Secret Cupboard Waltz really is quite secretive, I can’t give too much away lyrics-wise, but it was written about a person I know. Most of my songs are about secrets. I like to meet people and learn their stories and secrets and construct songs and artwork about them. Secret Cupboard Waltz is partly about someone and partly about a dream I had about them and their secrets.
The video which goes with it is inspired by elements of the dream, the darkness and the glitter were there whilst my friend hid at the edge with all his secrets spilling out. So, the video is an attempt to echo that. I worked with PurpleKnif videos to make the video: I knew what I wanted, so I explaind my idea to Purple Knif and then we borrowed a studio at Falmouth University and made the video in two takes, with my friends working the lighting and pouring glitter into a wind machine.
I have been playing with a band lately. Dan E Brown who also produced my two recent singles, plays bass and Jamie Killen is on drums. We have recorded two songs together and released them on a limited edition cassette tape, which is available for £4 here. Over the coming months I plan to work with Dan in his studio in Cornwall to create an EP.
All live photos by Chris Trevena. Unfortunately I don’t have any good images of my band yet, as we’ve only played a couple of gigs together so far. I made the artwork (above, top) for the two tracks we recently released on cassette by sticking a cat face to my face with masking tape, then asking my sister to take a Polaroid of me.
You can follow Olive Haigh on facebook here. I think she’s destined for great things…
Nick Mulvey, former founding member of Portico Quartet, releases new single Cucurucu accompanied by a stunning video shot on Nihiwatu beach in Indonesia by National Geographic director James Morgan, filmed in March 2013. Nick says: “I felt this song needed a video with wide expanses. Space to wonder. I didn’t have to look too far for the right film maker – James is a friend of mine, and I’ve loved his work for National Geographic. I knew he’d understand what I was after and have something special in his vaults…” So we caught up with James Morgan to find out more, and see further examples of his beautiful photography.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in this video – how did you come across them and is there any interesting history behind any of the locations?
All the footage for this video was shot on the island of Sumba in Indonesia. I was there in March last year shooting a documentary about the practice of ritualised violence and local esoteric beliefs. You can see more about that here. The opening shot is actually of a shaman gathering sea worms at dawn from the ocean, the colour of the sea worms serves as an augur of the coming harvest. For Cucurucu we decided to focus just on the story of these two boys riding their horses at the beach.
Two young boys and their horses play in the ocean in Nihiwatu, Sumba.
Can you tell us a bit about the boys and their horses?
The two boys are called Laiya Kula and Honga Dedu, we met them in a village in eastern Sumba. I’ve worked in Indonesia on and off for a few years so have a reasonable grasp of the language, I was also working with a producer and frequent collaborator, Johnny Langenheim, who is based in Bali and speaks Indonesian fluently. The horses are what makes Sumba unique in Indonesia, as I understand it they’re a result of Sumba’s place on the old sandalwood trade routes to China and Arabia. Now they’re very much a part of the culture. On another day we were invited to the funeral of a wealthy local landowner where a huge number of pigs and buffalo were slaughtered and, in testament to the man’s status, a horse was also killed quite violently. It was hacked to death with machetes and ran around for a good few minutes, it’s entrails splashing out onto the crowd, before it finally died. I find things like that hard to watch but in a lot of ways its less haunting than getting our horses vacuum packed and passed off as beef lasagne.
Ratu Dangu Duka chewing betel before the Pasola in Sumba, Indonesia.
How did working with Nick come about and how did you come to work on this ‘Cucurucu’ track?
I’ve known Nick for a few years and always been a big fan of his music so I was very excited when an opportunity came up to collaborate.
Tradition dictates that Almarhum Keledepiku must throw the first spear in the Pasola, a responsibility that he has inherited from his ancestors.
Is this the first music video you’ve been a part of, and if so how did you find melding the images with the music?
Yes, this is the first music video I’ve done. The past few years I’ve been focused on long term investigative photojournalism stories looking at underreported environmental and human rights stories. But even with that work, I’ve always been trying to push the boundaries of multimedia, combining sound and visuals to create a more atmospheric form of journalism. Music videos are definitely something I’m keen to work more on. I’m planning this year to keep up the journalism but also to explore more experimental areas that allow me to create more richly textured and layered films.
