LUKE BATHER TALKS FTSE – TEXT LUKE TIERNEY
Today we have a first over here at Word Is Cheap in interviewing a WIC Writer on one of their personal projects. Northern-based Luke Bather is a director with a silver tongue, or rather silver pen, who has been working with the artist FTSE for over a year. Together they’ve developed new directions as the music continues to develop leading to an ultra stylised ethical leader taking the throne in ‘Blood On My Hands’. With budgets continuing to dwindle whilst expectations somehow managing to rise, Luke’s shown all the skills a young director should collaborating with other creative minds to bring together an otherwise impossible vision.
Word Is Cheap: How did you come up with the new persona created for FTSE?
Luke: Bather: I think the persona Sam has for FTSE now developed a lot as he was writing the album. In the first videos I did with him a few years ago he didn’t even want to be in the video but back then I think he had less to say in the songs. When he started sending me album tracks that were very much tied to a specific message, I felt it was important he was able to deliver those messages visually. I needed a way to put this erstwhile shy, defeatist guy into a position of authority. I think that train of thought along with a few other factors is what led to the throne imagery.
WIC: Did you have any specific influences when devising the feel?
LB: Yeah it was a real mixed bag of influences. Primarily our jumping off point was the film Samsara. There’d been a couple of FTSE shows where they had the film projected onto them as they played, and I thought the film was just incredible on so many levels. It tells such a huge, intangible story through these incredible visuals and colour palettes, and it celebrates a range of cultures and practices in such a poetic way.
Then at the opposite end of the spectrum there’s this Riff Raff video for his song Dolce & Gabbana which is just full of ostentatious clothes and brash attitudes. (I mean, c’mon – the whole song is about how he “only fucks with” girls who wear expensive, designer fashion). I’ve kinda got a bit of a soft spot for that video in all of its ridiculousness.
I thought it would be really interesting to see where those two influences could meet in the middle and have this aesthetically loud, borderline-brash pop video that actually goes out of its way to celebrate things that would otherwise be exploited by the fashion industry without a second thought.
Also there was probably some Kesha in there somewhere, because I’m pretty sure subconsciously she influences everything I do.
WIC: Is your approach now always going to be as stylised?
LB: I think that depends on the project! I loved working with Mariel Osborn on this – she’s a brilliant art director and developing a look for the video with her was really rewarding. Before this, a lot of my videos have existed mostly on the strength of some weird idea that someone let me run away with. I think it’d be nice to combine the two elements from now on and throw some weirdness into something with a realised aesthetic. Unless it didn’t suit the project. I mean I don’t think I’d throw a whisper-quiet acoustic singer-songwriter into the middle of an insane, uber-saturated pop party with a line of rockettes and fireworks and tigers. Or maybe I would. Hang on, I’d better write this down…
WIC: Was it a collaborative effort with different brands helping bring the project together?
LB: Most of that side of things really came together thanks to Sophie from Birdsong London. We had the video treatment all signed off and we were starting to put things in motion for the shoot when it hit me that teaming up with Birdsong would be the way to go. I’ve known Sophie for a few years and I think Birdsong are doing a really amazing thing by bringing together groups that promote a fair and ethical treatment of women in the fashion industry. I really wanted to help share their message and doing so in this video seemed like a perfect collaboration.
Not only are their hearts in the right place, but the stuff they sell is amazing – the jackets by Khama feature heavily in the video and were all made ethically in Malawi, and the jewellery by Sweet Cavanagh was made by women recovering from addiction and eating disorders. It made me incredibly happy to see that we could make the video look the way we wanted it to whilst still being ethical, that was really important to me.
WIC: Whats next?
LB: Well I’m probably gonna make myself a brew right now and then after that it’s a mystery. I do a lot of work as part of Plastic Zoo with my brilliant, weird friends Sam Alder and Nick Wood, but that’s been pretty quiet lately as we’ve been focusing on our own individual work.
I just want to keep making stuff really. After a project I’ve worked on is released into the world I usually feel satisfied with that for about a week before I start thinking “hey, it’s been a while since you made something. Go and make something. Why aren’t you making something yet?” And that’s not a thought that really goes away easily.
I’d really love to pair up with some new artists – I love diving into something completely new and seeing what I can do with it.