Backwards is the New Forwards

Techniques and gimmicks have been a constant presence in music videos. Directors and artists are always looking for something new or ways to improve (or so we hope). One technique that I love is backwards motion. Now fair enough, I have seen my fair share of music videos which have used this method and definitely not done it justice (apologies), however there are plenty out there that have done an amazing job such as Coldplay’s “The Scientist” by Jamie Thraves and  The Pharcyde’s “Drop” by Spike Jones among others such as Jack Johnson’s “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing”, and Enigma’s “Return to Innocence”.  The concept of not just backwards motion, but forward singing was perfected more so by Spike Jones, but began with Danny Wilson in 1989 with the video for their song “The Second Summer of Love”. This lovely, elongated trial of making artist learn their songs backwards is painful in thought but fabulous as a result.

 

One of last week’s Listen Up! tracks exemplified this method as a way to reinvent the singular shot.  I love videos that focus on a singular artist and a singular space and in one continuous shot. It is not an easy task to make this interesting. Videos such as Bjork’s “Cocoon” by Eiko Ishioka, Feist’s “My Moon, My Man”, Sia’s “Buttons”, Bat for Lashes “What’s a Girl to Do”, and Matt & Kim’s “Lessons Learned” all (kinda, somewhat, relatively, and in a round-about way) follow this idea and are definitely amongst some of the most creative.

A video that is backwards, with forward singing, with one artist, and in a singular space and in a continuous shot -you’re impressed now aren’t you is “White” by Charlotte Heatherley. An additional video of singularity in a creative way is  Radiohead’s “Lotus Flower”.

Enjoy!

Inspirations and Ass-Kickings

As we head into a new year there are still many loose ends to wrap-up, but looking back there are a lot of events that gave me the drive to keep going. November in particular presented 3 events that really kicked my ass into gear with some much-needed inspiration.

Getting my blood flowing and ideas bubbling was the one and only DJ Spooky aka Paul Miller and his interpretation of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation entitled Rebirth of a Nation. If you missed the show at TIFF Bell Lightbox (November 16 & 17, 2010) it’s is definitely worth the purchase, however if you ever get a chance to see Miller’s work live it’s a must-see. Seeing Miller work live is an experience; his creative talent is overflowing, but what really makes the show is the artist himself. To watch the work and then listen to Miller speak about the project and his passion, his intelligence and drive is undeniable. It was great to hear someone who comes from a more creative background speak about the marriage of screen and music. Being well-rounded and independent as a music supervisor is my goal, but my passion is the creative aspect and being able to mold what you are given to work with in order to make it complete; it’s about balance and emotion, and sometimes a little bit of pressure to get people to open their minds. I also had the opportunity to catch Miller’s Higher Learning presentation at TIFF in which he spoke more in depth about his work, the merger of music and film, copyright, and upcoming projects. I am eagerly awaiting upcoming projects including a musical work on Jean Cocteau’s “Blood of a Poet”. In the meantime I am working through his book Sound Unbound so expect many more updates and in the meantime pick up a copy of your own.

The following inspirational November event is my true-blue, guaranteed to make me feel better: Bedouin Soundclash and the newly titled Soundclan (© Sekou) including artists such as Charlie Winston and Michael Rault. Though the venue may not have been one of the best the show itself was phenomenal! Accompanied by my “Now in love with Charlie” friend (who will now kill me for that comment and thus I shall save myself by reminding her that she got to meet him) I had an amazing evening surrounded by great new music from all three mentioned artists. If there is one way to get you back on track with determination it’s good tunes to carry you though. As the September draft of Bedouin’s “Light on the Horizon” album critic sits sadly in my unfinished posts list, I was inspired to get the blog running again and (lucky for you) bombard you with delayed posts…fair warning.

My last and biggest inspiration came on November 23, when I was one of the very lucky few to sit in on an in-person Higher Learning event with none other than Tim Burton (Thank you Jesse). His work with Danny Elfman has always been one of my major reference points for music in film siting works from Edward Scissorhands and Nightmare Before Christmas to Big Fish. Burton was a creative inspiration and has become one of my biggest inspirations overall. He is very honest and kind when he speaks which naturally captured everyone’s attention. What really did it for me was really a very simple comment in which he told us, as young hopefuls, to be true to ourselves. Whether it’s a matter of just being yourself with all your quirks or staying true to your own vision of a project (be filmmaker, writer, or musicians alike) it is your passion that will see it through and the passion that others will notice. That was all I needed. It was the final push and a perfect example of why I love hearing people talk about their work: the passion. A project can be anywhere from incomprehensible to incredible but listening or reading the artists purpose, their goals, inspirations, and passion can take it to a whole new level of appreciation. Not only does the project become more understandable, but it becomes more powerful and the effects are much more lasting.

All of the artists from DJ Spooky, Bedouin Soundclash, to Tim Burton discuss their work allowing them to leave a lasting imprint. These are artists who are inspirational to me and their passion has sparked my own. It’s important to have and I guarantee that just by talking to someone you know about their inspirations will help you see how easily it can spread.

