new york, lower east side, august 2006
images, sounds & edit by vincent moon
produced by temporary areas
I think I may have a problem. I’m certainly fortunate—perhaps a little too fortunate—but the fact of the matter is that I make WAY too many videos. We’re continuing to post only one video per week, even though we recently launched the Split Series (dedicated to other filmmaking friends); soon we’ll also inaugurate the Lab Series (dedicated to labels), which will be put online more randomly. Every week, however, we film between 2 and 4 sessions, always just as poorly-organized and chaotic as the first, within a city that accelerates without stopping and rarely takes the time to listen to such a spontaneous, ad-lib style of music.
I had put Essie Jain’s videos aside for a while. I vaguely considered putting them to rest, discreetly avoiding sending her bad news in the hopes that she would forget. But rediscovering them today is a true surprise. Essie’s videos give us a beautiful, sun-drenched moment, which calmly passes through all the quotidian clamor. Moreover, more than just any ordinary session, these videos speak to the exchange between music and the city’s noise, between silence and frenetic discord. In sum, it’s a true testimony for live recording. Some would call it “field recording”, but why not relocate it to “city recording”?
It was last summer in New York. I didn’t know Essie at all, but David Fenech had always told me about her and her beautiful English voice. After a quick listen on myspace, hearing her to-die-for voice, and an immediate phone call, the rendezvous was arranged. Long live technology.
Essie has lived in the Lower East side for several years now, playing the piano more often than she does the guitar. She just released her first album entitled We Made This Ourselves on BaDaBing Records. You have to listen to it. It’s the worth the little detour just to hear the poignant song “Haze”.
And thus, on a beautiful afternoon, we met up. Although we would have preferred to film at dawn, the afternoon was so pleasant that just being there made it all worthwhile.
In the beginning there was this irritating wind tunnel noise, which systematically stopped and restarted and came from who-knows-where. We were perched on the steps of the fire escape, and we had to wait several minutes until the drone stopped. Essie played with her blond locks under the sun, and immediately after she finished the song, the wind tunnel started back up. What a beautiful way to command the world.
It’s an obvious battle in the second video: Essie maneuvers through and amidst the noise and buzz of the city streets. You can hear a grinning “Bullshit!”, a very filmic police siren, a car pumping its music for the world, and various cackles and cries all around. You see tons of faces, faces that don’t even notice this graceful song, which moves like a hymn of silence, cast out from Essie’s refined voice from the shadowed hollows of a truck bed. She says “sorry” at the end of the song, apologizing for disrupting the world. It’s these small disruptions, however, that start everything.
text by vincent moon