An exclusive premiere of the Zoe Rain-directed music video "On You"

Pride, Pleasure, and R&B: Russell Elliot Stripped Down

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Russell Elliot gives Sennheiser an exclusive premiere of his new music video for the single, "On You," a sensual, minimalist, wavy anthem for all kinds of love and connection.

  • Author: Abby Carney
  • Photos: Sarah Midkiff

In the opening sequence of Russell Elliot’s new music video for his single “On You,” a sensual blonde in a leather jacket leans against a white wall blowing smoke rings, eyes closed. He smolders to the camera, and croons, “You’re sweating, baby, from the touch of my lips to your chest. I know I drive you crazy.”

The blonde is Elliot, an independent R&B singer-songwriter originally from DC who is rising up quickly in the Brooklyn music scene. To celebrate the release of “On You,” choreographed by Yaminah Legohn and directed and edited by Zoe Rain (Yes, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ tour photographer), Elliot exclusively premiered the video at Sennheiser’s SoHo pop-up space this January.

Before his set and premiere at Sennheiser, Elliot bustled through the venue in destroyed denim and a sleeveless Aaliyah t-shirt with dropped armholes, exposing teases of skin. “On You” was inspired in part by the late R&B star’s sexy slow jams that Elliot grew up listening to, so even his saratorial design paid homage.

Toothily grinning as he prepared to warm up for his performance, he greeted passing crew members, associates, and strangers alike with genuine interest when he queried, “How are you doing?”

We caught up with the artist before his performance, and he shed some light on “On You” and his creative process for producing what he described as a “super minimalist, sensual, and wavy Aaliyah-esque 90s sex jam.” He said, “I tried to bring it into my world by making it super inclusive.” The entire video follows same-sex couples, interracial couples - every type of couple, in a stunning and steamy montage of dance numbers and slow, artful canoodling.

Elliot said he’s been using Sennheiser products ever since he first started recording music as a teen, and used Sennheiser’ s HD 280 Pro Studio Headphones to monitor while he mixed “On You” along with his first self-titled record, recorded at the same time.

„I tried to bring it into my world by making it super inclusive.“

“I really love minimalist, spacey, textural music, so you’re not going to listen to my record and feel a lot of distracting qualities. I like to refine it down to its distilled and necessary component. I’m a build and destroy person.”

Vocal about social justice and women’s issues, race issues, LGBTQ issues -- Elliot joins the ranks of a burgeoning genre of outspoken young queer artists who promote a message that all love is beautiful. He and his crew were deeply affected by this year's political events.The very weekend after the election was when Elliot and his team were scheduled to shoot the video for “On You.”

“We thought it would be kind of difficult to make something joyful; something easy and celebratory of all different types of love and connection,” he said. “But in the end we were able to let it be that. We were able to let it be celebratory and smooth and happy because we were also able to acknowledge that it was important, that that kind of visibility and that kind of positivity and inclusion and connection and love needs to be celebrated. People, especially young queer people in the United States, need to see that we’re gathering, and we’re celebrating things that can’t be taken from us. Maybe our rights are, but they can’t take pride and they can’t take pleasure.”