to go through. Blue hands are not a pretty sight to behold!"
The DJ told iEDM that getting the end result for "Places" was worth the blue hands and all of the snow that came with it. "We pulled it off and it is something we are all very proud of. The video is very different from the things I have done in the past. It's much more fun, fresh, young and urban. It combines fashion. It combines street. It combines young love. I'm much more relatable in the video," Ghali said. She elaborated, "You are used to me being more eccentric in other videos. 'Places' is a relatable song. It's sexy, fun, and young. I wanted that to be the same aesthetic in the video. The entire cast was filled with young kids. It's fresh talent. Ryan is an incredibly talented actor. We had a really great team of fresh talent who were in it for the love, just working very hard."
The hard work paid off. EDM fans are still trying to figure out the meaning of the song months after the music video dropped. Ghali shared a couple of theories that have come her way. "I want people to take something away from it and interpret it in their own way. Certain people feel that 'Places' is a song about love and you take this person to all these places. Other people will take it in a more sexual and fun way. For me, that is where I have succeeded in what I have done. Let people think. It's food for thought," she said.
There is a reason why the hit maker is always on the move. She can't help herself.
"When am I not busy, that is the real question! I feel like the second I am not busy, something seriously wrong is going to happen. I don't wish that on myself," Ghali laughed.
Besides killing it in the music industry, Ghali recently took part in the Adidas Superstar shoe campaign. She rocks the fly shoes while looking fresh to death.
There's never a dull moment for Ghali, who always manages to stay incredibly active. The DJ is getting ready to release a hot new record for Sirup Music. Ghali stated, "I'm in the studio. I never stop making music. I'm working on a lot of new music both for radio singles and underground material for clubs. That is what I'm doing now and for the months to come."
When asked how she keeps building momentum, Ghali had one last thing to say.
"My mind works weirdly. I like the word weird. It makes me sound cooler," she winked.
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