The Music of Falling Man The creation of the musical score of Falling Man represents almost two years of creative work. It is an intensely personal series of pieces, as much as the overall work is personal for both Dane Hurst and myself.
This personal dimension is reflected in the different genres and influences which have made their way into the music - from Japanese minimalism to show tunes, from breakcore to Keith Jarrett, Quincy Jones to Bach. They all represent something important to me, each being steps in my musical journey through life. Maybe the challenge of trying to get such disparate sounds and styles to gel into a cohesive whole in some way in my mind reflects the process of trying to make sense of all the myriad (and often contending) facets of oneself. There are pieces which represent the happiest and some the saddest moments from this time.
The voice of Falling Man you will hear is that of Apricity - a talented young artist from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have been collaborating with her for a couple of years now, and it is a real privilege to have her beautiful vocals contributing to the piece. She sings various parts throughout Falling Man, including the refrains of ‘A Better Word Than Love’, and of course the two cover songs in the piece.
Those two pieces are ‘All Is Full of Love’ by Björk, and ‘Falls to Climb’ by R.E.M., both very special songs. Björk’s classic really lodged its place in my heart when I saw it performed at Glastonbury. It was quite something to see Björk simultaneously render thousands of people so totally spellbound. She really managed to conjure that often elusive sense of spiritual connection between absolute strangers in this magical moment - you could really feel the truth of the song’s sentiment.
‘Falls to Climb’ is not one of R.E.M.’s better known works. But to me it epitomises Michael Stipe’s lyrical genius, which so inspired Thom Yorke amongst many others. The duets which Dane has choreographed for these work beautifully, I feel.
‘Falling Man’ is not about men or masculinity only. There is a continual interplay of masculine and feminine energy throughout the piece, in the music, choreography, and film sections.
With the Wilton's performances now only a week away...
It's a cover of Bjork's All Is Full of Love, and is a special track to me, ever since I heard her perform it on the Other Stage at Glastonbury - one of the best atmosphere's of any festival gigs I've ever experienced. You could really feel the unity and connection between everyone in the crowd, enhanced and reflected in the beautiful vocal by the Icelandic artist.
This version is admittedly darker, but Apricity's vocal lights up the night with her naturally rich and lush tones. I'm looking forward to getting this performed live before the public.
Here's a new track I've been working on as part of a bigger project coming soon. It's based on techno, but it refers to acid too, especially in the monosynth 303 lines. Redlof by AFX was an inspiration - an unusual but compelling track by the great man. Interesting leaving things to four on the floor for once...
Last week at the Hammersmith Lyric, Dane Hurst performed the first stages of our work on a new piece called 'Falling Man', for which I composed the music. The performance was part of the Ignition dance festival, a great platform for independent creatives in the dance industry.
Falling Man is about great challenges which Dane and I have faced, and I felt I wanted to put the journey of this subject into a story with music. Dane's performance and choreography was immediately arresting, it made the hairs on my arm stand on end while I was watching. The reviewers seem to like it too:
Now we are going to continue the develop the piece, it represents a very personal watershed for both of us.
Laurel is an accomplished wordsmith with a heavenly voice, Anteros a brutally exciting pop rock band ("bitter dream pop" in their own words), both are set for great things. The gig was a massive hit- such a contrast of styles working so well is testament to the curatorial nouse of the teams at Clash Magazine and Metropolis. Click the image below to link to an exclusive gallery of my photographs over at Clash now
Billboard features one of my Foo Fighters shots in an article about the world's top recording studios. Metropolis Studios of course makes the list, and my photograph of Dave Grohl and the boys when they dropped in before Glastonbury shows them smelling of roses in Studio A lounge.
Available in print or online. Read the full article here
Here's some more of my album artwork which - this time for insane electro-rock annihilist Boblog III. I especially like how the gatefold came out:
Manchester's IAMDDB is one of the hottest artists on the British R&B and Soul scene. Her live sets are beautiful and irreverent, and her adoring crowd love it. Here's a gallery of shots I took of her performing in London recently over at Clash Magazine.
