The Bat For Lashes Songstress Heads For the Hollywood Hills in a Self-Directed Short
“I wanted to explore a trashy, playful, US motel aesthetic, like Patricia Arquette in True Romance,” says London-born Natasha Khan, better known as Mercury nominated singer-songwriter Bat For Lashes, of shooting YMC-styled fashion film Under the Indigo Moon in LA. The sepia-coated, sun-kissed road trip was shot on 16mm and sees the baroque-pop chanteuse driving along the snaking Sunset Boulevard with her LA-based buddy, former Devendra Banhart drummer Gregory Rogove. Khan was raised on a diet of Kate Bush and Tori Amos, whose soft-focus influence courses through the short’s soundtrack that was created over an afternoon in a Cali studio with Beck. “I have loved Beck for years,” she says. “We started working together about three years ago; I stayed with him for three weeks, and we jammed out and generated a lot of material. He’s got loads of weird dulcimers, amazing drum machines and really obscure instruments that make wonderful sounds.” The clip was produced by Lana Del Rey collaborator Neil Krug and heralds Khan’s foray into filmmaking, a hobby she plans to turn into a long-term pursuit.
Would you ever consider making a full-length film?
Natasha Khan: I’m writing a screenplay for a short for FilmFour. It’s a really dark, gritty, family based drama, with hints of magic realism. We’re going into pre-production soon with a view to make it into a feature-length film in the next couple of years. I’ve got some things up my sleeve with my producer Dan Carey, so I want it to be a music and visual collaboration. I’m going to illustration classes at the moment, and I’ve got a huge desire to tell stories through film and paintings rather than just music, so Bat For Lashes is on hold for the meanwhile.
Are there any lynchpin directors you can pinpoint as influential?
NK: Funnily enough, David Lynch was a lynchpin! In my early 20s, I was obsessed with Eraserhead, Wild At Heart, The Elephant Man, Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet. I used to go to midnight screenings in Brighton, seeing films by Roman Polanski, Gregg Araki, Ingmar Bergman, Lars Von Trier... I could go on forever.
In terms of music, who are the artists that you look up to?
NK: I’ve always loved how artists like Patti Smith and PJ Harvey explore popular portrayals of the female form. When I was a teenager, I saw a picture of PJ in a big, padded bra that she wasn’t filling out, I know that she was trying to present something outside of the norm: a nakedness not meant for the male gaze.
The Explosive Japanese Acid-Punk Band Lose Themselves in Marie Schuller’s Matrix
The intensity of avant-rockers Bo Ningen collides with director Marie Schuller’s geometric world in the hallucinatory film for “Slider.” “I shot them in their most natural habitat—performing live,” says the German-born, London-based filmmaker. “By capturing them in such a raw way, my job was to create a surreal, unapologetic and unforgiving world around them.” Influenced by krautrock, punk and Japanese pop, the band take sartorial cues from more unlikely places. “Japanese pro-wrestlers, not rock stars, are my style heroes,” says bassist and vocalist Taigen Kawabe, perhaps alluding to the cameo of two bare-chested fighters grappling in today’s film. “Especially those who fight the death match—they go and sell merchandising straight afterwards, covered in their own blood.” Fetish pin-up Anita de Bauch and mature model Alex B also feature in Schuller’s video. “I am much more interested in storylines that remain abstract,” says Schuller, who had work screened at Cannes 2013 and is head of fashion film at SHOWstudio. “The characters represent different layers from the song—their scenes are all glimpses into unresolved storylines, which remain a mystery throughout.”
“Slider” is co-written by King Midas Sound's Roger Robinson. Bo Ningen’s new album III also features Savages' Jehnny Beth and is out now on Stolen Recordings. The band support Black Sabbath at Hyde Park, London on July 4.
Animator Galen Pehrson Takes the Folk Star on a Psychotropic Trip Into the Dark Heart of Hollywood
Avant-folk singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart builds upon his stellar collection of video collaborations with a subversive and moody new piece from rising animator and director Galen Pehrson. Conceived in the tradition of Mondo—the 1960s sub-genre associated with exploitation, death and taboo—Mondo Taurobolium uses the eponymous track “Taurobolium” from Banhart’s latest album Mala as a backdrop. The experimental narrative takes dark and existential turns into the murky underbelly of Hollywood fame and finds the duck-like character Mondo at its center, reeling in a state of disillusionment following a wave of torrential success. Mondo’s counterpart is Gale, voiced by cult favorite Rose McGowan as the beaked female lead who accompanies him through back alleys and night crawls of Los Angeles. “I think it’s easier to trust an animal without scrutinizing its actions,” says Pehrson, who has collaborated with Banhart on the cover of his album Cripple Crow and the video to “I Feel Just Like a Child,” and has recently shot a series of enviable commissions from MOCA, Death Grips, James Franco and Talib Kweli. “I think it’s something we learn while watching cartoons when we’re young. There’s often a moral undertone to them—here, it’s same idea just with more mature and complex topics.”
Hand-drawn 2D animation is something of a dying art. What inspires you to stay the course?
Galen Pehrson: I enjoy drawing and making little worlds. The passion comes from the feeling of seeing a character come to life, or clouds blowing over a landscape. It’s not a passion reserved for animation but for sharing, creating and collaborating.
Is the process quite drawn out and isolating?
GP: I spend months alone. This piece took four months. I counted something like 2,140 hours. The one day I took off, I ran my car over a boulder.
What animation directors have inspired you lately?
GP: I recently discovered Sally Cruikshank—a cab driver turned me on to her work and my mind was blown. I feel like we might be kindred spirits.
What themes do you find yourself exploring over and over again?
GP: I think the biggest theme is nighttime. I work through the night, and there’s a different feeling in the air: a kind of stillness and clarity that I’m grasping at and trying to relay.