There’s something extraordinary about going to a live music event. This isn’t speaking to it being a good show but speaking to an experience that is incredibly unique and often tied to a “first time.” It’s intimate and special, albeit strange and captivating. We can all have a story of our “first time” into this world, a world that is particularly alien and quite the opposite of intimately listening to music alone in your room. London writing and directing duo Mathy & Fran made a short film that is part sci-fi vignette, part No Age performance video. It delicately deals with a person’s first encounter in this nature, which–in this case–is framed by the now iconic Los Angeles punk band.
Mathy & Fran sent us a note about the new film, which sounded super rad as we were familiar with their work–and hearing that No Age was involved was an added bonus. We spoke with the duo about their process and what went into creating the short film, which stars The Borgias Emily Taaffe as the lead. We discussed with them what went into making the film, the universality of its message, and how No Age’s sound played into the film. You’ll also be able to check out the film as they’ve just released it online. Catch it after the jump!
The Lights And Then The Noise speaks to a lot of different things. It is part performance video, part contrast meditation, and part unanswerable question, pointing to a lot of unknowns in the sublimity of light and sound. What was the inspiration for creating the piece? What were you guys drawing from?
Our starting point was music–which is always a big element within our work, and we knew we wanted to create something that used music as central to the narrative. We’d been on a sci-fi tip for some time, and the idea was shaped by a visit to Susan Hiller’s Witness exhibition which includes a collection of audio interviews with UFO ‘witnesses’. It became apparent very quickly that the confessions recounted could be read as music experiences–a sort of transcendence and out of body experience.
We loved the idea that the person talking vividly about their alien encounter could just as easily be talking about their first ever punk rock show, and it was this ‘alien’ feeling that we wanted to capture.
Light and sound are obviously large themes in the film. It’s also interesting how a culture relates to these elements, too. As you guys are based in London, is the film in any way a response to these element in your city? How do you think those elements differ or find themselves similar to how they manifest in Los Angeles? What about within the world of the film?
It was definitely a response to London in the way that music or cultural happenings exist around the city sometimes in quite a hidden way–the idea that things are less planned and you can chance upon something which in that moment feels huge, even life-changing. The fact that these things can happen in a damp dingy basement somewhere is even more amazing. We guess LA is similar in terms of its cultural landscape? It’s all about that connection of a shared experience–the close encounter that is created in music venues between strangers.
We’ve never really thought of it as a London set film–despite shooting it there. We were mainly interested in finding environments that allowed us to continue the contrasts of noise and quiet–open and closed spaces. We also took inspiration from Robert Adams’ Summer Nights, Walking photographs–and became very interested in ways you can play with the emptiness of space–for us, the exteriors were supposed to feel like the more alienating spaces to exist within, which left the wildness of the venue open to nurture something much more safe and free.
Music–specifically from LA’s No Age–is a big driving force of the film. What was the inspiration or connection to work with the band? There’s an obvious tie to their sound and performance style in relationship to blurry sounds or images, much like the fuzzy television in the film. Do you think they’re in a way responding to light and/or sound in Los Angeles? Is there any connection?
We connected with No Age through our DOP Owen Richards who has photographed them. We felt they’d be the perfect band for the narrative, and we knew they were due to headline a two-day festival being organised by Upset The Rhythm, a London based promoter and record label, so timings wise it was pure fortune that it all happened to coincide.
We definitely react to a sense of sound and light in their music–there is a combination of melody and discord that was exactly the feeling we were trying to project. It was also important that the music came from LA as we specifically wanted there to be an ‘otherness’ that Emily Taaffe’s English character could experience.
A very on-the-surface question: where was the film shot? The location–the three: Emily Taaffe’s room, the outdoors, and the concert–greatly oppose each other. Are they all related beyond being within the film? Could the piece have been shot anywhere else?
The bedroom and outdoors could easily have been shot elsewhere, but the crucial location for us was the music venue itself–we filmed that in a disused warehouse in Peckham, South London, and the wildness that comes from the crowd became a big part of the film. We’re fascinated by buildings that have been re-appropriated as music venues, and there was something about that particular space – the low ceilings and narrow walls that created a palpable energy. It was much more like shooting a documentary or concert film and we had the luxury of being there for two days, soaking it all in and giving Emily time to adjust to being in the crowd.
Looking beyond The Lights And Then The Noise, what are you guys doing next? Are there any more collaborations with No Age or similar acts?
We’d love to collaborate with No Age again, though there is nothing lined up. Music will likely always be an influence on the work we create, and we’re currently busy with several music promos, but keen to make headway with our next narrative short. We’ll also be taking part in the Illuminations festival happening in London this November, where we’ll be displaying some work alongside performances from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti and a number of other artists.
Be on the look out for Mathy & Fran’s latest projects on their website, which has lots more videos for you to check out. You can also find them on Twitter and we’ll be sure to follow up with anything else they have going on. Find more on No Age on their website and Facebook, too.