Joan Wasser – Singer, songwriter, violinist, and seemingly omnipresent force in the New York indie scene. Starting her post-music-school career in the Damnbuilders, Those Bastard Souls and Black Beetle, she has since racked up a very impressive CV. In 1999 she became a ‘Johnson’, featuring on the Mercury winning ‘I am a Bird Now’, Anthony Hegarty being a dramatically positive and calming influence on her both personally and musically.
The mishmash of folk milling around the Empire typifies Joan’s broad appeal. Clearly her talent knows no boundaries or subcultures which can’t be won over, which creates a delicious mix of middle-aged couples, muso types and uber-trendy lesbians.
She commands the stage with her sultry New York sassiness, giggling at the irritating and oh-so British heckles that makes you wish you could sod off and see her properly in New York. The first few songs, although technically perfect, seem to be missing something until suddenly, the weighty silence that fell in the fist few bars of ‘To be Lonely’ hit. Effortlessly, she pours the melody into the piano keys, which melt with the words and take you to her world. In fact, Joan’s world is very much Joan’s music. As an artist she is intrinsically linked to her history, her story, and it’s the subjectivity of her music that makes her so appealing. One of the most exhaustive sets I have ever seen, she pretty much played her entire back catalogue, including ‘Eternal Flame’, ‘Christobel’ and incredible Elliot Smith tribute ‘We Don’t Own It’.
Joan breathes, bleeds, feels and loves. Her solo work is very much her new beginning and the performance has this wonderful amalgamation of an accomplished, qualified, and experienced musician with something so fresh, tender, and pure. She’ll make you laugh, cry and fall in love all at the same time.
22 year old Luciano Scherer is truly dedicated to his cause. Working 8-10 hours a day, more about 7 days week, he produces paintings, sculptures and animation until his back hurts too much to carry on. The Brazilian self-taught artist works alone as well as with a collective called ‘Upgrade do Macaco’, and has collaborated with Bruno 9li and Emerson Pingarilho. I found him to be much older than his years, with some very insightful and philosophical things to say about everything from art to life and the internet.
When did you realise you had creative talent?
When I was 8 years old my school had a drawing challenge for a children’s book, the teachers read the book to us and we should drew parts of it. My drawing was chosen, it was not the best, but it was the craziest, and the teachers said to me that I was very creative. I started to draw again when I was 15, and only seriously when I was 18.
Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?
From the past: Bosch, Brueghel, Jan van Eyck, Crivelli, Albrecht Altdorfer, gothic art in general. I also like alchemical drawings, illuminated manuscripts, and popular art from my country. But my real influences are my artist friends, they helped me to transform my spirit, not just my art, modifying my inside shell, something that still happens everyday. They are: Carla Barth, Carlos Dias, Bruno 9li, Emerson Pingarilho, Talita Hoffmann, Upgrade do Macaco collective. My current master is Jaca, he is genius.
Who or what is your nemesis?
My nemesis is somebody with lot of dedication and creativity to create evil things, like guns, bombs, wars, murders, lies.
If you could time travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?
I would go to the late-gothic era, in the end of the 15th century and early 16th century, just to understand or comprehend a little better how artists can do those masterpieces. I want to know about the places, the woods, the people’s clothes, the churches, the religions and the spirituality of this time. It is my all time golden age of painting. They all invested years of dedication to each piece, the result of it is bigger than our current comprehension.
If we visited you in your home town, where would you take us?
My hometown is a very small city in the extreme south of Brazil, almost Uruguay. There’s no galleries, no museums, no cinema, no nothing! But there are very beautiful natural places, like mystery fog woods, beautiful beaches with nobody, lakes, fields, lots of different animals; I will take you to all these places.
To what extent is your work influenced by your religion or spirituality?
