My Career Journey: Calmatic

The LA-based director behind music videos for Pharrell, Lizzo and Lil Nas X reflects on his journey from afterschool computer club to Grammy-winning director

“I was more of a strong admirer of creativity,” Calmatic says of his childhood. Growing up in South Central LA, he enjoyed drawing and looking at his dad’s old vinyl records, however technology seemed like his calling as a child. “When I was eight years old, I used to go to this afterschool centre in my neighbourhood that was built to keep kids off the streets,” he recalls. It was there he learned how to use a computer and quickly excelled, later going on to run his own outfit fixing people’s computers and doing graphic design. 

His interest in tech soon intersected with his love of music and he taught himself how to use music production software. By the end of high school, he thought he had his career path pinned down: “As far as I was concerned back then, I was going to be the next Kanye West, the next Pharrell.” 

Calmatic has come full circle in a way: last year, he worked on his first project with Pharrell – not as a producer but as director of the music video for the song Entrepreneur, the latest work in a career of making memorable videos for leading artists. 

Calmatic’s journey to becoming a director seems a natural evolution of his interests. He was known among his musician friends as both the beatmaker and the go-to computer guy, so he would help them with laying out Myspace pages and creating album covers. “There’s a point where I came into the room as a producer, but then I left the room as the graphic designer or the tech guy,” he remembers.

Top: Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus in the Western-inspired video for Old Town Road, which won the Grammy for Best Music Video 2020; Above: The video for Entrepreneur by Pharrell, featuring Jay-Z, spotlights Black leaders including Tyler, The Creator and Issa Rae

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes