The Multitalented Musician and Actress Duets with Ariel Pink Over a Bittersweet LA Tale
A street-stranded mermaid fends off a kitsch beast in Monster Love, a new VHS-recorded promo directed by Soko, who also stars alongside Morgan Krantz and actor, model and marine activist Hannah Fraser. Filmed in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles, the short is soundtracked by a song that shares its title, the French polymath’s brand new duet with Los Angeles’ lo-fi underground star, Ariel Pink, that will feature on her forthcoming album. “The whole thing was super DIY and felt like making a school project video with all my friends,” she says. Born in Bordeaux, Soko has starred in a number of films in her homeland, and recently attracted much acclaim in Augustine, a sensuous, César-nominated tale about a 19th-century maid consigned to an asylum. But despite her passion for acting, music remains Soko’s most cherished source of creativity. She has just released her debut album I Thought I Was an Alien in the US, which opens with the stripped-down and haunting track that also features here: “I Just Want to Make It New With You,” written with her collaborator Pink in mind. “We were friends, falling in love, but he was just out of a relationship and I—as always—was broken hearted,” the singer says of a near miss that was the catalyst for today’s film, in which she falls for the luckless protagonist. “We hadn’t shed the heaviness of our past. I imagined that after relationships, we all turn into some sort of monster, and only if we stop being monstrous will we ever be able to be real lovers again.” We got the two together to talk about recording, acting, and the logistics behind becoming a mermaid.
Ariel Pink: The song “I Just Want to Make It New With You” has to do with me a little bit, right?
Soko: Yeah, I wrote it for you Ariel! And you’re singing on the first song in the film, “Monster Love.”
AP: I saw the video and, like all your work, it’s so good. It’s touching, I can’t help but feel for the character. Who the beautiful mermaid lady?
S: She’s actually a real mermaid performer—it’s my friend Hannah who does performances in Las Vegas. She goes swimming with sharks, whales and dolphins all over the world, and hand makes her own costumes. She’s really incredible. She gave me some footage of her swimming under water so that the monster could dream of her. Morgan’s costume was actually a Halloween costume made by my friend Diva: it was perfect, a monster costume with a heart on it.
AP: It’s so great, all this attention you’re getting. And your new movie [Augustine] just came out. How do you feel about the movie and your performance?
S: It was crazy, insane and one of the best things I have done in my whole life. It was the best adventure and experience because it was so far from me. The only reason why I wanted to do movies was because I want to experience things I would never get to experience in my real life. And then I get to be in a film where I’m back in the 1880s in costume, wearing a corset, being a patient in a mental hospital and getting diagnosed.
AP: You’re not acting. You probably would be committed to a mental institution.
S: Yeah right! Well I was paralyzed in the movie, I had my eyes shut for half of the movie and I had my hand paralyzed. I don’t have that in my real life.
AP: Well let’s hope not. I think that’s amazing. I want to make a video with you sometime. I want you to be in my movie when I make it.
S: I wanted you to be in my video.
AP: Me too, but you know how busy we are.
S: But I’m glad throughout the years we always get to collaborate and you are always a part of my creative work as a constant pole and an inspiring muse. It is really important for me, and I love making music with you too.
AP: Oh my God, we have to make so much more together. There is so much left to do, we have just scratched the surface.
Spike Jonze Films the French Starlet's Extraterrestrial Affair For Her Latest Video
French singer and actress Soko, aka Stéphanie Sokolinski, beams an interplanetary romance story to our screens in her dreamy video for “I Thought I Was An Alien”, filmed by genius director Spike Jonze. The pair previously collaborated together on Jonze's beguiling stop-frame animation Mourir Auprès de Toi, premiered on NOWNESS, for which Soko provided the voice over and music. This time Soko directed herself, her brother Maxime and Jonze’s brother, music producer and composer Sam Spiegel, in an alien love story set over a day and filmed by Jonze on an iPhone in Echo Park, Los Angeles. With a distinctly DIY aesthetic, the narrative is layered with found imagery of palm trees, fireworks, color-corrected photographs and tints. Currently acting in two French films, Friends From France and Augustine, the multi-talented Soko reveals the charming story behind the video.
Do you think you’re an alien?
I don’t have a lot of self-confidence so I always feel like I’m the weirdo and that maybe I’m from another planet. I don’t strongly believe in aliens but I think the myths surrounding them are fascinating. I wonder if we’re all aliens. Maybe there are other people on other planets; they’re probably just the same as us and struggling with the same things.
How did you and Spike Jonze first meet?