So get your ass in gear put on some great tunes or watch your favourite movie and get into YOUR SPACE! For you it’s the best place to be.

TIFF Continues a New Season Joined by the JUNO Awards

TIFF presents another amazing season putting their music presentations back into full gear. This time instead of featuring live music they are bringing a full series of Canadian musicians to you with “The JUNO Awards at 40: Celebrating Canadian Music on Film.” The presentation runs from Mar 20-26 and features 13 films about Canadian musicians. Introducing the films will names such as Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen (filmmakers/Banger), Sarah Harmer, Peter Mansbridge (CBC) and Amelia Curran, Stuart Berman (Author of This Book is Broken), Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor (Blue Rodeo), Richard Flohil (Concert Promoter and Music Publicist), and Canadian band Billy Talent. This series is an incredible look at some of Canada’s greatest musical talents in a variety of genres (see Junos & TIFF playlist in the right column). Music lovers (past, present, or future) make sure to book off your calendars as this series is NOT to be missed.

The films included are as follows:

Anvil! The Story of Anvil Introduced by Alan Cross

Blue Rodeo: In Stereovision Introduced by Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor

Escarpment Blues Introduced by Sarah Harmer

Festival Express Introduced by Richard Flohil

Hard Core Logo Introduced by Billy Talent

Lenard Cohen: I’m Your Man Introduced by Peter Mansbridge and Amelia Curran

Look at What the Light Did Now Introduced by Stuart Berman

Music from the Big House Introduced by Rita Chiarelli

Neil Young: Heart of Gold Introduced by Justin Rutledge and Suzie McNeil

Oscar Peterson: Keeping the Groove Alive Introduced by Kelly Peterson and Robi Botos

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage Introduced by Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould Introduced by Brian Levine with a special performance by pianist Claudia Chan

This Movie is Broken Introduced by Stuart Berman

*Each links to tiff.net for further information and schedule

Happy New Year!

Hello Music Lovers, Fanatics and sorts,

After a much-needed holiday detox (which I hope you enjoyed as well) things here are back up and running at full speed. The tail end of my year has been chaotic to say the least, but fantastic every step of the way. From the non-stop lifestyle of the Toronto International Film Festival and continuing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, which has made a significant contribution to the film community without shying away from its music consort, to working with International Composer Royalties, and working hard to keep up with friends, family and life as we know it- phew, it’s been quite a year. Now after some much need rest and some major inspiration it’s time to jump-start and keep things going. For your listening pleasure I have entered a new Listen Up! playlist full of home-grown talent. Make sure to stay posted with FootNote_Music on Twitter.

Enjoy and best wishes in the New Year!

The Bang Bang Club: Music that Defined an Era

From 1990 to 1994 during the end of South African Apartheid, four brave photographers sought to expose the reality of the situation. Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich, Ken Oosterbroek, and Joao Silva were the primary photographers of the Bang Bang Club, a name given to them by a South African journalist. “Bang bang” had been a term use to describe the soundscape of a country erupting into violence.

The Bang Bang Club was written by Marinovich and Silva in 2000 as a way to document their experiences and try to understand the boundaries of both photography and morality. The film adaption, set for release during the Toronto International Film Festival, is a joint Canadian-South African production by documentary film-maker Steven Silver (Shake Hands with the Devil). The music for the film was set by Toronto’s Vapor Music, who is well known for their involvement and promotion of Canadian Music around the globe. Music Supervisor David Hayman worked in conjunction with Shifty Records (South Africa) to create a soundtrack that would reflect the retelling and comply with a complex range of emotions. Using the music of South-African, Apartheid-era bands maintains the location and the time period of a brave, yet horrifying situation that forces us to question the “truth” and “humanity” of the world in which we live and presume to understand.

Hayman built an emotional soundtrack out of songs that would have been a part of the Bang Bang Club’s aural digestion during the early nineties. Hayman was approached by producer Daniel Irons (Away From Her) to create a soundtrack that was true to the time period; the pair had worked together previously on Cairo Time, winner of Best Canadian Feature at TIFF 2009. After viewing the film in its early stages, Hayman decided on a tone that would define the Bang Bang Club as individuals, keeping the music closer to the characters themselves than the overarching political struggle. Hayman wanted the style to be “serious but with a sense of playfulness.” He described the guys as “rock ‘n’ roll, very edgy and with grit.” “They were rough around the edges” and thus the music should be too. Music Placements such as Radiohead and the Velvet Underground reflects these characteristics aurally and stays true to the musical palate of the early 1990s. As Hayman said, “this is music [Carter] would have had knowledge of and would have played while DJ-ing.”

Along with Hayman’s personal views of the soundscape and Irons “keep it real” directions, Silver also pushed for authenticity which lead to the collaboration with Shifty Records in selecting bands such as Urban Creep and National Wake. Though Hayman stayed true to the request he still placed his own signature on the soundtrack by incorporating Canadian musician Jay Malinowski (Bedouin Soundclash). The track “Life is a Gun,” which appears on Malinowski’s solo album Bright Lights and Bruises, was re-recorded at Vapor Studios with fellow Canadian musician Jay Sparrow exclusively for the film. The acoustic version was selected after viewing a fan video on YouTube of Malinowski’s performance in February 2009 at Hillside Inside Music Festival.

