Case Study: Music Video

Empire State Building_New York_Skyline_Bodypaint_Body Art_Bodypainter_Iconic_Trina Merry_Janna Pelle_Music Video


Janna Pelle – Music video, “City Life”. Alternative Pop Musician.


Indie Music Scene: CMJ, SXSW, Younger Brooklyn audience, 15-35 years mainly.


I actually saw Trina’s work on some New York Blog that I follow featuring Brooklyn Bridge camouflage painting and the one in DUMBO. I had already written my song, “CITY LIFE” and I was just starting to put pieces together for the music video. I saw her work and I thought, nothing says “CITY LIFE” more than this, I wonder if she’d work with me! So I reached out to her and she was super nice and really into the project. She was telling me that she’d just moved here from San Francisco. I read the purpose of the (camo) project – to show that life in the big city isn’t as glamorous as it seems, and that it was an homage to New York City women – and I just thought it was so aligned with the concept of the song. Not only did she accommodate, but she was also really flexible because she was so busy during that time. It was during Halloween season and she told me that Halloween is always one of the busiest times for her with all of the themed parties, but I was worried that by the time she got back from all of her travels that it was going to be too cold to do what we were trying to do. It was already pretty cold… it was October 26th when she painted me. I remember she was flying out of the country the very next day, but she still made time to fit me into her schedule on short notice. We did the paint in about 4 and a half hours, she brought her suitcase with her and then head straight to the airport! It was really amazing. I really appreciated that she was so accommodating and it was important enough for her to squeeze in. She painted me into the Empire state building. She did her still shot, and we shot the video once she left. It took about another hour after she had left, but I stayed in the same place and we took a bunch of shots of me singing and we did a time lapse kind of thing, too. So, the beginning of the music video is her painting me. It looks really cool – you can see the process as it’s happening, and it’s shown throughout the video. In the beginning, I just have the base colors on me and by the end, I’m totally camouflaged into the Empire State building.



I was worried about how it would turn out, like if the scenery that I chose wouldn’t look as good as I thought it would in my head. I didn’t have any worries before hiring her – only after. It was kind of annoying, we were supposed to do it somewhere else on the Williamsburg water front, but then last minute I found out that you couldn’t have electrical space heaters unless you had a permit and that propane is illegal in all of New York, which I didn’t know. So we weren’t able to do it there because we couldn’t have space heaters. We ended up doing it on the Penthouse of my friend’s apartment and it turned out way better because it’s a more unique view of Manhattan on the roof, which turned out to be a much more unique shot anyway, so it was a blessing in disguise! I guess my main concerns though, were due to the fact that there were a lot of moving parts. I feel like as a person who is commissioning somebody like Trina to work on a project like this – even though I know a lot of photographers, videographers and creative people – I didn’t realize you needed permits for certain things like space heaters. And there are just a lot of unknowns that the average person hiring her might not know that would make things complicated or stressful before a shoot. I wasn’t worried about Trina, she had been super nice to me the whole time and was always really excited about the project. It was more the limitations I wish I had someone to help me out with – to foresee all the potential problems before the shoot.




My favorite part was learning how Trina works, and just seeing her in person! When she took out her palate, I looked at it and there were not even 10 colors. Blue and dusty tones. It didn’t seem like she’d be able to blend me into the scenery with the colors she had so it was really interesting to see it happen on my body. It was so much fun. She was a comfortable person to work with; conversational the whole time. I got to learn about her and other projects she’s done and other musicians she’s worked with. She told me she had never done anything like this for a music video before, bur she’s done other music videos and has done body paint for the Dresden Dolls. She’s done so much, and I’m glad I’m part of her resume now!


Trina is really good at what she does and you wouldn’t expect somebody who is painting your naked body to make you feel so comfortable. It could be pretty awkward for some people to have someone painting your crotch. She just made me feel really at ease. She is an interesting person and genuinely excited about the work she is doing.


What are your experiences living in your city?  Do you relate to Janna’s song? Share your version of “CITY LIFE” below.


Additional Resources:

If you like the song, be sure to check out Janna’s website and support her new album HERE

Purchase a print of this work HERE

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