The English Songstress Performs a Tale of American Heartbreak in Vincent Haycock's New Video
A relationship falls apart in the desert towns and fog-soaked coast of California as the baroque pop chanteuse and Karl Lagerfeld and Gucci muse Florence Welch takes on a cinematic role in this second collaboration with LA-based director Vincent Haycock. After helming the narrative music video for Welch’s Calvin Harris-produced disco hit “Sweet Nothing”, Haycock wanted to further explore singer’s interest in acting in his film for “Lover to Lover”, the latest single from her hit sophomore album Ceremonials. “She wasn’t just Florence, she was playing a character,” he says. “It was exciting to take someone who’s built such an iconic visual style, with the floaty dresses and distinct look of her videos, and do something really different.” Performing opposite Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn, who stars alongside Brad Pitt in the forthcoming flick, Killing Them Softly, Welch's on-screen interpretation echoes the track’s heart-aching refrain, “There’s no salvation for me now.” Beginning in a drab Los Angeles house and building to a cathartic gospel frenzy, the romance ends as the lovesick heroine disappears amid mist into the Pacific Ocean. “The waves were enormous, it was freezing cold and four in the morning—I was weeping all the way in I was so scared,” recounts the MTV Award-winning singer, laughing. “It was the most intense experience because we shot the whole day before; I went back to the hotel, slept for three hours, woke up and dove into the sea.”
How did the concept for this character come about?
I was going through a phase where I was thinking about what I wanted from life, asking, do I want a husband and a child? Why do I think I need that?
What was it like to film such intense scenes with a proper actor like Ben Mendelsohn?
It was an emotional day and it brought up a lot of things. I’d come to the end of this massive tour and just needed to go home. I was tired and disoriented because Southern California doesn't have seasons--everything's getting cold back home and the leaves are falling but in LA everything’s in this stasis. I think I was screaming, “This isn’t real, I don’t know what’s going on!" and Ben was screaming back, “You’re here, you’re here!”
Did you have a script?
It was completely improvised. I had to think about things that I was actually angry and upset about. It is cathartic, but you have to literally let yourself go. Ben is so sweet and accommodating--afterwards he gave me this massive hug and made me feel so comfortable.
Do you plan to take some time off now?
I’m not going to tour for a year after this one. I’ve been doing it since I was 21 and I think it’s time really to settle into moving out of my mum's! But I’m not going to stop writing. Playing live is my biggest passion, but I’ve got a lot of ideas, and I need the space to work on them.
The Songstress Leads an All-Star Cast for a New Buddy Holly Tribute Album
Outfitted in Day of the Dead regalia, Florence Welch conjures a soulful rendition of Buddy Holly's 1957 hit in new music video “Not Fade Away.” Produced by Louisiana native C.C. Adcock and recorded in New Orleans last year in the midst of Florence and the Machine's North American tour, the cover is part of a forthcoming 19-track tribute album, Rave On Buddy Holly, which commemorates the late musician’s 75th birthday. "When I was 10 my grandmother took me to see the Buddy Holly musical and I've had a crush on him ever since. And now my boyfriend looks slightly like him!" Welch laughs. The compilation's producers, Randall Poster and Gelya Robb, enlisted the likes of Patti Smith, Julian Casablancas, Paul McCartney and Karen Elson (with Jack White) in testament to Holly’s immeasurable influence. "He elevated the ordinary to poetry,” says Poster, renowned music supervisor for films by Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese and Todd Haynes. "A lot of artists have found inspiration and identified with Buddy Holly, because they feel like he's everyman, not a superman. He gave John Lennon the confidence to wear glasses." NOWNESS asked Poster to annotate standout tracks from the album, available on June 28.
Florence and the Machine, "Not Fade Away"
Florence was an artist that we wanted to have on the record from the beginning. By virtue of where she was, the track has this New Orleans arrangement: it breathes a Cajun influence. The song bears a geographic imprint.
