Top Spot of the Week: Mischa Meyer Directs, Edits “Love Says” From Poet Sekou Andrews


Robert Goldrich
Thursday, Jun. 11, 2020


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With a nation fighting two pandemics--COVID-19 and racism--the world premiere of “Love Says” comes from poet Sekou Andrews. The third single and video from his GRAMMY® nominated album Sekou Andrews & The String Theory, “Love Says” is a powerful poem about the double-edged relationship between love and hate, and the need for the fight for freedom, justice and equality to be anchored in love.

The film was directed and edited by Spot Welders’ Mischa Meyer and shot by Maz Makhani. Optimist Inc. and AKKURAT Studios partnered on production and California Music’s Kristian Nord and Malte Hagemeister teamed with The String Theory’s PC Nackt, Ben Lauer, and Sebastian Gäbel. Andrews’ piece is meant for the victims, family and community members, and allies who are struggling to discern between the voice of rage screaming into their right ear, and the voice of love whispering into their left.

Hatred and injustice have been pandemics in America long before COVID-19 showed up. Both viruses have the potential to isolate people from each other, or bring them together in new ways. Both have the potential to suffocate hope or breathe life into change. Both are real. Both are making it harder to breathe these days. Both are desperate for a vaccine.

“While science scrambles for a vaccine for coronavirus, humanity has already been incubating the vaccine for the hatred virus. A scientific name for it may not exist, but the street name for it is ‘LOVE,’” said Andrews.

The timing and precognition of the poem and release of the film is haunting as Andrews shares this project was in the making prior to the nation’s current events. He explained, “I wish I could say I was inspired to write the piece by this latest act of racial violence that is setting our nation aflame. But, just as the knee of systemic racism has been asphyxiating black people long before the murder of George Floyd, this poem was inspired long before this moment.”

“It all started when Sekou and The String Theory recorded a song and a video in our studios last year,” added Toygar Bazarkaya, creative director of Optimist. “After hearing the powerful words of ‘Love Says,’ we knew we had to focus on exactly that--the words. Any film had to move aside and leave Sekou the stage to express them. It’s an exercise in restraint that left us with the words and the artist, literally.”

Director/editor Meyer shared, “We shot this in March and these topics were just as pressing back then as they have been for decades.  But now we’re really seeing that people have had enough with the injustice. We aspire for this piece to give people some guidance in where to look for answers and the hope that love conquers all.”

“That’s the crazy thing,” added California Music’s Malte Hagemeister. “We recorded this song a year ago. Then we shot this video the day before the lockdown hit L.A. But when George Floyd was killed and the streets were full of ‘I Can’t Breathe’ signs, we knew we had to finish it immediately.”

On creating the film Andrews explained, “Admittedly, I had to stop and think hard when deciding whether to partner with primarily white and European production partners and musical collaborators for a piece that was so connected to my black experience.”

Then Andrews re-read his own poem. He looked into the eyes and hearts of his fellow artists and saw brothers and sisters who were respectful of his unique experience and yet aware of their human connection to it.  And he searched the open palms of people who understood the consequences of hatred from their own perspectives. He found friends in that sacred cease-fire of space between African American, German, Swedish, Turkish, and other ethnicities and nationalities.   He also found hope in the poetry of an orchestra from Berlin and Sweden joining forces with an African American to fight injustice through art, as protesters from Berlin and Sweden joined those in Los Angeles to fight injustice against African Americans through activism.

“The collective that created this song and video with me is the living embodiment of the poem’s message,” said Andrews. “This poem is for the fighters. The ones who are fighting for love. The ones who are running toward the fight to stop it.”


Production Optimist Studios & AKKURAT Studios Production Toygar Bazarkaya, chief creative officer, design & art direction; Tom Holmberg, design & art direction; Mischa Meyer, director; Juergen Dold, Rocco Kopecny, exec producers; Maz Makhani, DP.  Optimist: Zac Blakeley, production director; Hugo Jacome, producer; Sam Hinkley, associate producer; Brooke Fansler, techncal director; Cameraon Brainard, studio director; Spencer Klinge, studio manager. Editorial Spot Welders Mischa Meyer, editor. VFX Shipping + Handling Jerry Spivack, lead compositor; Dustin Laforce, producer.  Projection VT Pro Vartan Tchekmedyian, CEO; Michael Fullman, CCO; Zac Layman, projection mapping; Michael Lee, producer; Art Perez, animation. Poetry by: Sekou Andrews Performer “Love Says” written and performed by Sekou Andrews & The String Theory Music The String Theory PC Nackt, Ben Lauber, composers/producers; Sebastian Gabel, producer. California Music Kristian Nord, Malte Hagemeister, producers. Special Thanks: Tino Schaedler, Rose Odeh

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