Nadine Lustre's Visual Album Wildest Dreams Looks Like a Wild Dream
A clairvoyant reads the cards of a young woman’s fate, but also compels her to choose her fate. The same woman emerges from volcanic stone as an earthly manifestation of the mountain goddess myth. Now she lies afloat in the water like a lotus flower. This is decidedly not an obscure arthouse film—especially when you realize that it has garnered more than 1.5 million views less than a week after it dropped on YouTube.
Wildest Dreams is a visual album comprised of a string of discrete music videos threaded together by narrative and visual interludes, featuring a lithe, multi-hyphenate Nadine Lustre performing songs created by James Reid’s music label Careless.
Wildest Dreams is decidedly ambitious—not merely in form but in intent. Using dreamy animation, elaborate tableaux, scenarios staged in surrealism and realism, the video suite projects and extends Lustre’s lush and eclectic stylings. While rooted in contemporary R&B, her music is pushed beyond any pegs or references and becomes tightly woven into the 33-minute visual journey—a journey originating in the singer’s personal symbolisms.
“Nadine told us about the importance of the lotus flower for her so we made it the central figure, mimicking Nadine’s growth as it passes from the state of seed to flower,” filmmaker and director Dominic Bekaert says, noting how it reflects the main theme of Lustre’s album: self-empowerment.
Bekaert and Clementine Comoy are the two-person creative force behind Zoopraxi Studios, which, along with James Reid’s music label Careless, produced Wildest Dreams. Conceptualizing the project began with Zoopraxi writing a semi-narrative backbone with fellow filmmaker Quintin Cu-Unjieng.
“We really wanted that to be our stories' backbone and share that powerful feeling with others through the Mantras we wrote with Quintin,” Bekaert explains. “We wanted to tell the audience that they all have pearls in them and that they can access them by trusting themselves, their vision, and their dreams.”
These are big words and big feelings, but then again, a 33-minute visual album should really not be just a basic concept video with a single setting, tone, and conceit: Contemporary attention spans demand that it harbors multiple scenarios and worlds.
“We wanted each video to carry its own universe but have them all connect through a storyline,” Bekaert says. “Like a journey, we start in the darkness and make our way toward the light. We used symbolism to veer away from realism because, like for dreams, we wanted to talk to the subconscious of the audience.”
“We transformed Botticelli’s Venus by giving her a kampilan; we used local fabric to show that Filipina women are not only beautiful but they are also powerful and strong,” Bekaert continues. “We used the image of the Little Prince on his tiny planet to represent the disconnect we all felt during lockdown. We used the image of the agimat to show the strength and protection James shares with Nadine.”
“We connected the image of a protective bulul to our crazy albularyo that becomes Nadine’s guide throughout the journey—also showing us through his reading of local tarot cards, that in this era of fake news, the truth is hidden and one must dive inside of oneself to find the answers,” he says.
There is also the demand for honestly good music, which is the soft, cool center of Wildest Dreams—bright, dark, dreamy as the visuals, and tightly wrapped in lush, contemporary beats and stylings.
In the interstices between videos, Lustre, alternating smoothly between English and Tagalog, boldly makes declarations of her soul: I give myself permission to trust my own vision, she breathes, clothed as one of the dozen personas she assumes. Wildest Dreams does come together as an example of how something acutely successful is created by trusting one’s vision with artful abandon, as well as by trusting the vision of others.