- INTERVIEW -
Vale Coop: You seem to have created a new genre, you call it a film-song. What did you seek to achieve; coupling a song with a short film?
9: At the instance of its birth, a song is like a spectre and you are the only one haunted by it. So by making the film, I was processing this amorphous source in order to bring about a visual contact, to which I can point and say ‘See my song... It has a new function!’ It narrates a story, at the same time it's a poem, also a contract, it is my interaction with the people around me during the time of its making. The film and the song are analogous to me.
Like Antonioni said 'A film you can explain in words is not a real film', exactly the same goes for the music. I like focusing on making things that cannot be explained by language.
On a much more practical level, I wanted to save music from enslavement to the music video format. I wanted to express a new mode between showing and telling. I suppose, ultimately what I got here is a documentary of feelings. Cast a Pall of Win is a confession, an auto-criticism. It's a chapter end.
Vale Coop: What's the story behind the song?
9: Well, I wrote it during an exasparating period of waiting about for the development of this special equipment by my producer and a friend who came in to play guitars on my live set. It took well over a year to get this thing up and running. We'd be at Ears nearly every other day, them doing technical things and me trying to participate in their labour which was awfully technical. So, I said, I am going to perform a set with just the piano accompaniment of Shahla Atlas, sans machines.
Anyhow, in order to promote the gig at Zebulon, I made a video. For its soundtrack, I wrote this song. It was a snapshot of my psyche. We performed it live. Then, I forgot about it completely. Until, the spring of 2012, a year later, the demo came up on shuffle while I was in Istanbul at the apartment of this actress with whom I had a strange and intense synergy during the shoot of FILM ISTANBUL, back in January. She came to New York see me in February while I was trying to get out of there to go to Roma in order to start the production of CORPUS ENIGMA. However, she diverted me for a stopover in Istanbul. We were to produce one of these films together. Anyhow, due to some mysterious reason within days of my arrival, she stopped communicating. Completely. Bonkers, I was staying with her. In the end, it got so weird that I had to leave. Luckily, my photojournalist friend Yusuf Sayman from NY was there. He has a beautiful house in Moda which inspires one to write a novel or create something. So, I embarked on the the production of the song there which lyrically fit perfectly to the situation at hand. The rest of the story is now CAST A PALL OF WIN.
Vale Coop: Can you tell more about CORPUS ENIGMA?
9: The idea for it came along with its title popping in my head when I revisited L'ECLISSE by Antonioni. At the time, I was wrapped up in a tumultous process that was my debut album MAP OF THE UNIVERSE. The emotional range of the film, I found, was very much like my own. I was inhibiting a transformative disconnectedness to New York and to the people around me, much like being eclipsed at some capacity by a certain lack. Monica Vitti personifies this orifice that led me to create these songs. They were all written in order to model myself a sensual spectrum, where I could breathe; the same plateau as the one that makes up L'eclisse where she wanders. Prior to taking up the decision to create this work, I had been to Roma and spent some meditative time on the locations of the film. So, in lieu with my next move, taking a break from the city, I had to return Roma in order to realise those film-songs. However, my journey haphasardly, started off with CAST A PALL OF WIN in Istanbul. In the last sequence, you will see the fungi water tower in EUR (L'eclisse) where I finally arrived after a detour of 2.5 months, that is what Cast a Pall of Win is; a detour with a clear exit. I simply had to make a film in order to get out of there. Otherwise, it would have been a waste of time and agony. I believe, I retained something beautiful.
Vale Coop: The poet persona is someone who records, takes photographs, someone who is self-reflexive with the camera, but in general you remain as a shadow, very little can be told about you.
9: There is an immensity of information in the song about me. I am a poet after all, lyrics are terribly important. They are not there for the sake of melody. What I say and how I say it is all that should be known about me. The rest is not too terribly interesting and none of anyone's business. Being a performer, obviously there is certain vanity in me that meets the requirements, but I simply couldn't bear to talk about myself in my own work. It's how I feel and think. Not necessarily how I do.
Vale Coop: You have a very distinct style of shooting and editing. Are you striving towards a personalised form of film? Is it a personal cinema you are aiming to create?
9: Today cinema exists in a dismembered form. It's like Osiris. One leg there, one arm here. Internet is the theatre, the gossip room, the peephole and the actual production room. It's saturated with the same generic crap by the industry and those fools who aspire to make it into the industry. Cinema has to be personal. And it's fucking outside. Outside of the theatre, outside of the screen. Outside the norms. For me it's a mode of being. I live what I have to film and I naturally film what I live.
Vale Coop: What does directing mean to you?
9:Something I would like to have a go at soon. Being in a situation to work with factors, a term I coined to best explain actors who don't try to act, but fact! - appear as themselves stripped off their theatricality. Oh dear, can I even imagine, working freely with some help? Up until now, everything I have done on film is through strict restriction and not having the means... by a method of snatching reality from my interactions with people. But, if I finally find someone to produce me, I would try to reinvent the dramatic space and the narrative. I would try and formulate a new direction according to my understanding of what cinema is and how it has to reinvent itself today. Also, direction, in my opinion, should involve how the film is shown and seen, its context has to expand beyond that fucking screen, any screen whether it'd be the computer, tv or the auditorium. The film has to enter every vessel and therefore ultimately its text must consist a strong nuclei that can exploit different mediums. The totality of all of that is what cinema can be.
Vale Coop: Would you ever consider making a narrative film, tell a story. Do you believe in stories?
9: Yes, very much so. Without stories we would be reduced to apes. The record is essentially what defines us and our progress. Today, it's not about which story you tell. It's not about how it looks but It's how one synthesises a new language to refer age old things in a pure form. The language of the heart!
Vale Coop: How do you regard contemporary situation of the arts; music and cinema particularly?
9: I think, there is a lot of creativity around. Some extraordinary work is out there. I am not gonna comment on the rarity of outstanding artists, there is always the same ratio of gems against hoards of wankers. But, for my liking, there is an apparent lack of a strong presence/convinction in most things that are made into images, sounds and words. I personally, don't give a fuck about cute things or smart things. Intelligence is not as interesting to me as someone who is unique. Maybe because, I regard listening to music or engaging with art as a rendezvous with its creator. Yes, that could be a very harsh criteria, but I am entitled to choose my company. There is nothing worse than causing a reaction of indifference. People who have the means are plain fucking boring. They do not have real energy. They have fanciful ideas, but their ideas are enslaved to illustrating forms; this, I would say is my general distinction about art, the piss art that dominates the world. On the other hand, people with most basic tools are creating relevant work that capture something of the essence. I should assert that most of those people are not artistic, nor they have 'artistic' aspirations. Although, I enjoy seeing the diversity of expression out there, ultimately, I prefer sticking with folks who can bring something to the table that they made and present it to you looking at you in the eye.