Thursday, December 31, 2015
2015 is coming to an end here in California, and so once again it's time for me to pick my favorite videos/songs among the many that I have posted on The Nightfly these past twelve months.
NOTE 1: As usual, I need to point out that this is not a "Best" list, but simply my personal favorites. It wasn't easy to only choose one dozen among the scores of great ones, but below are twelve videos/songs that I found to be truly outstanding on all counts: music, vocals, arrangement, concept, cinematography, direction.
NOTE 2: Some faves were left out because the videos were either: not published this year, live performance videos, lyric videos or not music videos per se. Finally, in the case of a few videos, I decided that the clip did not quite match the high quality of the song.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of my lovely readers out there in cyber space - thanks for "tuning in" to The Nightfly music blog - my advertisement free, labor of love, one-woman operation since February of 2008 - come back and visit often in 2016!!!
And without further ado, in random order, here are my twelve favorites (with links to my original posts below each video):
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Together for a decade, London band Mystery Jets are still going strong. January 15 they drop their fifth full-length 'Curve of the Earth' and kick off a UK mini tour the day before (in between, they have a show in Dublin on February 12).
On the coming album's first track "Telomere" Blaine Harrison's voice is more gorgeous than ever. In the accompanying video he seems remarkably unfazed by his stint at a hellish mud bath spa; the clip was directed by James Copeman.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
|Photo by Lila Orshefsky, Long Beach|
Sunday, a friend of mine was admitted to a hospital in Long Beach, California following a severe stroke. He has always had a great sense of humor, and once the difficult rehabilitation begins, I sincerely hope that he regains his ability to smile and laugh. And so, in that spirit, instead of posting a sad video, I chose a funny one that I know he would truly appreciate.
Acclaimed by critics and beloved by audiences in Denmark, actor Rasmus Bjerg excels at both drama and comedy. For this 2015 clip he invited Thor (left) and Anthon (right) of wildy popular Danish pop duo Citybois to a very special Christmas party. The catchy track and funny video is an instant classic: Wham-meets-Saturday Night Live.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Nothing really gets you in the Christmas spirit like a music video combining ice skating and tween bullying...
33-year-old Iranian-Swedish director Milad Alami, a graduate of the National Film School of Denmark and now a Copenhagen resident, created the excellent clip accompanying "Giving Up the Ghost", the latest stellar single by Alex Vargas who at 27 still splits his time between his adopted hometown of London and greater Copenhagen where he grew up and lived until the age of 17.
Danish audiences and critics appear to have finally discovered the immense talent of native son Vargas, not least via his powerful and very distinctive voice which lends itself to both rock and electronica. On "Giving Up the Ghost" he effortlessly blends the two genres and has boldly focused on performing this new hybrid material in live settings around Europe this year, but also makes sure to include the crowd favorite "Solid Ground" off his 2014 EP 'Howl', released on Danish label Tiger Music.
On December 20 and 21 he's part of the line up at the Stille Nacht Festival in Eindhoven and Rotterdam, respectively. His first gig in the new year is also in the Netherlands: the Eurosonic Noorderslag Festival, held January 13-16 in Groningen.
A new album will drop sometime in 2016 on Copenhagen Records.
NOTE: Be sure to check out my two previous posts on Vargas:
https://itunes.apple.com/dk/album/giving-up-the-ghost-single/id1040155924 (iTunes Denmark)
Saturday, December 5, 2015
In October I posted Part 1 and Part 2 of the music video series 'The Dichotomous Trilogy' which accompanies three stellar tracks by Australian producer Charles Murdoch (Part 3 dropped in November and has been added to that post.) The superb and immensely powerful trilogy, featuring an outstanding performance by veteran actor Bernhard Geffke, was directed by Faraz Shariat and produced by Paulina Lorenz who make up the film production company Jünglinge; both are 20 years old and students at the university in Hildesheim in Northern Germany. I look forward to seeing much more work from these two gifted film makers.
Watch the complete video trilogy in my October post:
Q: Are you self-taught or are you attending film school?
