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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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Kate Boy: From Stockholm With Love

The Electro Outfit Explores the Gothic Minimalism of the City by Night

“Stockholm's extreme black and white contrast is something that’s really inspiring to work with," says Kate Akhurst of the Swedish pop collective Kate Boy. "It’s a place of calm.” Originally from Australia, Akhurst, along with bandmates Hampus Nordgren Hemli and Markus Dextegen, lead us through today’s after-dark tour of the Swedish capital, directed by Marie Kristiansen. The Norwegian filmmaker and photographer––who has shot for SHOWstudio, Wallpaper* and Dazed Digital––reflects on Kate Boy’s own shadowy identity and the city’s long, dark winters in the monochrome film, which is soundtracked by the quartet’s debut single “Northern Lights,” a response to Akhurst’s first encounter with the aurora borealis. “I aimed to make it abstract and graphic, to capture the contrasts and the shape of the architecture––odd, surreal sites that resemble the band’s aesthetic,” adds Kristiansen of the locations that include the famed Tunnelgatan passage and the mirrored hallways of Sven-Harry’s Art Museum. Of the band’s intriguing name, Akhurst explains: “Kate Boy is a fictitious extra member of the band, an androgynous character that we felt so drawn to because it’s great to not to be put into boxes before you’ve even heard the music.”

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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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