Paul McCartney, "It's So Easy”
McCartney's probably been playing this song for 50 years. Not only is he paying tribute to Buddy Holly, he's also paying tribute to his own musical past. It's wonderful to hear how much fun he's having. It kind of speaks to what rock and roll is: it's there to help you capture your youthful spirit.
Karen Elson, "Crying, Waiting, Hoping"
We pursued Karen on the verge of stalking her, basically, to get her to do a track.
Jenny O., "I'm Gonna Love You Too"
A sweet story. We've had our eye on her. She's about 21 years old. She just went out on her own, without asking, cut the track and sent it to us, and it fit in so perfectly. There's something so spirited about it. That we were able to include it was a real treat; to present a relatively unknown artist, who is still younger than Buddy Holly was when he died.
My Morning Jacket, "True Love Ways"
Jim James [the band’s frontman] was the first artist who recorded for us. I worked with him on the Todd Haynes's Bob Dylan movie, I'm Not There, for which he sang and also appeared. In my mind, I heard him singing “True Love Ways.” So I brought him the song. Jim James is an angel on earth, and it's just the most heartbreaking and beautiful song you've ever heard.
Patti Smith, "Word of Love"
Patti was thinking about Buddy's marriage to Marie Elena [Santiago], who was from Puerto Rico, and brought this Spanish language spirit into the song, which is just beautiful. This was also really a band collaboration: Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan, who are in Patti's band, are huge Buddy Holly fans: they were channeling his relationship with the Crickets and the guys he grew up with playing this music.
Kid Rock, "Well Alright"
We worked on this with the producer Matt Sweeney, who also produced the Black Keys and the Julian Casablancas tracks. He made the suggestion to have Kid Rock, and we weren't really sure about how that was going to sound. He was really open to trying something different. So we got this really tight and spare soul track. I think it’s one of the great Kid Rock tracks of all time.
Lou Reed, "Peggy Sue"
Lou couldn't understand why everyone didn't want to do "Peggy Sue." That was his take on it. Lou was like, “I mean it's the best song! Peggy Sue! Peggy Sue made an impression on me.”
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On the Edge of Modernism With the Master Architect and the Genius Designer
Illustrious modernist Richard Meier and multi-disciplinary creator Massimo Vignelli reflect on their respective crafts, city life, and enduring friendship in this mesmeric film by Johnnie Shand Kydd. Shot at the minimalist offices of Richard Meier & Partners on 10th Avenue and West 36th Street, the two powerhouses discuss their collaboration on the firm’s forthcoming monograph, Richard Meier, Architect Volume 6, chronicling the stark, white, rationalist buildings that define the firm’s aesthetic. The Pritzker Prize laureate's most notable projects include the Getty Center in L.A., the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and more recently, the two glass-and-steel towers on Perry Street in New York’s West Village that Martha Stewart, Ian Schrager, Calvin Klein, and Nicole Kidman have all called home. Vignelli, too, has left a significant mark on Manhattan, having famously designed the New York subway map and signage, in addition to working on everything from packaging and furniture design to corporate identities for clients like BMW, Barney’s, Xerox and American Airlines. “Architects need to have a certain arrogance, a sense of self-belief,” posits Shand Kydd. “A designer, however, has to be more collaborative. Consequently, Meier and Vignelli have very different natures, but like all very talented people, they both look forward and not back.” Here Meier nonetheless looks to his present city, and beyond, to reveal his select few architectural necessities.
RICHARD MEIER’S TOP FIVES
Favorite buildings around the world:
Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp
Le Thoronet Abbey in Provence
Ryōan-ji in Kyoto
Fatehpur Sikri in Agra
The Guggenheim Museum in New York City
Favorite spaces in New York:
The plaza at the Seagram Building
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Guggenheim Museum
Things every architect should own:
A good supply of General’s Draughting Pencils
A Keuffel & Esser ruler
A 9 - 8 1/2 ft long work table
A white shirt and a black suit
A black Porsche 911