The Up-and-Coming Icelandic Songstress Explodes onto Our Radar
Nordic solo artist Disa shows off her otherworldly vocal range while dancing across archive imagery of solar flares in the video for her first single, “Sun,” directed by the artist with photography from Mathias Døcker. Having left her native Reykjavik for the music scene of Copenhagen, the 25-year-old singer is releasing her debut track on Danish label Tigerspring. An admirer of experimental Swedish chanteuse Fever Ray, English ambient pioneer Brian Eno and traditional Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Disa takes her inspiration from wild northern landscapes and, occasionally, niche Icelandic literature. The song’s dreamlike lyrics describe how she would like to be turned into a bright supernova—to be “shot up in a firework from a ship near the Reykjavik harbour,” a riff on a scene from the book LoveStar by Andri Snær Magnason. Celestial vocals swirl and float over glacial organs and slow, repetitive electronic beats that build towards a foreboding climax. “I wanted to create something that transcends genre, that doesn’t fit in a box,” says Disa. “I want to make music that I really love listening to.”
The Acclaimed Director Gives Us an Insider's Glimpse of His Favorite Video Store
Michel Gondry takes us on a tour of his local Parisian haunt in A Cinephile’s Labyrinth, a new work directed by Larry Clark alumna, actress and filmmaker Tiffany Limos. The Academy Award-winning director reminisces on time spent wandering the aisles of La Butte Video Club, the small VHS and DVD store to which he has made pilgrimages over the years. “I watched all the early Wim Wenders films from La Butte when I was preparing for The Science of Sleep,” says Gondry of this old school answer to Netflix. In his forthcoming L’Écume des Jours (Mood Indigo), the French auteur adapts Boris Vian’s 1947 cult novel of the same name—a satirical story of young love set in jazz-infused Paris. “I tried to avoid ‘Rive Gauche’ clichés,” he says of the upcoming feature, “but I used the music of Duke Ellington.” Similarly, La Butte is a relic of Paris’ past and one that continues to inspire—not just during the making of 2008’s homage to video, Be Kind Rewind, but in providing the director with regular interaction with other film lovers. “Out of all the directors I work with, Michel is the most fun,” muses Limos. “He makes me laugh out loud constantly.” Here Gondry reveals just how important his encounters in the video aisle have been to his acclaimed oeuvre.
Was the video store a big part of your early experience with film?
Michel Gondry: We had a video player at home since the early 80s so the video process was part of my adolescence. I used to shoot little sketches with my brothers and our friends. Sadly, I don’t think there are many places like La Butte left where I live in Brooklyn.
Do you ever think about whether your film will end up on the shelves of somewhere like La Butte when you are making it?
MG: Yes. In fact it’s one of the reasons why we as filmmakers have to define the genre that we want our film to belong to. We know that people will put them on specific shelves. It doesn’t make things easy when your genre is not well defined.
Have these films also influenced your collaborations with other artists, such as the musicians for whom you’ve made music videos?
MG: Yes, sure. I remember the first time I collaborated with Björk—we discussed all our favorite movies. We discovered that we had lots of favorite films in common. Like The Night of the Hunter (1955) for instance, which became an inspiration for the video for [her 1993 single] “Human Behaviour.”
Do you still watch films as much as you used to before you began making them?
MG: I don’t see them the same way. Unfortunately, I can’t take myself out of the equation. Most of the time I’m watching a movie, I’m thinking, “I could never achieve this!”
Your latest adaptation takes on a work of satire. Is it important to have a sense of humor in filmmaking today?
MG: Humor helps to swallow the harshness of life.
A Young Artist Slides Off the Grid in the First Installment of our "Shorts on Sundays" Series
Crisp mornings and solitary fireside evenings punctuate My Friend Kills Time, a contemplative short from emerging Norwegian filmmaker Jakob Rørvik that portrays a young man's self-imposed exile in rural Britain. The work’s star is Thomas Duggan, a friend of the director and a design graduate from Central St. Martins who has made sets for London theatre company Shunt, as well as his own products and installations such as chandeliers made from test tubes, sofas from hemp and trays of crystal-forming liquids that catch the light as they transform. In Rørvik’s film, however, he appears as a handsome man with high cheekbones and plush lips who attempts to go about a daily routine in an isolated cabin, whittling down his character to its core. Rørvik’s sensitive narrative films include Scratch, which won the Best Fiction award at the Aubagne International Film Festival 2010. My Friend Kills Time marks a step towards a looser and more documentary form of storytelling for the director—and ushers in NOWNESS' “Shorts on Sundays” series, dedicated to premiering innovative work from emerging filmmakers. As Duggan’s protagonist builds a house of cards and watches them collapse or drums his fingers on the table to pass the hours, the only interruption is the occasional ring of his mobile phone, reminding him of the outside world. “I wanted to bridge something naturalistic and spontaneous with something poetic,” explains Rørvik of his process, which involved working with Duggan to draw out a fictional character. “The idea of not being around people and the hustle and bustle of London frightened me. Questioning that fear was my starting point.”