I was going to play the robot girl in his short film I’m Here but was under 25, which was against Absolut Vodka’s laws, who were funding it. From then Spike and I became friends. He got me involved in Mourir Auprès de Toi and I worked with Sam on the music. They said I had to write an upbeat happy song, which was really hard as I was right in the middle of recording my album and feeling all emotional. Sam gave me 30 minutes and a guitar. I came up with this silly riff, which they loved and put to the two skeletons having sex.
Did that naturally lead into working with Spike and Sam on the video for “I Thought I Was An Alien”?
Well they’re just my friends. I directed it, Spike filmed it, Sam’s in it playing the alien I fell in love with and my brother Max plays all the other shots of the alien. I knew that I wanted it to be a very linear story and I knew what I wanted to say. The main idea was an alien love story but the iPhone came up as I’m not very good at planning stuff and finding a camera, so Spike filmed it on an iPhone 8mm app.
Where did you find that incredible alien mask?
I was looking for an alien mask for my album artwork and Spike's friend Tony Gardner, who runs a special effects company called Alterian, let me borrow one for a day. I was staying at Sam’s house at the time so we shot the dancing and sex scene in his living room—which was so funny as he’s my close friend—and the rest around the local area. I had to make sure I caught Spike, Sam and Max together before they went surfing as I had such a short time frame before I had to return the mask.
The album I Thought I Was An Alien by Soko is out February 20, 2012.
France’s Lounge Lothario Shares His Damascene Moment in a Guy Aroch Film
Libidinous French musician Sébastien Tellier unveils his new spiritual self in director and fashion photographer Guy Aroch’s short. The singer waxes lyrical on God, Santa Claus and the color blue, and is seduced by his interviewer—model turned celebrated weather girl Lorraine Denis—into a sensual dreamscape. Featuring the track “Pépito Bleu” from Tellier’s latest album My God is Blue, the video is a change of pace for Israeli-born director Aroch, who has shot the likes of Vanessa Paradis and Christy Turlington and produced editorials for The New York Times, British Vogue and Marie Claire. “Sébastien is a unique thinker with a strong sense of humor, so I wanted to give him a fun platform to tell his story,” explains Aroch, who shares the musician's 70s-inspired aesthetic and voluptuous vision of femininity. Shedding the steamy skin of his previous LP Sexuality, Tellier’s fourth record sees his reinvention as a musical messiah heralding the dawn of L’Alliance Bleue. “I’d love people to say, ‘Tellier is the Dalí of music,’” offers the former Eurovision participant. “Dalí did something surreal yet pertinent, that’s why I love his work, and I hope to do that musically.” Here the eccentric visionary gets philosophical.
What is the message of My God is Blue?
What I try to do is encourage people to put dreams and imagination back into the heart of society. I want people to believe in something that doesn’t exist. God? Why not? But the Loch Ness monster, unicorns and Santa Claus also work. We should accept forces that surpass us.
How do you avoid being repetitive?
I try to renew myself constantly. Between each album, I change personality, clothes, car and apartment. I try and like films I used to hate. Once I feel I’ve entered a new cycle, that I’m truly different, I know I’m ready to create a new album. Otherwise, what is the point?
What is the biggest change with this album?
For this album, I didn’t want to look at the past or look at my childhood memories. Instead, I imagined the future. I wanted to be a soothsayer, create the pop of the future. The best way to summarize the album is that it uses strength to talk about tenderness.
I wanted to convey the vision of a tiny little human standing next to an immense, bright blue tidal wave. I wanted to remind people of the minuscule-ness of human kind.
What are your predictions about the future?
I don’t imagine a very happy future for our planet. I feel we are reaching the end of a cycle, we are entering a new cycle, and this transition could be a very difficult moment to go through.
What is the L’Alliance Bleue?
It is a movement I am creating around this album. People will soon be able to register online and take personality tests to gauge their imagination potential. They will be able to give donations, and strips of land on which we—me and the faithful—will all live together. We will create a new, better world that people will enter to live truly free lives. Surgeons will become poets; their donations will be used towards their own new lives, like a gift to themselves. For example, the money could be used for fireworks in their honor after they read their first poem.
What would you do in L’Alliance Bleue?
My dream is to become a scientist. These are the most important people in the world. What you want from life is to feel good and to live forever, and only science can bring this to us. I think the world should be solely composed of scientists—who kill illnesses and make us eternal—and artists, to entertain them.
What does freedom mean to you?
Freedom is about needing nothing, about being a sophisticated savage. It’s about listening to your desires with refinement, and to live in wilderness, only with more thought.
For an exclusive album of behind the scenes images from the shoot visit our Facebook page.