Meet Van Alpert, one of the most influential and divisive renegade artists in modern times.
For those unfamiliar, over the last five years, Van Alpert has been creating a name for himself. Not only as one of the hottest up-and-coming renegade graffiti artists but more importantly, as an auteur of modern music videos.
Working across a range of eclectic genres, Alpert has created audio-visual masterpieces for the likes of Post Malone, Machine Gun Kelly, Local Natives and Interpol. He may only have a few minutes to create an impression on screen, but Alpert makes every second count, cinematically and purposefully.
Over the last few years, the acclaimed Music Video director has gained over a billion views, broke new ground and even won awards for his work, but for Alpert, that’s not enough. Once and always, a driven individualist, Van is now in the midst of his first feature film directorial debut — “Skategoat”, scheduled to be released in 2023. “Skategoat” is a passion project the visual pioneer has been working on for the past decade, telling the story of prolific Venice Beach skater Leandre Sanders.
Van Alpert’s venture into various artistic endeavours has transformed this graffiti artist into a filmmaker that has proven himself influential and divisive in equal measure. His comprehensive approach to Music Videos has brought new life to the dying art with the artist becoming a renegade darling to all aspiring filmmakers.
Alpert has mastered all areas of pre and post-production, making him one of the most versatile visionaries in modern times. And if you’re in disagreement, you haven’t seen any of his work.
Success Is Never A Straight Line
Whilst studying acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, Alpert began experimenting with directing. Unable to keep up with the cost of living in the big city, Van landed a job at one of New York’s most exquisite Japanese restaurants, Nobu. A sleek, Armani-designed sushi restaurant that in a way, allowed Van to continue working on his craft as an actor. Every shift was more than just a payslip. It was an opportunity for Van to perform, transforming himself into different characters.
After raising enough funds from work and other creative ventures, Van decided to move to Cuba — a communist haven that for decades, had been producing cinematically auteurist films on shoe-string budgets.
Cuba had homed many up-and-coming modern Filleni’s that the Capitalist outside world would unfortunately never hear of. While most Americans would feel sick at the idea of visiting Cuba, Van knew of the potential well of knowledge and experience he could obtain as a young filmmaker with no funds.
Liberation In A Foreign Land
During his time in Cuba, Van Alpert landed his first real industry role as an Assistant Director for the 2008 Documentary ‘Havana Surf’. A film that focused on the youth in Cuba who were struggling to keep their passion for surfing alive after the embargo had prevented the import of surf supplies.
The story was something to which Alpert had related to. The embargo represented the nepotism in America, the Cuban youth, representing young aspiring artists and their struggle to make an impression in the modern art world. From that moment, Alpert knew it wasn’t enough to tell just a powerful story, it had to also be visually alluring and spellbinding to gain widespread attention. Create new from old.
Into the Sound
Van returned to America, now living in Los Angeles, where he would spend the next few years continuing his graffiti work. His Art exhibitions gained the attention of other up-and-coming left-field acts. The path ultimately led Alpert into the world of Music after being asked to make his directorial debut, for the rising talent Post Malone.
Post Malone- White Iverson
In 2015, Van Alpert made his Music Video debut for Post Malone’s track “White Iverson”. Written and Directed by Alpert, the Music Video would not only go on to introduce Malone to the world in a triumphant fashion but also become one of the most viewed pieces of work Alpert has produced to date with just under a billion views and 5.1 million likes.
Local Natives- When Am I Gonna Lose You
In 2019, Van found himself directing another music video for the rock band Local Natives. “When Am I Gonna Lose You” marked Alpert’s second venture into the Music world, starring Kate Mara and filmed in just one weekend.
Alpert upped the ante with another transgressive piece of art that critics described as Mulholland Drive crossed with The Graduate. If there were those skeptical, thinking “White Iverson” was a one-hit-wonder, Alpert had reinstated his potential with technical intricacy and finesse. Van had gone from just creating a music video to telling surreal and metaphorical stories in a short space of time. With excellently orchestrated costumes and lighting, Alpert created a mise-en-scene cut straight from a Lynch film.
Machine Gun Kelly- My Ex’s Best Friend
With Machine Gun Kelly moving away from Rap to Pop-punk with his 2020 album “Tickets To My Downfall”, it would seem that only a renegade director’s visual would fit the renegade move by MGK.
Alpert returned to the Music Video world again, writing and directing the music video for the lead single to Machine Gun Kelly’s upcoming album. The video went on to compete with “White Iverson” as Alpert’s most successful projects to date with the filmmaker winning the 2021 MTV VMA for Best Alternative Video
Interpol- Toni and Something Changed
This year, Alpert found himself committing to an ambitious and creative venture alongside New York band Interpol. With their seventh album “The Other Side of Make-Believe” releasing this year. Frontman Paul Banks had contacted Alpert personally after following his work the last few years. Banks and Alpert bonded over their shared film inspiration and classic music videos. Upon listening to the tracks in question,
“I wrote an idea that I felt was new for Interpol: a hyper-modern, cinematic dance film. A ‘Lover’s on the Run’ story, with a classic cliffhanger ending.”Alpert says ,
Alpert went on to create a two-part music video for two of the singles from Interpol’s upcoming album. “Toni” and “Something Changed”. The production combined themes of reality and reverie, in what is ultimately Van’s most ambitiously defiant music video to date. Border-lining fine art.
Part I- Toni
Part II- Something Changed
Collaborative Partnership x Grace Gaustad
Some of Alpert’s most impressive work would be that of the long-running creative partnership he shares with the LA-based singer and songwriter Grace Gaustad.
Grace Gaustad rose to fame through her YouTube cover of Hozier’s Take Me To Church. Receiving over 25 million views. Grace later went on to release her debut album ‘BLKBX: wht r u hiding’ in August 2021. Self-released by Gaustad.
Gaustad shared that the main inspiration behind the album was the adversity the singer had faced growing up part of the LGBTQ+ community. Often bullied and misunderstood, BLKBX is a creative tour-de-force that represents self-empowerment and being free from judgement and the pressures of modern society.
Gaustad would later go on to release her sophomore album PILLBX: what’s your fantasy in 2022.
Gaustad and Alpert formed an incredibly strong creative partnership during the period of the two albums being released with the duo producing a record-breaking 30 videos together. Said to be the unofficial Guinness World Record. With more collaborative work to come.
The stories and concepts behind the 30 videos were written and created by Gaustad herself, with Alpert at the helm.
The collaborative triumph takes viewers on an audio-visual trip that can only be described as an androgenic surreal adventure. Through colourful and stylistically flawless costumes and set designs, viewers are transported into an Alice in Wonderland meets LA setting.
The concept behind the PILLBX videos follows Gaustad as she tries multiple pill boxes that take the singer through alternate realities. experiencing new fantasies. Like Pandora’s box filled with LSD.
With a limited production budget, the duo create a ground-breaking and transgressive series that gives any top production a run for its money. Created through their shared passion for modern art, fashion, and existentialism. The duo create a series of immaculate music videos never seen before.
Outside of the music video world, Alpert has collaborated with fashion and sports brands such as Nike, Red Bull and even the likes of Kanye West.
Now on a more ambitious endeavour, Alpert remains working on “Skategoat”, his first feature documentary set to be released next year.
This is just the beginning for Van Alpert. Like Oscar-winning director Spike Jonze who came before him, starting their career in Music as well, will we see more features from Alpert? Only time will tell.