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Wardell: Dancing on the Freeway

Hitch a Ride With Sasha and Theo Spielberg’s Ode to Living Free

“September 3, 1999. Dear Diary, why can’t I be in Theo’s band?” So began Sasha Spielberg’s pursuit to make music with her older brother, Theo, a quest that took over a decade to come to fruition as the indie-folk duo Wardell. “She wasn’t super upfront about it,” says Theo Spielberg, whose sun kissed guitar lines are the perfect foil to Sasha’s enduring Fleetwood Mac-esque vocal hooks. “I grew up listening to punk that Sasha wasn’t really into. However, I remember one of my greatest victories as a brother was getting her to like The Distillers when I was in ninth grade.” Following the aptly titled EP Brother/Sister, “Dancing on the Freeway” hints at the siblings’ forthcoming debut album, with director Yousef Eldin’s accompanying hitchhiking music video making good use of their hereditary thespian chops (Sasha starred in her father Steven's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and indie rom-com The Art of Getting By). Now signed to Roc Nation, this week Wardell performed at The Troubadour, the legendary West Hollywood venue where Guns N’ Roses played their debut gig. “One of our first shows was at the El Cid in Silver Lake and I remember being so nervous,” says Sasha, who also makes chilled-out ambient music as Just Friends with electronic prodigy Nicolas Jaar. “But I remember looking over at Theo in the middle of set, and he looked back at me as if to say 'you’re doing great.' It was a nice moment." 

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  • On Replay
    On Replay

    Iris Apfel x Duro Olowu

    The 91-Year-Old Style Doyenne Shares Life Lessons with the Designer at the Zoo

    When Iris Apfel first met Duro Olowu in 2005, she was decked out in Mickey Mouse pajamas and laden with jewelry, and he had just bagged the award for New Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. The long-standing friends recently met up for a stroll through London Zoo, an encounter filmed by Leigh Johnson. After a brief post-university spell at Women’s Wear Daily, native New Yorker Apfel began a career in interior design in the early 1950s, starting a textile company with her husband Carl, which enabled her to indulge her peripatetic urges, especially in regards to collecting. She continues to be a muse for Jimmy Choo, MAC cosmetics and Albert Maysles, and her trademark more-is-more style has been honored in a celebratory exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “We have a very similar aesthetic for international fabric—a sort of curatorial eye for it but in a fun way,” explains Nigerian-born Olowu. “We don’t like precious things and our philosophy is: when in doubt, just add something else.” Olowu, who trained and practiced as a lawyer before launching his eponymous label in October 2004, collaborated with the perennial magpie this year by having her design bags and jewelry to accompany his capsule collection for JC Penney. “She and her husband Carl are like my second parents,” says Olowu. “Of course she loves fashion and I’m in the fashion business, but it’s not based on that. It’s just that I respect them, I like them and anyway I’ve always been a sucker for a 90-year-old broad.”
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  • MOST SHARED IN MUSIC
    MOST SHARED IN MUSIC

    Raffertie: Build Me Up

    Vincent Haycock Casts Three Brothers From Compton for the London Producer’s Stirring New Release

    Everything in the video is their real life,” says director Vincent Haycock of the Mays boys, who he cast for this magic realist visual accompaniment to London composer and producer Raffertie’s new track “Build Me Up,” after meeting the youngest brother Demantre while location scouting in South Central, Los Angeles. “Every cast member is their friend, son, or cousin, and all the locations are their houses and neighborhood,” explains the filmmaker, whose previous work includes videos for Florence and the Machine, Spiritualized and Calvin Harris. “Most of the scenes were based on what they wanted to do as opposed to me giving them too much direction. The only thing I made up was the idea of death—all the brothers are alive and well.” The occasional special effect adds a surreal, poetic element to Haycock’s fictionalized rendition of the Mays’ intense lives in the video produced by Somesuch & Co, rendering a portrait of the cyclical nature of life while forming a narrative mirror of the looping, primal track, taken from Raffertie’s album due out on Ninja Tune later this year. “One of the aspects I liked most was the idea of turning the breaks in the song’s structure into natural pauses for the voice-overs,” he says. “A musical element was still required here though so I composed some extra music derived from the choral backing vocals.” Next up for Haycock is a video for Rihanna—“It will be a complete 180 degree turn from this project,” he reveals—while Raffertie will release the Build Me Up EP on May 20. 

    You have a background in musical composition—when you are composing, do you ever have visuals in mind?
    Raffertie: Music is very visual for me. Often there are many images that go around my mind when listening to or making music. It happens the other way around as well, when I look at things, and witness events, ideas spring to mind that tend to be musical in nature.

    What music videos or visual/musical collaborations have most inspired you in the past and why?
    R:
    Zatorski and Zatorski and Philip Glass in The Last 3600 Seconds of a Wasp. The film documents the last hour of the life of a wasp, which fell onto its back and was unable to right itself. Set to Glass’ Metamorphosis, the combination of what I was seeing augmented by this music caused such a visceral reaction in me. 

    Have any screen soundtracks left their mark on you of late?
    R:
     I feel that film music has become quite homogeneous, but two soundtracks have stood out recently. The first was the original music composed for Tyrannosaur by Chris Baldwin and Dan Baker. The film is one of the most depressing, harrowing and horrific films I have seen for a while and the music illustrates that exceptionally with its unusual pallet of sounds. The second is the soundtrack of recent British TV series Utopia, which was written by Cristobal Tapia de Veer. Like the imagery of the show, it feels almost hyperreal. Moving from quirky to dark and from abstract to serene, the soundtrack is a timbral adventure. 

    (Read More)

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