I’m a son of a catholic father who takes me to the church every Sunday, and a mystic mother who is deeply connected with questions of spirituality. All my life I’ve been in catholic schools, and the people that I know there appear to be dedicated to God with tons of saints in sculptures, bracelets, necklaces, flyers, but the rest of their lives they spend being so petty, earthly, extremely connected with just the image of faith, and the concepts of guilty, suffering and impotencies. This contradiction makes me feel revolted, and at the same time I too have been into spiritualism, a Christian based doctrine, but much more metaphysical. This time the metaphysical seems to me so curious, respectable and scary, very scary. So when I started to paint, the images of Catholicism caused a strange fusion of respect, fear, nostalgia, and anger. I felt I needed to work over them, to learn about them and get more intimate, question the images and dogmas and lose the fear. It was a period of destruction like a renaissance. For a year now I’ve found myself distant from the doctrines, but between all of them, mainly the oriental ones like Buddhism and Hinduism, I’m feeling more spiritualized than religious. But this is just the start; I have much more to learn and I’m trying to not answer all the questions but instead learning to live together with them. All of this reflects in my artwork.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
An artist’s assistant, or a curator, or a collector; art aside, I’d be a garden sculptor.
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
Living in a self-sustainable vegetarian community, with all my friends and family, in a place not too hot and not too cold, with as many animals as possible, all of them free.
What advice would you give up and coming artists?
Over and over I’ve heard people say “art doesn’t make any money” or “what do you want to be an artist for, it’s so useless”. I’ve stopped listening to the cynics now though.
What was the last book you read?
I read the David Lynch book about transcendental meditation “Into Deep Water” (This is the name in Brazil), and the Krishnamurthy’s “Freedom from the Known”- it’s like a bible to me, I read it over and over. I’ve been reading H. P. Blavatsky “Voice of the Silence” and “Isis Unveiled” too. Now I’m reading Nietzsche’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, it’s awesome.
What piece of modern technology can you not live without?
The Internet. It’s my mail, my books, my telephone, my all time world museum 24-7.
What is your guilty pleasure?
The excesses, in food, drink, work, sleep. Anytime I get too much of these things I feel so regretful, but I’m working on it.
Tell us something about Luciano Scherer that we didn’t know already.
I have a post-rap band, named Casiotron. And I’m working on my first individual exhibition, at Thomas Cohn Gallery next year.
This is certainly a young man full of promise.
As a purveyor of Steve Reich meets Daniel Johnston instrumental music, sickness Graeme Ronald, a.k.a. Remember Remember, is keen to take it to the stage as nature intended: “I’ve put together a seven piece band for this tour. It’s hard to time it right but it’s worth it. Using a laptop isn’t the same as a live band is it?”
Sitting in the back of a Brighton drinking den, Ronald exudes a boyish sense of wide- eyed enthusiasm. Currently touring with influential US noise crew, Growing, he’s rightfully proud of his self-titled debut album on Mogwai‘s Rock Action Records. Ronald’s sweet, Glasgow brogue suffuses our conversation as he gives me an insight into his formative days: “I played with Mogwai as an additional keyboard player. I kept pestering them to let me join the band. I was working on my own stuff with a Loop station and started playing live regularly. Mogwai came down to hang out at one show and then offered to do an album”
As it has afforded him so many opportunities, Ronald is proud of his home city: “Glasgow does have a great music scene. It takes going away to appreciate what’s there. The art school or dole queue are great places to meet musicians. It’s a vibrant environment. Best steer clear of the Neds though”
The music of Remember Remember mirrors the urban, comfortingly grey, concrete beauty of Glasgow: “It was a conscious decision to make a record that sounded Scottish. I hate it when people sing in American accents. Or think they’re German. There’s a sense of shame attached to being Scottish. Growing up, I was embarrassed by the Proclaimers, Rab C Nesbit, bag pipes. I saw Kurt Cobain on MTV and that was it! Getting older, you look to your own identity to create more honest art”
Ronald is refreshingly grounded and deadpans: “I’m not deluded enough to think I can become a pop star off of minimalist drone music. Making money is not a priority. Shouldn’t music be free? CDs, selling music – they’re all imposed business models.”
Forever the Modernist, he’s already got his sights on the future: “The label wants me to promote this record more but I’m so keen to start working on new music. Touring’s new enough to be exciting but it’s still work. I’m quite up for doing a Brian Wilson and sending out other people to play my songs…”