SIMON CAHN TALKS FONO – REAL JOY – TEXT LUKE TIERNEY
It’s not very often that a music video surprises on so many levels here at Word Is Cheap. Sure great videos come out but usually from artists who are known for taking risks. Rarely from an artist’s first video but when Caroline Clayton’s involved and Simon Cahn has the freedom to express himself it really isn’t that surprising at all. The blank slate was painted masterfully to the point we really do feel sorry for who ever is to direct Fono’s next video.
‘Real Joy’ is an emotional masterpiece, oscilating warbles set a tone that Simon has translated into sisterly sadomasochism. Something that comes across almost too naturally making the viewer question your own emotions. With equal amounts endorphins and adrenaline flowing through our systems we reached out to Simon to find out how the label reacted to the concept, how the girls took on such an intense shoot and what some people thing is the most disturbing part of the video.
Word Is Cheap: How did a project with the relatively unknown Fono come about?
Simon Cahn: The track came a few months back with a relatively free brief attached to it which is great. I always take a closer look to unknown and first track artists, because it’s like a white page. The world and creative direction is just yet to be done. It leaves a great freedom to imagine new things. I like this a lot.
WIC: Was the dialogue that sets the scene scripted at all?
SC: All the dialogues in the intro were not scripted, or not really. I knew what I wanted them to say but left the girls into improvisation. It’s this kind of eery moments that are hard to really script. You want the dialogues to come quite naturally. I have a lot of beautiful moments in my rushes for these intro scenes. I could do a short Virgin Suicide 2 with them, haha.
WIC: Why did you decide to subtlely mix in live sounds from the scene at different points?
SC: Well, I wanted to get a few live sounds into it for the fight scenes, because some (fake) punches are working way better with the sound of it. I also bring a bit of giggle and girls voice into it, so it feels more organic and real. Now that it’s out, some friends told me that it’s the most disturbing thing coming from the video. A couple of them told me they struggle looking at it because the sounds made them remember some intense fight they had in the past.
WIC: The styling and colour dictate, is the promo set in a certain area/time?
SC: I really wanted to have a strong and coherent creative direction around this video. I spent a lot of time working the styling references and mood. I really wanted to put this story in some kind of nice and contemporary British designs. The promo I set nowadays in the UK countryside.
WIC: With much relying on the sisters’ performances you put a lot of trust in the girls, how did you ensure the project would work? Was casting the most important aspect of the project? Had they ever met before?
SC: It was quite a stressful preproduction. You never know if the idea is going to work. Will they be able to carry this violence and have the fight scenes believable? The casting was of course very important, and we did it working in close collaboration with a great fight choreographer. We were looking for some girls able to act and also move and fight without them being stunts. Rehearsal was the key element for us to ensure the project would work. We took the time to really rehearse these fights and emotions. Madeleine and Abigail were fantastic, especially because it was quite an intense shoot. It was cold, and very physical. For the end shot, Abigail had to plunge her full body for quite some time in a freezing cold sea. It was the first time the girls met and they got along very well.
WIC: Was it hard to push an idea as simple and somewhat sadistic as this to management/label?
SC: I thought it would be quite hard. I wrote it with a feeling they would of course refuse it or make it milder. And surprisingly the label didn’t try to calm it. I think they understood that this kind of idea needs to be done at 100% or not. They totally jumped into it.