“Thief” is simultaneously self-recriminating and intensely loyal. “I guess I’m just a selfish ghost,” Ookay sings, right before a harsh saxophone bursts through the track’s electronic surface. But later he turns that selfishness into devotion: “I’ll be here waiting for the chance to take you out this neighborhood.”
When u hear Thief in the club pic.twitter.com/xU1tOnIJNB
— OOKAY (@Ookayx) June 30, 2016
Ookay unveiled the clip for the track on Thursday. “While I had the vision for ‘Thief’ before the tragic events that took place in Orlando, [that] really changed my perspective on the song,” he explained in a statement. “As someone who spends the majority of my time in nightclubs trying to bring people together through music, it resonated deeply with me that someone tried to take that safe place away from us all. I wanted to send a message with this video that I truly believe in… In a world filled with hate, all we have is love. Nobody should have any fear when it comes to loving someone regardless of gender or race. That’s because #loveislove.”
Watch the video below, and read a Q&A with Ookay about the making of “Thief” and the corresponding visual.
When did you start working on this track?
I started about a year ago right after I came back from Coachella 2015 — I think actually the day right after.
What inspired you to bring in the saxophone?
I couldn’t make a lead that could express what I wanted in the drop. I decided to go with something natural with some feeling.
When it was done did you feel like it would be a hit?
Kinda sorta not really. I knew it was going to be special, and I knew my core fans were either going to be happy or angry about the song, but I had to do what felt right to me. I’m quite shocked by the love it has received due to it being so different from my past work.
Where you do you see it fitting into the modern electronic music landscape?
I don’t. But I think that’s how you have to be now. That’s where music has to go.
How did you approach making the video?
I envisioned it during a plane ride over a glass of wine. I knew I wanted a video, and I knew what I wanted, so I wrote everything down. I sent it to my team and asked if it was possible. They said, “of course!” So we did it. The only people stopping us from doing it was ourselves.
Who directed, and how did you connect with him/her?
I co-directed it with the bright future students of The New York Film Academy. They did an awesome job. Cubby Cramer also did a lot; Matt Jenks were there every step of the way. I couldn’t have done it without them.