Music

The Story Behind the Music Video for One of 2020’s Most Emotive Offerings, “I Fell in Love”

Photo: Stillz, "I Fell in Love" Video

“There’s a light we carry/Even in the dark,” Xenia Rubinos sings on “I Fell in Love” with Helado Negro. It’s an eight-word synopsis of the song and an accurate description of the tension that comes with the tizzy of romantic love. The duo released the Stillz-directed video for their dreamy track this week and it’s a visual experience as pleasantly dizzying as the emotions Rubinos and Lange capture.

“Thank the trees for breathing air with us,” Helado (born Roberto Lange) tells listeners in a note attached to the visualizer. And after that? “Find a bird with your ears singing a song that you know.”

For some, “I Fell In Love” is just that song. Since its release via Adult Swim’s Singles series in April, the synth-folk track has served as a sonic embrace at a time when we have few ways of cocooning ourselves in warmth. The single is an ode to love, and a crack at defining such an ambiguous feeling. It does so by acknowledging love’s complexity and how it can make us feel at home and completely foreign all at once. Lyrically, Lange and Rubinos seem to understand that neither the 67 or so words written for this track—nor the thousands in the countless books dedicated to the emotion—will ever properly elucidate what it means to be in love. The feeling, though, is captured in the music.

Similar to songs like “Pais Nublado” and “Two Lucky,” Lange’s effortlessly healing energy chips at our calloused yet tendered souls as we listen. The video takes that sensory experience a step further.

“I connected with this song just like I connected with every one of his songs,” Stillz, 21-year-old Colombian photographer, videographer (“Un Dia,” “Vete”) and creative director of Bad Bunny, tells Remezcla. “I was a really big fan of his and reached out to him a while ago.”

“I discovered Roberto’s music while on tour with Bad Bunny. His little brother would play Helado Negro when we traveled,” he shares. “From the moment I first heard his music, I really fell in love with the sound. I’m afraid of flying so I can never sleep on planes. But when I first started listening to his music, it would help me calm down and fall asleep, that’s when I really knew there was something special to his sound.”

Their link, though perhaps unexpected, was a long time coming. The two, now friends, connected last year and Stillz’s been scheming ever since. Stillz directed Bad Bunny’s astronaut-themed video for “Una Vez” back in September and, even then, he says Helado Negro’s work had been inspiring him.

I knew there was something special to his sound.

“Nobody knows but I actually had [written] the idea for that video for Benito’s video to a song for Roberto,” Stillz tells us. Such a statement makes full sense when rewatching “Una Vez.”

The video for “I Fell In Love,” a love project all its own, was a group effort. Similar to the way Lange melds together audio recordings from his phone and that of loved ones on trippy tracks like “My Name Is for My Friends” in This Is How You Smile, Stillz crowdsourced images from friends and did the work to evoke a feeling.

Screengrab from “I Fell In Love,” performed by Helado Negro and Xenia Rubinos, directed by Stillz

The result is a loosely tethered, visually distorted narrative that unfolds through a split-screen. The right side features portraits and perspectives from people around the world, many of which were taken on the director’s own phone and 16mm in Japan. On the left, Rubinos and Lange perform separately; those scenes were “shot on VHS and then distorted using this special little box that messes up the wiring in old TVs to create those weird analog distortions,” Stillz explains.

Like Lange, Stillz is keen on making the complicated seem effortless and, like his counterpart, he succeeds brilliantly here. Stillz’s eye—as is evident in his instantly recognizable polaroid shots—is singular.

“Everyone involved was generous with their time and gracious throughout all the turbulent hurdles that presented themselves this year,” Lange said in a statement. “I hope these light and sound frequencies find and harmonize with you today and more.”