Just before headlining Glastonbury, the Foo Fighters were in Metropolis Studios, where I took a set of photos of the seminal band. They were lovely guys: down to earth, fun, and interested in the history of the prestigious London recording studio, and Dave Grohl cheekily teased me for the way I rolled up a cigarette with the paper stuck to my lip.
I shall be releasing the photos first on Instagram but in the meantime here is a portrait of the much loved Mr Grohl
UPDATE* The video is now live on Youtube, please like and share!
My current project is artwork and a music video for the release of the track 'Murphy's Law' by a great new band called James King and the Regals, whom I also shot recently:
The song describes a tussle with pessimism, personified in the figure of Mr Murphy - named after the inventor of the famous more formulated version of sod's law. I recall that the real Murphy himself was a test pilot, whose catchphrase was "If anything can go wrong it will go wrong". A wise axiom for a man who flew around on glorified bombs.
Nevertheless, for the rest of us this view is a perspective which can have a more negative meaning. My reaction to the song was that it embodied both negativity in the shadow figure of Murphy, as well as positivity, actually represented by the artist creatively reflecting on his experience of pessimism, thus asserting some kind of resistance if not mastery to such a gloomy thought process.
This was my thinking when coming up with the creative for the video. In order to embody this opposition of positive and negative, I felt I wanted to contrast images of life with death: exuberant colour with dark monochrome setups; lavish rushes of light with deep black; the denuded skeleton or skull against beautiful and lavishly dressed and styled female forms; movement against stasis; and other technical contrasts such as crisp cinematic definition footage shot on Arri against degraded handycam video.
This is the artwork I created for the digital release, based on composited stills from the video:
Perhaps the concepts which I just described are visible in the juxtaposition of almost Victorian cameo portrait of the model (talented singer Emma Lauran) against the skull from my anatomical skeleton, whom I have named Yorick, along with fluorescent video distortion against clean monochrome lettering.
At any rate, it went down well with the band.
Below is short clip from the video which was cut to trail the digital release. I enjoy punchy editing contrasted with slower sections, but this bit is from the end of the song where it's mostly the former. If you follow my Instagram stories, you probably noticed the featuring 'power zooms' which I've grown to love over the last few months. The other model in the video is the fantastic Liv Turnbull, and you can see some shots I took of her here.
The full music video will be out soon. If you like what you see or would like to comment, do get in touch or follow me on Vimeo
So after an 18 month break I have decided to start filing blog posts again. In this hiatus, I realised I have been building up quite a bank of topics, meditations, and anecdotes to write about, so if you follow my visual / audio work, watch this space for some long overdue literary output. I know a lot of you used to read my blog articles regularly, so I apologise for the pause. But sometimes a holiday is as good as a change.
Over the last year I've been working a lot on portrait and music photography, and have been focussing my film work on music videos - namely two videos for God Damn (One Little Indian Records) - songs called 'Ghost' and 'Sing This'; a video for 'Losing My Mind' by Metropolis Records artist LOOP; and I'm about to release my latest work for a great track called 'Murphy's Law' by James King and the Regals, a fantastically talented new artist set to make a big splash on the indie music scene. So I figure this latest project is the good place to (re)start...
This October I shall be involved in the capacities of composer and photographer in an exciting new project at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Conceived of by Dane Hurst, the evening will feature a set of dance pieces in the gallery space inspired by the 17th century French artist Prud'hon. I shall be photographing the dancers as they perform and the resulting images will be projected live on to screens in the gallery space. The audience will be able to move around the dancers, immersing themselves in the performance from any position. There is the opportunity for audience members to take sketches, with the gallery's life-drawing tutor on hand.
Musically, I shall have several pieces being performed, including the 'Breaking Through' duet from Finding Freedom, and a new piece entitled 'Goodbye in the Night'.
The event will take place over two evenings on 16th and 17th October this year.
Kicking off my creative work for 2015 with the promo for 'Dreamers' by OFEI. This film was shot before Christmas in Metropolis Recording Studios - a big thank you to everyone there for all their support! I had spent a lot of time re-watching the pioneering work in the golden age of the music video - the early 90s. Faith No More, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Seal, as well as a bunch of James Bond intros... They deeply inspired this video. And the result is it looks nothing like any of them to anybody except myself, perhaps...