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April 14, 2014

Coldplay x Jonas Åkerlund

The Uncompromising Filmmaker Takes Us Behind the Magic with Chris Martin and Ziyi Zhang

“I came from music and thought there was nothing more compelling until I discovered filmmaking and realized what real magic is,” says Jonas Åkerlund, the vanguard Swedish director whose silent film-inspired music video for Coldplay’s new single “Magic” stars Chris Martin as a bespectacled traveling illusionist who falls for Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang. In a bespoke curation of on-set photography for NOWNESS, Åkerlund draws on his own, twisted Big Top experience. “I’ve been obsessed with circuses and live performances all my life,” says Åkerlund, who directed a circus in Stockholm in the early years of his career, long before pop collaborations with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and The Prodigy, as well as ambitious feature films including the 2002 Brittany Murphy and Jason Schwartzman starring, Spun. “There was nothing traditional in my shows; it was a mix of circus acts, stunts, dancers, films and DJs. I tried to sell the show in Vegas but I was way ahead of my time. The show was too extreme, even for Vegas.” 

Photographer: Jonas Åkerlund; Costume Designer: B Åkerlund; Production Designer: Emma Fairley; Hair & Makeup: Dominie Till; Ziyi Makeup: Ozzy Salvatierra; Graphics: Robin Olofsson; Photo Assistant: Luke Fisher; Retouching: Anders Thessing.

Look one: Chris Martin's wardrobe exclusively by Greg Lauren throughout
Zhang Ziyi: Headpiece, earrings, bracelet & neckless: Lynn Ban archives; dress: vintage; rings: Loree Rodkin & Elise Dray; shoes Giuseppe Zanotti

Look two
Chris Martin: Gunner Foxx House of Hats
Zhang Ziyi: Headpiece: vintage; earrings: Lynn Ban archives; arm piece: Atelier Swarovski; body suit: vintage; shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti

Look three

Chris Martin: Boots by Brooks Brothers; l
aced-up boots: vintage
Zhang Ziyi: Crystal sun glasses by: A-morir; rings & earrings: Loree Rodkin; Neckless & bracelets: Lynn Bann archives;Boots: Giorgio Armani; Outfit vintage

Look four
Zhang Ziyi: Headband: vintage with a Lynn Ban archive neckless worn as headband; dress: Vivienne Westwood; cape & fur: vintage; hand-jeweled pieces from Lynn Bann Archives; shoes by: Christian Louboutin; sword diamond neckless & earrings: Loree Rodkin; ring: Elise Dray

Ziyi Zhang pink kimono look

Crystal headpiece: Lynn Bann archives; diamond earrings: Loree Rodkin; kimono & boots: vintage

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Midnight Juggernauts: Systematic

Surrealistic Felines Cascade to the Beat of the Cosmic Australian Trio

If you are a dog person, look away, as an oddball troupe of cats strut to the sound of Midnight Juggernauts’ “Systematic.” Taken from the Melbourne band’s third album Uncanny Valley, the track gets its musical cues from the stardust-sprinkled harmonies of Electric Light Orchestra, providing a driving backing to this bizarre collection of furry friends. French director duo Mrzyk & Moriceau recently made an explosive phallic fantasy for Parisian electronic act Jackson & His Computerband, and have carried their signature hyper-pop stylings to today’s Division-produced romp. “They had an idea to throw dozens of cats around and we were curious to see how they could do that without offending animal cruelty groups,” says the band’s keyboardist Vincent Vendetta. “My initial reaction to the video was to laugh throughout—and obviously no animals were harmed.” Midnight Juggernauts are fresh from touring their native Australia—a jaunt that featured a trip through the crocodile country of Darwin and a marriage proposal on stage in Sydney—and plan to visit Europe early next year. In the meantime the three will attend to their corresponding pets. “Dan [Stricker] has a rabbit and Andy [Szekeres] has a sausage dog,” says Vendetta. “I have a cat that I think inspired one of the animals in the video; I bought him a mini drum kit, which I make him play when I’m lonely.”

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Hejira: Litmus Test

An Experimental Live Performance in the House of Dreams from Matthew Herbert's New Charges

A meticulously shot sweep through a Victorian terraced house from garden to rooftop provides the beguiling video to Hejira's “Litmus Test,” shot by director Faith Millin. Bassist Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne and guitarist Sam Beste duet in the bedroom and Alex Reeve plays lead guitar on the landing, while the living room hosts drummer Alexis Nunez, and a small choir harmonize in the attic of the London property known as to as the 'House of Dreams.' This musical Tower Of Babel is home to the entire quartet, whose backgrounds stretch from Chile, Hungary, Germany, and Ethiopia. Debut album Prayer Before Birth will be be released October 21 via Accidental, the label run by maverick British sound artist and Björk collaborator Matthew Herbert. “They strive to create music that's both cerebral and emotional,” says Herbert of the foursome that he produced. “It's been great to hear it evolve into something so confident and symphonic.” NOWNESS put questions to band spokesman Reeve to talk collective creativity and sonic possibilities. 

How did the House Of Dreams affect your creative process?
Alex Reeve:
We transformed the house into a recording studio, utilizing all areas from living rooms to bathrooms to experiment with different sonic possibilities. We have always been attracted to the idea that the space in which you perform or record becomes part of the composition. Instead of trying to control the natural resonance of each room, we fully embraced the unique character of each space and factored this into our production and recording decisions.

Did this mean that the house has a presence in your music?
By the end we really knew the sound of the house as much as we would the sound of an instrument. As a result it became an extension of Hejira, and its voice is clearly audible on our album and in the live films we created there.

On a practical level, how did you and the director set the video up?
We were adamant that the audio should all be recorded live; if it had been playback it would have lost a large part of what makes it unique, becoming more of a music video than a live film. Perhaps the hardest and also the most amusing was trying to follow the female protagonist through the house without getting any of the crew in shot, which led to people being locked away in toilets and cowering behind curtains.

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