James Blake shared an eye-popping new video for “Are You Even Real?” The distorted visual, which stays focused on a close-shot of the artist’s face, plays tricks on viewers’ eyes as Blake sings his latest single.
Directed by conceptual artist and creative director Ryder Ripps, whose collaborations include projects with Miley Cyrus and Kanye West, “Are You Even Real?” also incorporates special effects makeup by Dain Yoon, a classically-trained painter and makeup artist who has gained an avid following for the photorealistic illusions that she paints on herself, and others.
“Are You Even Real?” is the second standalone single from Blake this year, following “You’re Too Precious.” Working between Los Angeles and New York, Blake collaborated with two chart-topping songwriters on the song: Starrah, whose credits include “Girls Like You” from Maroon 5 and Cardi B, and Ali Tamposi, who penned “Señorita” from Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes and co-wrote “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. The two writers also previously joined forces to pen Cabello’s hit single, “Havana”.
Upon its release in June, “Are You Even Real?” was praised by Euphoria, who declared, “if this is any sign of what’s to come from Blake’s next body of work, the musical future is enticing.”
Both singles follow Blake’s 2019 album, Assume Form. The widely-acclaimed title topped the US Dance/Electronic Albums chart and hit the Top Ten in multiple countries, including Canada and the UK. The album found Blake joining forces with a talented line-up of guest artists, including Travis Scott, André 3000, Moses Sumney, and Rosalía.
The NME called Assume Form “proof that James Blake is one of the world’s greatest producers, this loved-up fourth record, featuring Andre 3000 and Travis Scott, sees him finally in control as a brilliant songwriter and emotive lyricist.” Consequence of Sound, meanwhile, called the album, “a remarkable achievement by one of the most original songwriters of his generation…. This is Blake at his most focused, stripped of electronic frills, and down to his emotional underwear.”