you are not alone tonight

My dear friend Niamh Peren is a multi-talented creative force to be reckoned with, and it's always a happy moment when she shares a new project with me. Her most recent work is a collaboration with friend, musician (under the moniker Space Creeps) and equally talented creative Jack Smylie. I spoke to them about their project, a video for Jack's song You Are Not Alone Tonight, their process and future plans.

Jack on Niamh
A while back Niamh and I got together at my practice space and Niamh took a few test shots, which she then went and made a video with - and which has become the new music video to Space Creeps' track "You Are Not Alone Tonight" (from our EP Love Notes From Stoned Island, released a few weeks ago).

The few times we've worked together have, I think, almost always had us working separately, which amounts to a bit of trust and a lot of cross-checking. We first worked together on Niamh's film The Great Bunny Hunt when Niamh asked me to score the soundtrack. I was lucky enough to see the film slowly take shape and was fed scene after scene by Niamh, which I would then take down to my basement and watch, repeatedly, with a guitar slung around my neck.

This time around the process was similar, in a way. I handed Niamh a demo, she conceived an idea and set to work. The bonfire scenes are filmed in the South Island, the basement scenes in Auckland. A large part of the process was experimentation - especially since the song was still taking shape at the same time the film was. Allowing each other total creative license is key. The unspoken goal was to remain unconventional. 

We collide in our sense of adventure, experimentation, abstraction.

I've been listening to a lot of Neil Young, Grateful Dead, John Coltrane, Yusef Lateef and Sonny Rollins; reading John Steinbeck, Herman Hesse, collected poems by T.S. Eliot and an old copy of New York Minute. I'm watching Let's Get Lost - Bruce Weber's documentary on Chet Baker. Feast of Burden - a bizarre web-series by Eugene Kotlyarenko. Re-watching Lost Highway.

Niamh on Jack

I met Jack when I was 17. I think we partied together. Jack is very talented, and we help each other realise our ideas. It seems that there is a lot of freedom in our friendship, in that I trust Jack’s response and (I hope) he does mine. We tinker away until it is right, or wrong. You Are Not Alone Tonight was constructed over some months. I was working on Jane Campion and Garth Davis’ Top Of The Lake when Jack approached me. He sent the track and wrote me a passage about the Romeo and Juliet theme. Very early one morning when I was still in Central Otago, I had this mammoth urge to build a bonfire on my parents’ farm, so I did. When the weather and timing was right, it was lit and gunpowder was thrown. 

A few weeks later, I flew to Auckland and Jack cried, real tears. The two of us filmed this in an in-between space, under a club and above an ex-Yum Cha restaurant. The same flame ravaged, burnt out, once-was Yum Cha restaurant/ now basement that we sat in when Jack created the music for my documentary, The Great Bunny Hunt. After that, I went on to travel through Italy, Poland, Greece and even moved country. This project was a gift to him. Our methodology is novice. From the start he had wanted me to lip sync, so I attempted; we offer up directional advice like that. It evolves. We gather, depart, gather and depart.

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