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Empire of Sound - Empire

In a deserted gas station, Mattic, the gas station attendant, goes about his nocturnal business. A vehicle arrives, a man gets out, enters... It's a hold-up. Mattic is held at gunpoint. A gunshot rings out. What follows is a chase between dream and reality for Mattic, who had asked for nothing, it was just self-defense...

  • Pauline Penicaud
  • Julien Grenier
  • Pauline Pénicaud
  • Julien Grenier
  • Julien Grenier
  • Project Type:
    Music Video
  • Runtime:
    6 minutes 18 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 10, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    40,000 EUR
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  • Shooting Format:
    ARRI Alexa Mini LF , RED Raptor
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
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Director Biography - Pauline Penicaud, Julien Grenier

Pauline Pénicaud makes her directorial debut with Empire. From a young age, her parents gave her a camera which she carried with her everywhere. Alongside this, she studied classical piano which sparked her second passion, music. It was only natural that image and sound would take an important place in her life. Parisian jazz clubs became an endless source of inspiration and meeting new artists from the French music scene such as Ibrahim Maalouf, Tigran Hamasyan, Etienne Mbappe, Richard Bona, and Eric Truffaz. She produced numerous album covers, photos, and videos. It was in the live atmosphere that she enjoyed expressing herself and capturing the moments that moved her the most. For her, each melody told a story. Her collaboration with the band Empire of Sound allowed her to explore a more narrative style of writing and let her creativity shine. One thing is certain, she still has many stories to tell.

Julien Grenier is the founder of the music group Empire of Sound. As a keyboardist, he started his career in the reggae and jazz scene in Bordeaux before moving to Paris. It was there that he met Pascal Nègre (former director of Universal Music Europe), who took him under his wing and entrusted him with the musical production for several of his artists such as Zaz, Anggun, and Frérot Delavega. Meanwhile, Julien continued to compose music for himself in a completely different genre that he cherished: rap/hip-hop, which inspired his creativity. In 2015, Empire of Sound was born and released their first album "Out of the Norme". However, Julien wanted to take his vision even further. He was very sensitive to the importance of visuals and had a strong aesthetic perspective. That's why, when he met Pauline Pénicaud, they decided to completely revamp the image of the group to take it to the next level. Ideas were flowing, and Empire was created through a collaborative exchange. This duo will continue to surprise us in the rest of their journey.

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Director Statement

The music video "Empire" is about Mattic, an unassuming gas station attendant, who finds himself on the run after a hold-up gone wrong. The text poetically expresses the ephemeral nature of our time on earth and how everything can come to an abrupt stop from one day to the next. In this narrative, I wanted to break down the stereotypes of the rapper/robber and make Mattic a person like you and me, forced to make a choice, to die or to save himself.

Having myself been the victim of an armed robbery in my past as a bank receptionist, I wanted to convey the questioning, violence, and trauma that arise from having a gun pointed at you.

Rapper Mattic is from North Carolina, which inspired me to search for the shades and texture unique to American cinema from Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time or Percy Adlon's Bagdad Cafe, the film that sparked my passion for image-making.