Toronto-native Julien Christian Lutz—better known as Director X— was just 19 years old when the thought of directing music videos first crossed his mind. His background in graphic design and love for comic books would give birth to this eureka moment, which was also inspired by the video for Graig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear (Remix)" directed by the legendary Hype Williams.
"When [Hype] came on the scene and started directing these really beautiful pieces of art for hip-hop, you could tell that [he] really understood the culture," X tells me over the phone. This newfound desire to suddenly create led him to pursue work in a string of production gigs and projects. He later became Williams's protégé and the rest, as they say, is history.
"The idea for "Fancy" to be inspired by Clueless is not something you hand off to any director. There's a lot that could go wrong. X executed my idea so well because he paid attention to detail. We make a great team because we both like to do the unexpected."
For X, the inspiration for a music video can come in many forms. Whether it be architecture, film, toys, or vintage photographs by Herb Ritts and David LaChapelle, he approaches each project holistically and without force, relying instead on simply letting things flow in order to preserve the purity of his art. "I don't do well with creating things with the end goal in mind," he shares. "I don't want to jinx it by putting on requirements of what I want it to do. It fucks anything that's right."
Over the course of the last 23 years, his videography has become iconic and generation-defining, from 2006's "Promiscuous" starring Nelly Furtado and Timbaland to conceptualizing a James Turrell-esque vision for Drake's 2016 viral hit "Hotline Bling."
So what, if anything, is the secret to Director X's success? The answer is simple. "If you ain't got hustle, you're in the wrong part of the game," he notes. "I've always said that. You gotta have technical knowledge, a sensibility, and you gotta have the hustle."