Shooting Curlews: Wintering Outside
Grasscut has always had a significant, but silent partner, right from our beginnings in 2008. He has designed the artwork for all our records, accompanied us on our road trip hiding walkmans in boxes around the UK in 2012 for Unearth, and has taken many wonderful photographs along the way. For our new album Everyone Was A Bird, he has also taken on the role of making films to accompany some of the tracks, and the first of these is ‘Curlews’. I am talking of course, of Pedr Browne, of unwalked.com
Pedr and I have spent much of the winter in forests, on moors, up mountains, deep in abandoned slate mines, hovering around nuclear power stations, and teetering on the edges of freezing waterfalls, seeking out the right images for these songs — and of those adventures, more later.
For ‘Curlews’ he suggested filming reflections in smooth black engine oil and seeing what would happen if we played the song, or elements of the song, through it. So we concocted a mobile setup involving a garden trolley, early drum’n’bass era 12” car subwoofer, car battery, laptop and mixer, as well as Pedr’s camera and tripod, pulled a few favours at the local garage, and after an explosively messy test session, set off.
We have spent days in the most beautiful woodland in Sussex, finding the right trees in the right light and filming their reflection in the oil. And despite looking like lunatic vagrant digital troubadours, we have encountered (almost universally) the most wonderful people, who were all fascinated by, and supportive of what we were doing. Though it’s hard to believe now, one of them was the designer of the Akai S950 sampler and SH101 synth, who walked past us in the Ashdown Forest, and brilliantly explained the physics of the movement of a liquid in a moving cone.
But the most amazing thing has been heading out in the freezing cold first thing in the morning, and every single time being surprised as the light suddenly faded, and we realised that hours had gone by in a flash.