A: We do not go to film school. We got to know each other at university, studying cultural studies. There are some film classes you can take, but really, our university is not a very supportive institution when it comes to producing films. It's more theoretical. I also study theater and Paulina studies music as well.
Q: How long have you been making videos/films?
A: We started around two years ago.
Q: Did you grow up in Hildesheim?
A: Paulina grew up in Hamburg, Faraz in Cologne. We both moved to Hildesheim for university.
Q: What specifically inspired the trilogy?
A: There are certain gay scenes that are highly attracted to the codes of skin head culture. It fascinates me how culture processes stigmatized codes and relabels them. There is something about those two very contradictory identity-constructions (homosexual-skinhead) that seem to get along.
Q: Why did you choose the theme of repressed homosexuality?
A: I know that tackling this issue may not seem very 2015, but since I decided to tell the story of a 65-year-old man who has not experienced the welfare and freedom that my generation has when it comes to homosexuality, it felt right to create a narrative that would not only raise questions about how accepted homosexuality really is nowadays, but also focuses on parts of our society where homosexuality is still an unspeakable concept of sexuality.
Q: Explain why you chose the title "The Dichotomous Trilogy".
A: To me 'dichotomy' means creating a unity with two differing, maybe even contrary things. Mother-Father or Life-Death are two examples that I find rather clear. I felt that the semantic error in the title 'The Dichotomous Trilogy' would would represent the content of our series without really telling what it is about.
Q: Did Charles Murdoch give you any input or did he leave the creative process entirely up to you?
A: He really let us do what we felt was right. At some points we discussed specifics about the edit and the ways we wanted the story to develop.
Q: How did the collaboration with Murdoch come about?
A: We shot the material for a music video series without having any musician to collaborate with. I mean, to be honest, we are nobodies in this huge field of music video production and this was our very first work in music video. We knew that we could not convince anybody by saying "Hey, we think we are good at creating narratives for promos - would you like us to do one for you?" So we shot the material, cut a trailer and sent it to Future Classic [the Australian record label]. Amazingly, they loved it and asked to collaborate.
Q: What and/or who inspire you creatively?
A: We have quite an obsession with Somesuch [the London based production company], they are great and create such powerful visuals. We also love everything M.I.A. does!
Q: Tell me about the amazing lead actor Bernhard Geffke.
A: Bernhard is one of the more experienced old school German actors. He went to the famous Ernst Busch Acting School in Berlin and has mostly done theater work. He was great fun to work with through all the cold outdoors settings, the delicate nude scenes and the tough fight training.
Q: What can you tell me about the crew you worked with?
A: During the actual shoot we were a team of about 25 people. Some students from our university who are really into fashion did the costumes, two girls who study scenography built the amazing sets, and there were also some lighting and make up professionals. Our director of photography is Simon Vu, cinematography graduate student at the renowned film school in Berlin-Potsdam. He's a good friend and basically the third member of Jünglinge.
Q: What type of camera equipment did you use?
A: We got the opportunity to work with Russian anamorphic lenses from the 1950s so you'll see a lot of flares. We love the anamorphic look. Also, the aspect ratio is very special - it's super narrow. The camera we used was the Sony F5.
Q: Have you made other videos/films?
A: I've made a few fictional and documentary shorts. Paulina shot a documentary in Mexico this year and alsto works on sets a lot. But nothing this big!
Q: What other projects do you have lined up?
A: We do want to continue making music videos because we love their potential in being so stylish and so narrative at the same time! So there'll be something coming. But we are also both big fans of using documentary ways of telling stories and would love to do something longer.
Q: You work together as director and producer. Elaborate on your respective roles.
A: I write all of the stuff, we talk about it together, and Paulina tries to figure out realistic ways to make all the big ideas happen. I always have new visions and am very confident about what I want in terms of casting, cinematography and overall look. Paulina is head of communication with cast, crew and partners and tries to make everyone feel good. We actually started being friends after working together so we appreciate each other a lot!
Q: Are you currently able to make a living from your creative output?
A: Not yet, but that's definitely the goal. We're starting out right now and are really excited to work on a lot of collaborations with other upcoming artists!