Film & TV

Sophie Muller Is the Legendary Director Behind Your Favorite Music Videos

Not everyone can get Gwen Stefani and the notoriously private Sade to sing their praises.
Reading time 3 minutes

In the male-dominated world of music video directors, it is, in fact, a woman that has lead the aesthetics of pop for decades. From Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” to No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” from The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” to Selena Gomez’s “Good for You,” Sophie Muller has brought her fantastical sense of creativity to countless iconic works for Beyoncé, Annie Lennox, Blur, Garbage, and more throughout her 36-year-long career. 

It all started with watching The Sound of Music (“Oh my god, it’s amazing.”) and listening to Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love. “[That] record, to me, was quite experimental…and it was very beautiful, and she was in charge, and she’s a woman, and she produced it, and wrote it, and sang it,” says Muller. 

 

"I've always admired that Sophie has this unique ability to bring out an artist's true style and emotion."

—Gwen Stefani

Bush’s rule-breaking was influential during Muller’s time at both Central Saint Martins and then the Royal College of Art, where she earned her master’s in Film and Television. In school, Muller bucked conformity, too. “I was the weird artsy one. I didn’t make films that they were talking about. I experimented with film. The first video I did was this Eurythmics song called ‘I Need a Man.’ When I look at it now, it was pretty radical,” she says. 

As weird as she was, Muller found kindred spirits among her classmates, including the incomparable Sade. “[Sophie and I] met at Saint Martins in London in our late teens. We used to hang out in the library and write abstract poems,” says the singer. “By the time I’d made my second album, Sophie was directing videos, so we made ‘Love Is Stronger Than Pride.’ Sophie hired a car and the two of us drove out to Zuma Beach for a recce. As we drove west there was the most brilliant sunset we had ever seen. The sky was on fire.”

 

"Sophie is somebody who finds beauty in everything. Anywhere she goes is always the best place she's ever been because that's what she makes it."

—Sade

Intimate videos are something of a signature for Muller. Many of her early works in the late ’80s with Annie Lennox were done one-on-one, and so was Gwen Stefani’s touching “Used to Love You.” “Sophie shot it with just her and I, one camera in a dressing room—one take. It’s a perfect example of how Sophie is able to capture a raw and authentic moment and the true emotion of a song,” says Stefani. 

And what aesthetic rules does the prolific director follow? “I've never let blue get into things,” she states frankly. While she means the color, Sade sees it from a different perspective. “Sophie is somebody who finds beauty in everything. Anywhere she goes is always the best place she’s ever been because that’s what she makes it.”

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