Vincent Haycock Casts Three Brothers From Compton for the London Producer’s Stirring New Release
“Everything in the video is their real life,” says director Vincent Haycock of the Mays boys, who he cast for this magic realist visual accompaniment to London composer and producer Raffertie’s new track “Build Me Up,” after meeting the youngest brother Demantre while location scouting in South Central, Los Angeles. “Every cast member is their friend, son, or cousin, and all the locations are their houses and neighborhood,” explains the filmmaker, whose previous work includes videos for Florence and the Machine, Spiritualized and Calvin Harris. “Most of the scenes were based on what they wanted to do as opposed to me giving them too much direction. The only thing I made up was the idea of death—all the brothers are alive and well.” The occasional special effect adds a surreal, poetic element to Haycock’s fictionalized rendition of the Mays’ intense lives in the video produced by Somesuch & Co, rendering a portrait of the cyclical nature of life while forming a narrative mirror of the looping, primal track, taken from Raffertie’s album due out on Ninja Tune later this year. “One of the aspects I liked most was the idea of turning the breaks in the song’s structure into natural pauses for the voice-overs,” he says. “A musical element was still required here though so I composed some extra music derived from the choral backing vocals.” Next up for Haycock is a video for Rihanna—“It will be a complete 180 degree turn from this project,” he reveals—while Raffertie will release the Build Me Up EP on May 20.
You have a background in musical composition—when you are composing, do you ever have visuals in mind?
Raffertie: Music is very visual for me. Often there are many images that go around my mind when listening to or making music. It happens the other way around as well, when I look at things, and witness events, ideas spring to mind that tend to be musical in nature.
What music videos or visual/musical collaborations have most inspired you in the past and why?
R: Zatorski and Zatorski and Philip Glass in The Last 3600 Seconds of a Wasp. The film documents the last hour of the life of a wasp, which fell onto its back and was unable to right itself. Set to Glass’ Metamorphosis, the combination of what I was seeing augmented by this music caused such a visceral reaction in me.
Have any screen soundtracks left their mark on you of late?
R: I feel that film music has become quite homogeneous, but two soundtracks have stood out recently. The first was the original music composed for Tyrannosaur by Chris Baldwin and Dan Baker. The film is one of the most depressing, harrowing and horrific films I have seen for a while and the music illustrates that exceptionally with its unusual pallet of sounds. The second is the soundtrack of recent British TV series Utopia, which was written by Cristobal Tapia de Veer. Like the imagery of the show, it feels almost hyperreal. Moving from quirky to dark and from abstract to serene, the soundtrack is a timbral adventure.
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 Legendary Director Peels Back the Layers On His Ideals of Beauty
In a New York hotel, prolific Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar muses upon femininity and beauty in light of his current macabre pulp fiction movie, The Skin I Live In. Acknowledging how his matriarchal upbringing and the advent of 1960s pop culture informed his vision, Almodóvar reveals to filmmaker Alison Chernick his obsession with strong and stunning women such as screen icons Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn, and of course Penélope Cruz, the star of several of his notable films including All About My Mother and Volver. His 19th feature, an audacious contribution to the body horror canon adapted from Thierry Jonquet’s novella Tarantula, sees Almodóvar reunited with Antonio Banderas for the first time in 21 years, with the actor starring as a plastic surgeon who experiments upon his exquisite young captive, Vera (Elena Anaya). “It was deceiving,” Chernick says. “In front of me was this gentle and playful teddy bear-like man, responsible for the madness of this insane revenge horror saga. The film plays with our expectations in a similar fashion to the way our own minds do.”