Architecture and Music: Fly Through China’s “Paris” to the Sound of Jamie xx

The melancholic streets of Tianducheng serves as the backdrop for xx’s apocalyptic beats and lamenting melodies.

Chlo̩ Vadot Chlo̩ Vadot

After the release of the new music video for Jamie xx’s “Gosh,” the music world was fast to comment on the dystopian landscape that makes the setting for this impressive feature directed by Greek-French filmmaker Romain Gavras.

Foregoing the use of CGI and 3D effects, Gavras — who is well known for directing music videos for M.I.A. (“Born Free” and “Bad Girls”), Kanye West and Jay Z (“No Church In The Wild”) — takes a cast of over 400 actors to the eerily deserted city of Tianducheng in China.

The city, one of around 50 ghost towns in China, is located on the outskirts of Hangzhou. When construction began in 2007, this curious urban landscape had been crafted to replicate that of Paris, thousands of miles away in France. Trees line plazas, and stalls await to be inhabited by quaint coffee shops and storefronts.

However, the city is practically deserted: Out of the 10,000 inhabitants it was meant to accommodate, only about 2,000 live in the city. Even a 354-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower — at one-third the size of the original — hasn’t spurred the interest of tourists and romantics to come to Tiandu City.

Tianducheng was a luxury real estate development, but like many other full-scale developments around China, the project for the town has not exactly followed the path of success its developers had planned.

It seems fitting for Romain Gavras to use the melancholic streets of Tianducheng as the backdrop for xx’s song, which balances apocalyptic beats and lamenting melodies. It is also revealing, as many commenters on the video are surprised to find out that the set is in fact a real place. In parts of the video, faraway vehicles show that residents of the city live a slow day-to-day life, with streets deserted and unfinished housing towers practically vacant.

“Romain Gavras has directed some of my very favorite music videos,” xx said in a statement to Apple Music, who premiered the video. “I’m so happy that my music inspired him to make something this incredible for GOSH … ”

On his end, Gavras recommended that people “please watch full screen with loud speakers or headphones,” adding to the feelings of anxiety and dystopia that this world lets us imagine.

Enjoy this article? Check out our breakdown of OK Go’s equally surreal architectural music vid for a Chinese furniture store and fly through the dreamlike cityscapes that feature in Coldplay’s latest single, “Up and Up.”

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