This is my most recent oil portrait, a large canvas of my long-term friend and collaborator, Dane Hurst.
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.
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.
I recently shot the promo photography for a new dance piece by Didy Veldman called "The Knot", which has just been highly lauded by The Guardian. Poster with my photo below:
The theme of the work is marriage and relationships, put simply. We did the shoot before the choreography had been started, but Didy had a lot of creative thoughts and energy which we were able to discuss and use as inspiration. This is my favourite image from the shoot, featuring Dane Hurst and Madeleine Jonnson, and shot in the Royal Ballet School and in the grounds of Richmond Park, West London.
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.
If you are in York in November, come and see my debut film 'Primitive' at the Aesthetica Film Festival. most recent screening since the Lincoln Center, NYC, I am really pleased with the film's reception on the festival circuit.
This film festival is run by the arts magazine Aesthetica. It's a fantastic event, and has been granted the status of BAFTA recognition, so it's a real privilege to be part of the line-up. Screenings will take place 5-8th November 2015.
Here's the trailer, to whet the appetite...
The duet which had audiences on their feet and put tears in eyes was performed again at the Wilderness Festival last weekend. This time Dane Hurst performed the core duet from 'Finding Freedom' with Romany Pajdak of the Royal Ballet, and the duo went down a storm, by all accounts.
Last month I took some promotional shots during a rehearsal of the piece. If you missed the piece at Wilton's or Wilderness, there will be further opportunities to see it soon. Some big plans are in the works!
Here is a clip of Dane Hurst and Amy Thake working on a duet for 'Finding Freedom' in the rehearsal studios of Rambert.
The piece is about a man locked in prison, separated from the woman he loves. He is tortured by being unable to reach her. He holds on to the slender thread of hope of being reunited with her, but ever struggles with the fear she will leave him while he is helpless in prison.
When Dane was creating the choreography, he conceived of a section where the man and woman dance a heart-rending, intimate duet where the couple move together so intimately, but without actually making physical contact. This tension of restraint builds until it is finally released in a beautifully tender lift at the end.
The music to which they are dancing is from a piece which I composed for the performance. It is called 'Breaking Through' and forms the musical centrepiece of 'Finding Freedom'. It accompanies this encounter between the prisoner and his love as she tries desperately to reach him through the armour he has donned to protect himself from fear.
This fear is represented elsewhere in the piece as a daemon aggressor, an incubus who comes to torture the prisoner in his dreams, threatening to steal his love while he lies incarcerated and helpless.
The piece is about a struggle. It feels like a struggle with an external adversary, but really it’s a struggle within yourself. Inside the heart of every artist - every person- if you look deep enough you find your greatest enemy and your greatest love. Carl Jung described them as archetypes: the Shadow and the Anima. Finding these cut off parts of our souls and rejoining with them, Jung thought, is the great journey of opening up to all our potentialities as a human individual. It’s the barriers in the mind between them which form our prison. The key, the way to break down these walls is creativity.
'Finding Freedom' will be performed this coming Saturday night (27th September 2014). Tickets are in short supply but you can watch the performance streamed live to all the billions of people across the internet by following the link on the Wilton's Music Hall webpage.