Yet, for the last several years, the medium has been thriving on the Internet. And LAMAR+NIK — two twenty-somethings from Oklahoma City — are arguably the scene’s fastest rising talents.
“I feel like there are two different types of filmmakers: people who want to make artistic stuff and people who want to make money,” Jesse Lamar High, the “LAMAR” in LAMAR+NIK, said. “It feels so much more gratifying when you’ve made something that you put a lot of work into.”
High and longtime friend Nik Harper had no formal training prior to directing their first video. In fact, after being sidelined with injuries, they both got their start by filming their friends skateboarding as teens in OKC.
High, 24, is currently studying broadcasting and electronic media at The University of Oklahoma, while 23-year-old Harper — who recently relocated to Seattle — learned much of what he knows from his father. Despite the differences in background, their collaborative creative process lends to cohesion in their work.
“I feel like we have different strengths in different areas, and that ends up working to our advantage. But for the most part, we’re pretty much both there on everything,” Harper said. “From the outside, if someone was to look at our work, they’d probably say we have a DIY style, but we’re going to keep on surprising people.”
LAMAR+NIK (all caps, no spaces, as they prefer) have directed videos for everyone from local folk darling Samantha Crain and experimental hip-hop producer Lushlife to alternative legends Pixies, who enlisted the duo for “Bagboy,” their first single in nearly a decade, and their subsequent release, “Indie Cindy.”
Both High and Harper take pride in the diversity of their musical palette, which is reflected in the tone of their art.
“When we release a video, we don’t want you to have an expectation. With our track record, they’ve never been the same type of video at all, which gives people something to look forward to rather than the typical,” High said. “When we receive super-intense guidelines (from an artist), we usually pass on it. When there’s no room for creativity, there’s no room for us.”
LAMAR+NIK’s creativity-first approach continues to garner work from some of the fastest-rising names in the industry and even, most recently, a UK Music Video Awards nomination (for Lushlife’s “Magnolia”). As such, the duo continues to carve out an ever-burgeoning creative legacy in what is a continually evolving art form.
“If you make a normal music video, it’s just going to blend into the rest and nobody’s going to care,” Harper said. “We want to make something that actually lasts — something you’re going to watch a couple years from now and still be like, ‘Yeah, that’s a really good idea.’”