Emilíana Torrini: Tookah

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.

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