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April 18, 2014

How We Used to Live

Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne Go Back to the Future in a Paean to 20th-Century Living

“It’s been talked of as an ‘anti-nostalgic nostalgia film,’” says Travis Elborough, who co-wrote How We Used to Live with Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley. “We tried to make a portrait of the past but one that you can swim around in, as if you’re living it.” Excerpted in today’s retro-futuristic snapshot of the dawn of the computer age, the poetic trawl through a not-so-distant London is directed by Paul Kelly, who has already collaborated with the pioneering British electronic-pop band on Finisterre (2003), What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? (2005) and This is Tomorrow (2007). Weaving together analog color footage of the city from 1950 to 1980 sourced from the archive of the British Film Institute, it reawakens the vibrancy of a lost time with the aid of effervescent new music by Saint Etienne's Sarah Cracknell and Pete Wiggs, as well as a narration by Deadwood’s Ian McShane. “The future is never quite what you’d expect it to be, just as the past isn’t either,” says Elborough, whose reputation as a pop-historian has burgeoned in recent years with his books London Bridge in America and Beside the Seaside. “A lot of the footage is looking towards this bright tomorrow,” adds Kelly. “We’ve used it to look back, so we’ve kind of reversed the purpose.”

How We Used to Live will be screened at Southend-on-Sea Film Festival on May 5, and with a first ever live performance of the score by Saint Etienne at the Sheffield Documentary Festival on June 12.

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Jackson and His Computerband: G.I. Jane (Fill Me Up)

Mrzyk & Moriceau's Erotic Battleground Sets the Scene for the Electronic Eccentric

An anonymous female protagonist takes on a phallic army in Mrzyk & Moriceau’s erogenous epic for Jackson and His Computerband. Taking new single “G.I. Jane (Fill Me Up)” as their starting point, the French directing duo worked with a team of five animators for two months to create a chimerical world of sexual fantasy for the Warp Records-signed multi-instrumentalist. Born Jackson Fourgeaured, the Parisian released his second album Glow in September after an eight-year gap—the long player comes complete with guest vocals from Berlin-based disco absurdist Planningtorock and singer-songwriter Mara Carlyle. “We had no brief; we showed him a storyboard and he said ‘Go,’ he let us totally free,” says Jean Francois Moriceau, one half of today’s featured creative pair whose CV includes videos for similarly outré Gallic stars Air and Sébastien Tellier. “We love Jackson’s song, so the ideas came very fast. We wanted something sex-gore-bizarre, so created this faceless girl fighting against penises that appear from everywhere.” The explosively charged narrative takes in Manga influences and the duo’s trademark pop eroticism, while also providing, as Moriceau opines, a comment on misogyny and female empowerment. “Of course you can see the power of feminism in the film,” he says. “But firstly, we want to entertain.”

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Glass Animals: Psylla

Nature Wins Out in a Magically Arboreal Video from the Up-and-Coming Group

Flowers and vines weave out of the bloodied members of rising UK-based guitar quartet Glass Animals, the latest protégé of Adele, Florence and the Machine and Bloc Party producer, Paul Epworth. This video accompaniment to forthcoming single “Psylla” is the product of a preoccupation with the natural world. “I grew up surrounded by trees, and as a kid books like The Wind in the Willows, and The Jungle Book were all I read,” says front man David Bayley. “We rehearse in the woods outside Oxford, which got those stories spinning around my head again and bled into the music.” Director Rafael Bonilla Jr. utilized his own botanical interest, using real plants, dirt and twigs for the stop-motion animation to create a playful accompaniment to the band’s forthcoming single. “I’ve always had an interest in science, especially biology, and think it’s humbling to realize that for all our grandiose notions, we’re really just meat, bones, water and cells,” says the director, who recently created animated visuals for Maison Martin Margiela’s Spring-Summer show in New York. “We walk around with the idea in our heads that humans are separate from nature, or that the natural world is a pyramid with us at the top, which isn’t true.” The band—made up of Americans Bayley and Drew MacFarlane and Oxford boys Edmund Irwin-Singer and Joe Seaward—embark on a UK and European tour at the beginning of November, before releasing their Epworth-recorded debut album early next year on Wolf Tone.

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