The Elfin Icelandic Singer Gets a CGI Makeover by Shynola
The computer-generated portrait of ethereal singer-songwriter Emilíana Torrini floats and multiplies in the experimental video for her standout track “Tookah”, directed by pioneering British visual artist trio Shynola, aka Richard Kenworthy, Chris Harding and Jason Groves. “I loved the idea of being a creepy mermaid singing and luring the viewer into the dark,” muses Torrini, who has been nominated for four honors at this February’s Icelandic Music Awards. “To be honest if they said the idea was me playing a unicorn dancing on a rainbow, along with some gummy bears, I would have done it. I’m just glad it wasn't that.” “Tookah” comes from the album of the same name; the word was invented by Torrini to describe a subtle kind of emotional state or inner inspiration. “Happiness and love were things that always hijacked me but Tookah is something gentler, like a whisper,” she says. “It is gentle and breezy and peaceful with bags of humor.” NOWNESS spoke to Shynola, who have made videos for U.N.K.L.E, Blur and Radiohead and recently short film Dr. Easy for Warp, about this latest collaboration.
What was your inspiration behind Emilíana’s siren-like floating head?
Shynola: We’re fascinated by the idea of the ‘uncanny valley’ [when a computer generated image looks like a person, but not quite]. There’s something unsettling about it, yet you cannot take your eyes off it. This led us to cast Emilíana as some sort of mysterious CGI siren. Our hope is that you think it is both pretty and weird at the same time.
Did you take your visual cues from the music?
S: That’s always the guiding force behind every music video we make. It’s our job to make visuals that intertwine with the music, hopefully in unexpected ways. Quite often you see music videos where you could replace the sound to no discernible difference. To us that is a failure.
What’s it like working with Emilíana?
S: Singers often have a twinkle in their eye that’s hard to define and Emilíana certainly has that. A singing CGI model of their own head would freak most people out. She was more amazed than repulsed, thankfully.
Tookah is out now on Rough Trade.
The Mercury-Nominated Artist Delves Into the Mindbending Roots of Her Music
“Memories always change,” says Anglo-Italian singer-songwriter Anna Calvi of the inspiration behind her second album, One Breath. “The fact that they fade is sad but healing, and something I wanted to explore.” Swiss filmmaker Karim Huu Do’s lyrical short unpicks Calvi’s beginnings as a musician as she visits the wine-soaked haunts and rural edgelands of Clermont-Ferrand during her recent spate of concerts in France. “I enjoy touring, taking my guitar around and playing to people every night,” says Calvi on the eve of a European jaunt that starts with a Dublin show on February 1. “It feels like a trade, which I like.” The ferocious intensity of the London-born singer’s voice and guitar and the boldness of her Spanish matador-inspired stage style has attracted the attention of Gucci’s Frida Giannini, who designed outfits for her 2011 American tour, and Karl Lagerfeld, who photographed her for Maison Michel’s fall/winter campaign in the same year. Her role of rock pin-up and fashion muse contrasts with her decidedly more introspective everyday persona. “Music gives me a space in which I can be more courageous,” she says of the discrepancy. “There are not that many places in life where you can find a similar kind of strength and fearlessness.”
Anna Calvi's One Breath is available now on Domino.
Kaleidoscopic Waves Crash to the Beat in Studio Remote's Hypnotizing Work
Capturing multicolored cascades of digital compression, Data Waterfall is a sublime, sound-reactive film created by Adam Rodgers, whose experimental work has led to commissions for Jake and Dinos Chapman, and longtime collaborator Warp Records. Since developing pioneering online experiences for the British label’s roster including Boards of Canada and Flying Lotus, Rodger’s Studio Remote (formerly known as Remote Location) produced a 12-hour, online installation for Brian Eno. Today’s psychedelic piece is inspired by Gerhard Richter's abstract paintings and the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Predator, and deploys a real-time dynamic that sees movement triggered by the musical soundtrack from precocious hip-hop producer, Hudson Mohawke. The thunderous beat is taken from Warp's online game Butterstar Galactica, a collaboration with artist Thomas Traum and creative coder Mike Tucker. “Data Waterfall represents an element of nature by using digital methods,” explains Rodgers, who is also co-founder of the record label, Numbers. “I love the idea of elements like clouds being commandeered for use in a digital context, and this film is intended as an extension of that expression.”