King Krule Joins the South London Drifters on a Journey Into the Edgelands
“Where should we escape when we have no place to go?” muses Swedish director Marcus Söderlund of his new video to introspective electronic duo Mount Kimbie’s sweeping single, “You Took Your Time,” filmed on location just outside London in the marshy, urban landscape of Tilbury, Essex. “In a more equal society, the suburbs wouldn’t be places you have to leave.” The director is best known for his iconic monochrome video to The xx’s, “VCR.” “I love color. But I also find it really calming to work in black and white, it’s like your senses becomes sharper once you desaturate.” The song features the hostile vocal flow of 19-year-old rapper, King Krule aka Archy Marshall, and is taken from Warp Records-released Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, Mount Kimbie’s follow-up to the acclaimed debut Crooks & Lovers. NOWNESS spoke to Kai Campos—one half of the band alongside Dominic Maker—about their creative collaborations.
What’s the song about? It seems to be a collection of mini narratives.
Kai Campos: The thing about King Krule’s lyrics is that his style of writing is really stream of consciousness. A lot of abstract, dream imagery comes out, to paint a wonderfully detailed picture.
What was it that drew you to work with Marcus Söderlund?
KC: Initially, I was a little bit wary of its urban look, but the quality of his work and his aesthetic style persuaded me that he was the right person to go with and I love it. The main thing I wanted to avoid was a moral to the story. That’s not what we do musically, and I don’t think that would have worked, especially for this song. So I wanted it to have a lot of strong imagery in it.
Can you tell us what you think is the most successful element of the video?
KC: The thing I like about it is Marcus’ compassionate portrayal of his characters. You can imagine the location being on the outskirts of any city, really, but he’s not patronizing. He doesn’t give any easy conclusions.
The Avant-Soul Collaborators Blast Back Onto Our Radar with an Intense Paean to Nature
The melancholic and soulful voice of Alexis Taylor overlays an explosive, arborous montage in the video for About Group’s new single “All Is Not Lost.” The dramatic images were selected by the Swedish director and artist Henrik Håkansson from his own project, “Aug. 11, 2012 Symptoms Of The Universe Studies (6min 29 Sec)”, that focuses on two individual black alder trees–already slated for destruction–being torn apart in footage that was taken from different angles and at contrasting speeds. Spliced in with this is slow-motion film of butterflies in flight that was shot by Håkansson at high frame rates of 4000-7000 per second. “I had seen his work before and liked the films of insects, flying or being squashed in slow motion. I thought he could make something beautiful,” says Taylor, who splits his time between About Group and his duties with pan-genre dance outfit, Hot Chip. In About Group, Taylor is joined by a trio of fellow English experimentalists in guitarist John Coxon, drummer and founder of This Heat, Charles Hayward, and jazz and reggae keyboardist, Pat Thomas. The quartet’s second album Between the Walls, due out on Domino in July, was recorded with a mix of free-form improvisation and a desire to tap into the emotional resonance of Taylor’s songwriting that permeates today’s bittersweet track.
Where does the feeling of heartbreak in “All Is Not Lost” come from?
Alexis Taylor: It relates to the divide between one’s sense of self, which might be a fantasy, and what others see of you. You can be both a fantasist and a realist—perhaps the two things conflict and perhaps they don’t need to, but either way you are struggling to make sense of it. It’s also about a small child’s unawareness of these potential conflicts: they have joy in playing and don’t measure fantasy against reality, while the adult grows up to see pleasure in sunlight and the dawning of a new day, but also struggles at times to make things work or be happy. It’s about coming to terms with those conflicts.
Could you take us through the process of writing the song?
AT: The lyrics are taken from personal experience, but in terms of chords and subject matter it also owes a lot to R. Kelly’s song “Reality.” I began cycling round the two chords on my Rhodes electric piano, the cyclical “all is not lost” mantra. The chord sequence has the same intervals as those found in hundreds of late 90s and early 00s R&B songs that I love, and I’m interested in the fact that they share these same two minor chords, almost like a modern-day 12-bar blues or gospel equivalent, that you can hear in Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine,” “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” by Jennifer Lopez, “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” by Whitney Houston and almost every R. Kelly ballad on the album R.
What are your top five heartbreak songs?
AT: “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton, “Be Careful” by Sparkle feat R. Kelly, “You Never Really Wanted Me” by Charlie Rich, “Old Friends 4 Sale” by Prince, and “Knowing Me, Knowing You” by Abba.
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.