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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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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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Devendra Banhart: Mondo Taurobolium

Animator Galen Pehrson Takes the Folk Star on a Psychotropic Trip Into the Dark Heart of Hollywood

Avant-folk singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart builds upon his stellar collection of video collaborations with a subversive and moody new piece from rising animator and director Galen Pehrson. Conceived in the tradition of Mondo—the 1960s sub-genre associated with exploitation, death and taboo—Mondo Taurobolium uses the eponymous track “Taurobolium” from Banhart’s latest album Mala as a backdrop. The experimental narrative takes dark and existential turns into the murky underbelly of Hollywood fame and finds the duck-like character Mondo at its center, reeling in a state of disillusionment following a wave of torrential success. Mondo’s counterpart is Gale, voiced by cult favorite Rose McGowan as the beaked female lead who accompanies him through back alleys and night crawls of Los Angeles. “I think it’s easier to trust an animal without scrutinizing its actions,” says Pehrson, who has collaborated with Banhart on the cover of his album Cripple Crow and the video to “I Feel Just Like a Child,” and has recently shot a series of enviable commissions from MOCA, Death Grips, James Franco and Talib Kweli. “I think it’s something we learn while watching cartoons when we’re young. There’s often a moral undertone to them—here, it’s same idea just with more mature and complex topics.” 

Hand-drawn 2D animation is something of a dying art. What inspires you to stay the course?
Galen Pehrson:
I enjoy drawing and making little worlds. The passion comes from the feeling of seeing a character come to life, or clouds blowing over a landscape. It’s not a passion reserved for animation but for sharing, creating and collaborating.

Is the process quite drawn out and isolating?
I spend months alone. This piece took four months. I counted something like 2,140 hours. The one day I took off, I ran my car over a boulder. 

What animation directors have inspired you lately? 
I recently discovered Sally Cruikshank—a cab driver turned me on to her work and my mind was blown. I feel like we might be kindred spirits.

What themes do you find yourself exploring over and over again?
I think the biggest theme is nighttime. I work through the night, and there’s a different feeling in the air: a kind of stillness and clarity that I’m grasping at and trying to relay.

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