The Montreal Solo Artist Pulls On a Blue Dress in His New Video
Cross-dressing and later undressing, off-kilter Canadian pop singer Mac DeMarco smears makeup and whipped cream over his face in the new video for lo-fi glam lullaby, “My Kind of Woman,” taken from his second album, 2. “We wanted to do something different, so changed the track’s original intention of being a love song between a man and a woman to become an ode between a man and himself—his feminine self,” says Alex Lill, director of the Newcomer Pictures-produced short. Singing under a spotlight in front of burgundy curtains, the 22-year-old protagonist brings to mind Isabella Rossellini’s noir nightclub performance in Blue Velvet, until the curtains are ripped away to reveal DeMarco wandering, bewildered, around a crowded, prop-strewn junkyard in La Brea, Los Angeles. The flamboyant musician and occasional psychedelic video artist has come a long way since the days he earned his money by paving roads and participating in medical experiments before the music started paying its way—he recently toured the US with Gallic indie superstars, Phoenix.
The Fashion Photographer Reflects On the Secrets and Lies in His Imaginary World
From a flying saucer invading a foxhunt to floating dinner tables, photographer Tim Walker’s fantastical images tantalizingly blur the line between fiction and reality. For over 15 years, the east London-based Walker has contributed his singular brand of fashion photography to British, Italian and American Vogue, as well as Vanity Fair, W and The New Yorker. Formerly an assistant to Richard Avedon, Walker draws inspiration from children’s books, films and illustrations, amassing them in scrapbooks which he uses to create his “imaginary places that never existed.” “I started using the camera as a way of capturing a mood I wanted to express,” he says. “To me, a photograph is far stronger when something is suggested rather than defined. If you define it there is nowhere for your imagination to go.” Ahead of a forthcoming exhibition at London’s Somerset House supported by Mulberry, and an accompanying book out next week from Thames & Hudson, Walker talks to NOWNESS about chance encounters on set and how the camera often fibs.
Your work often involves creating huge sets and a cast of models. Is it about setting up everything and then being open to chance?
Absolutely. It’s fundamental to what I do. A lot of gestures and expressions happen when the models experience something during a shoot—the wind blowing through the set or something falling over, for example. They need something to react to. A “mistake” can liberate a photograph and prevent it from looking over-choreographed.
Many of your images are surreal in some ways—is this a conscious decision?
The surreal in my work is instinctive, I think. I’ve always veered towards fantasy, dreams and magic. For me photography is a window to another world. I love things that are somewhere they shouldn’t be, for example the outside inside and vice versa. I find the notion “the camera never lies” really interesting because the place where it lies more than anywhere else is in fashion.
In 2010 you made a short film called The Lost Explorer. Why did you want to work with moving image?
I’ve always found film inspiring. As a photographer you always aspire to achieve something extra that you can’t achieve with still images. I decided to make a film out of curiosity and I naively thought I could draw on my knowledge of photography, but you can’t; they’re two very different things. I would love to make another film. I’m working on some ideas now but it’s an enormous process.
Tim Walker: Story Teller opens at Somerset House, London on October 18.
The Lovers of Math, Metaphor and Mozart On Writing Their Infectious Pop Hit
Gallic quartet Phoenix reveal the story behind their 2009 hit single “Lisztomania” in this clip taken from music video virtuosos Antoine Wagner and Francisco Soriano’s new documentary From A Mess To The Masses. Titled after a lyric from Phoenix’s global smash, the film was assembled from footage gleaned over the course of two years on the road. The duo traveled with the band, fronted by Sofia Coppola's beau Thomas Mars, to 85 gigs around the world, shooting on anything from iPhone to Super 8, 16mm to HD. “Something magical was in the air. There was no storyline, no structure, but it seemed obvious that there was something there,” says Wagner of first joining the group after they played the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee. The filmmakers chronicled the making of the band’s Grammy-winning fourth album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and their meteoric rise to fame through a tapestry of interviews with key players, jam sessions on the tour bus and live shows. But they avoided interviewing the band members themselves, concerned that it would break the intimacy with the audience. “The less they face the camera, the greater the sensation of being part of the experience becomes,” Wagner explains. “We tried to make the film as loyal to their music and universe as possible.” Replete with the ebullient and cryptic pop rock for which Phoenix are lauded, the documentary is an enlightening insider’s look at France’s most popular musical export since Air and Daft Punk.