What brought Kelis to our back yard?

Thursday, 2nd September 2010


Published: 2 September, 2010

IN American pop music videos, divas are traditionally surrounded by the glitz of Los Angeles, the lights of New York or the liquid sunshine of Miami.

But now an unlikely locality is set to take its place among these iconic cities. 

When world-famous superstar Kelis cast around for a location for her latest video, she could think of no finer backdrop than the 1960s high-rises of Gospel Oak. 

The multi-platinum-selling R&B artist spent the whole of Tuesday in the area filming a “promo” video which is expected to include shots of the parts of the Wendling Estate and Bacton Tower. 

But she still had time to chat with residents, who described the chart singer of hits Milkshake, Trick Me and Caught Out There as “down to earth”.

The finished video for Scream, which shows Kelis in Gospel Oak

Devon Barrett, who works in Map, a café and record label in Grafton Road, said he was surprised to find such a big name in his street.

“You don’t really expect to come out of your house and see Jay-Z or someone like that with a whole film crew,” he said. “She was running on a treadmill and miming part of a song. It shows how much the Americans are embracing it over here and making it their home.”  

After filming next to the railway line at the junction of Grafton Road and Vicar’s Road for several hours, Kelis and her production crew went to nearby studios where they carried on working until the early hours of Wednesday.

But while passers-by did not expect to see the woman behind so many hit singles performing on their doorstep, others believe it is just another sign that an often maligned corner of Camden is actually coming up in the world.

Tom Townsend, who works in Grafton Road and saw the film crew set up, said the area had become attractive to figures from the music and fashion industries. 

“Spring Studios is just around the corner,” he said. “The photographer Rankin just moved here and Mr Hudson and N-Dubz are from here. There are more and more galleries opening.”

Campaigner Mick Farrant, who is a governor at Carlton Primary School in Grafton Road, said Gospel Oak could become as trendy as Hackney.

“There has been talk of revitalising the market and making it more like Broadway Market in east London,” he added. “I don’t want it to become boutiquified but it would be good to have more shops and food stalls. Things appear to be happening. An area should not be judged by its bricks and mortar but by the people who live and work there.”

Florist Lulu Mitchell, a former councillor for the area who lives in Wendling, said young people from the area would enjoy seeing the streets where they lived featured in a music video, adding: “If it’s tastefully done, shows the area in a good lens and is something that teenagers enjoy, then it is a positive thing.”

A spokeswoman for Universal Music Group, the parent company of Kelis’s record label will.i.am, said: “I can confirm Kelis was in Camden yesterday,” adding that the star was preparing for her headlining tour, which kicks off in London next month. “She loves London,” she said. “She visits whenever time permits.”

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