As a proud supporter of Canadian music and promoter of its diversity, it’s no surprise that Hayman found a song that perfectly captured the characters and their story. The end product is an edgy and authentic sound that well defines four men surrounded by political turmoil and their aim to shoot reality.

All in the Family

When I started music in university my Mother said to me “I don’t know where you get it from”, referring to my musical abilities. My family always said they weren’t musical but they were lying to themselves. I never had formal training growing up. I was a child of the public school system and was simply fortunate that I had some great music teachers when I started and a general passion for music. The only formal lessons I ever took was for theory because it was the one thing high school wasn’t giving me. It was due to those teachers that I became technically inclined, but my passion stems from my family whether they admit it or not.

After spending this past weekend with family, I was reminded how musical they are -we’re all singers. No we are not von Trapp’s, it’s simply the easiest way to be musical. I went with my Aunt to her jam session this weekend (a new adventure for her which she started to learn guitar). While watching them play all I could think about is being little and sitting in the front seat of her little red car, Betsy, and listening to her sing along with the late 8Os pop songs on the radio. She introduced me to artists ranging from Michael Jackson to Peter, Paul and Mary -exposure is key as is the case with my Mother’s influence.

My Mother may not be one to sing but she is a music lover. As long as I wasn’t watching my after-school cartoons she had the radio on. We listened to pop, rock, country, celtic, oldies and whatever we could find. She always knew the artists I was listening to and I definitely shared her love of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. My Dad was a little different….. growing up I thought all he listened to was Patsy Cline and Bagpipe music. My Dad plays Bagpipes and I used to play snare drum in his pipe band at a time when I was too little to carry the drum on parade. It wasn’t until after my first year of university that I realized my Dad likes whatever is on the radio. I am sure you can understand my shock when driving down the road my Dad says “I really like this song” and we are listening to Float On by Modest Mouse….that’s a long ways away from Patsy Cline.

My grandparents being the head of the family are the most responsible for our musical inclinations. My grandmother still remembers the French songs she sang as a teenager and still has songs she wrote with her girlfriend when she was young. If you still have the songs you wrote with your friends keep them, your grand-kids will think it’s really cool.  Lastly, the patriarch himself, my grandfather, the true singer of the family. With a voice like Elvis Presley, he is always singing or humming. It’s so natural that sometimes I don’t even notice. He sings whatever pops into his head be it an old song (French or English), or just a tune he came up with. This weekend was the best when we were driving along listening to the radio and we both started singing along to Buffalo Springsteen. Hilarious, I am sure not too many people can say that about their grandparents.

So that’s the answer, that’s where the passion comes from and I am truly grateful that my inspiration comes from those closest to me: my family and friends.

“Film & Music Together”

Today, the Toronto International Film Festival released information on the new TIFF Bell Lightbox opening September 12, 2010. For music supervisors and music lovers the programming will not disappoint. The new Lightbox includes multiple galleries and cinemas including live orchestra pits. The Lightbox will be opening with The Essentials of Cinema which will include five musical showcases including two Toronto premieres and one World première.

The showcase of music and film begins September 28 with the #1 film on the Essential Cinema List, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. The film with be accompanied by the Toronto Consort and Choir 21 performing Voice’s of Light an opera/oratorio composed and adapted by Richard Einhorn. The evening will be conducted by David Fallis, one of Canada’s leading conductors of operatic and choral music.

Quickly following the classical selection, TIFF takes a modern jump to 1977 with Erich von Stronheim’s Greed accompanied by Toronto’s own Do Make Say Think performing a live score on October 5. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the band you’ll be surprised by their hybrid sound of psychedelic, punk, jazz, and electronica. They will be accompanied by  additional Toronto artists, though the details are still unreleased.

At the end of October, TIFF presents Michael Nyman’s Man with a Movie Camera which he reconstructed from Vertov’s NYman with a Movie Camera and includes footage from Nyman’s personal archives. Nyman’s band will be performing his original score as well as two additional works which have yet to be announced.

Kicking off the month of November is one of the most anticipated events of the season, the première of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis– fully restored. Renowned Canadian composer and celebrated pianist, Gabriel Thibaudeau will be conducting his commissioned score introducing a large-scale live musical performance to the Lightbox. The performance includes two chamber orchestra’s, a string quartet, a brass quintet and accompanied by keyboard, organ, and percussion. The performance is being presented in association with the Goethe-Institute Toronto.

Wrapping up The Essentials of Cinema on November 17 is Rebirth of  Nation. Many are familiar with D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation– the most prominent and controversial film of the Silent era. Now see it remixed both visually and musically as DJ Spooky puts his music skills to work and showcases his multimedia talents. Baroque ensemble, I Furiosi, will join the live performance giving the film a new life while still playing to the controversy it created.

See the full Press Release at tiff.net