FEATURE: Jamilla – Bloom (Dir. Sakidasumi)

Perth nu-soul/RnB artist Jamilla has in the past had a complicated relationship with her identity, something she speaks quite candidly about: “As a black woman growing up in Australia, being a woman of colour has always been a huge part of my identity, whether I liked it or not. I’ve been lucky enough to experience very little individual racism in my life but cultural and institutional racism have both been a constant since I was a child.”

This conflicting association with being a woman of colour is sadly not an experience that is exclusive to Jamilla, and it is from this idea that her track ”Bloom” was born. As the brutally honest and empowering words of artist and activist Nina Simone echo over the opening synth chords of the song, the tone is very quickly set.

Jamilla explains: “Nina Simone is the whole reason “Bloom” exists. She redefined my idea of what it meant to be a woman, reminding me that European beauty standards were bullshit and making me feel powerful. And one day, whilst watching the interview sampled in Bloom, she gave me a voice to speak honestly about my experiences. I felt inspired and angry and ready. And so, I wrote “Bloom”.”

Jamilla – ‘Bloom’ (BTS photo by Sakidasumi)

Jamilla begins her song with a retelling of an experience, a man using her race against her, to reduce her to a taboo or a fetish. This allegory to the way women of colour have been talked about throughout history paints a very clear picture of why these women come to have such a strained relationship with their own identity.

From here Jamilla moves to detail the ways in which the tougher experiences of being a woman of colour are actually just bricks and mortar from which they build their incredible selves. This attitude is personified so powerfully in the line: “We will love and we’ll grow through concrete, through snow. We will grow in a dark room, no matter what you do, ‘cause black flowers they bloom.”

This uplifting spirit is carried through the song, which is something that was very important to Jamilla: “Ultimately, the song is hopeful. Being a black woman has been a blessing and taught me so much about the world and myself. I would not change it for anything and I know that no matter what, I will keep connecting, growing and blooming.”

Jamilla – ‘Bloom’ (BTS photo by Sakidasumi)

The video for “Bloom”, directed by Perth multifaceted artist Sakidasumi, depicts Jamilla and a cohort of women of colour dancing, supporting and celebrating each other. Sakidasumi elaborates on this approach: “Bloom was shot the way it is to convey themes of power in both individuality and numbers, and staying true to oneself.”

Sakidasumi continues: “There are a few shots in the music video that I personally think communicate these themes well. The first scene is where Emily (Jamilla) and the cast are in a studio and the girls behind her touch Emily as she starts to sing. This symbolises strength in numbers and that support is always behind you. I’d like to mention the shots where Emily is on the white horse – I absolutely live for these shots. The use of the high angle technique of Emily on the horse was perfect as it gave Emily so much power. Big shout out to my sister Bernice Jiang for filming! What an amazing talent she is.”

Jamilla – ‘Bloom’ (BTS photo by Sakidasumi)

There is radiating power and strength in the way this video is shot. All of the women exude confidence, both in themselves and each other, giving the video and the message so much gravity. Adding to this feeling of significance is the time given to each shot before a cut and the way that a great deal of the video is presented in slow-motion.

When asked about this choice, Sakidasumi replies: “Personally, I think the slow-motion technique is strong because the audience views the frame longer. This makes the audience analyse and appreciate what’s going on in the frame. Humans are always watching the world blur by, so to slow things down a little is unique for the eye to see. Emily and the whole cast deserved to be appreciated and celebrated for who they are so slow-motion was an essential technique. “Bloom” is also a song with a mild BPM, so to have fast moving shots wouldn’t compliment the audio as well.”

Jamilla – ‘Bloom’ (BTS photo by Sakidasumi)

The gravity of the situation around this video was not lost on Sakidasumi as she eagerly expressed such fondness and pride for the whole experience, saying: “Working on “Bloom” made me reflect on how proud I am to be a woman of colour. This whole project was created by females and I am honoured to be a part of it. Working on set I felt unity, respect, and comfort because I was surrounded by women of colour that could relate to the experiences of growing up in a dominant western culture.”

This was a sentiment echoed by Jamilla, who also had found the experience of putting this video together to be nothing short of amazing, saying: “For this music video, I got to spend a whole day celebrating the beauty of black women. It was cathartic and healing.”

Jamilla continues: “There was a beautiful loving feeling throughout the whole day of shooting, lots of respectful and intelligent discussions, celebrations of each other and “QUEEEEN!”s being yelled out when someone was doing a particularly beautiful shot. The first time I saw the finished music video I cried. It was one of those moments where I felt I was making the 8-year-old me and the 80-year-old me (the only people I should be concerned about impressing) proud.”

Jamilla – ‘Bloom’ (BTS photo by Sakidasumi)

“I had put together something that boldly celebrates the one thing I would have changed about myself when I was growing up. I had created something that would have helped me to accept myself earlier. That I wished I had seen when I was a teenager. And I hope it will help young black women to celebrate their beauty and discover self-love earlier than I did.”

Here is the official video for “Bloom”

Music Video Credits

Director: Sakidasumil. Filmed by: Bernice Jiang. Assisted by: Is Boogaerdt.

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