Music Matters in Animated Shorts
Music Matters, a series of short films commissioned by Future Shorts, is bringing people together from across the industry for the first time, to highlight the profound value of music and to educate consumers on how to identify legitimate music services. The campaign, online at www.whymusicmatters.org, features short animated films about inspirational artists who have dedicated their lives to music and contributed to our cultural landscape. Videos online at the Music Matters YouTube channel cover the music of Blind Willie Johnson, The Jam, John Martyn, Nick Cave, Sigur Ros, Kate Bush and the Fron Choir, will be carried on supporting artist and organisation websites, with further films scheduled for roll out later in the year.
The music sites which have signed up to adopt the Massive Music trust mark include Orange, Nokia, Vodafone, T-Mobile, 02, Music Station, Spotify, We7, MySpace Music, Sky Songs, MTV, Napster, BT Vision, mFlow, Vidzone, Apple, Amazon, Play, Tesco, HMV, 7Digital, ERA, YouTube, Rough Trade.
Click on the image below to play the Blind Willie Johnson video.
Click on the image below to play the Louis Armstrong video.
Click on the image below to play The Jam video.
Click on the image below to play the Fron Choir video.
Click on the image below to play the Sigur Ros video.
Click on the image below to play the Nick Cave video.
Click on the image below to play the Kate Bush video.
Click on the image below to play the John Martyn video.
The Music Matters campaign is being led by Niamh Byrne (Universal Music/formerly CMO Management managers of Blur and Gorillaz.) “For many people music is the single most important cultural element of their daily lives,” said Byrne, “but as it becomes more available it can become invisible, disposable. Cutting through the debate about technology, transmission and consumption, we want to remind everyone why music matters.”
Blind Willie Johnson was animated by Beat 13 (Lucy McLauchlan and Matt Watkins). The Jam was animated by Ali and Rob at Show & Tell. John Martyn and Kate Bush were animated by Winter Champion, also known as Elliot Dear. Nick Cave was animated by Sarah Cox and Emma Lazenby at Arthur Cox and Aardman Animations. Sigur Ros was animated by Felix Massie, also at Arthur Cox and Aardman Animations. Fron Choir was animated by Treat Studios. Louis Armstrong was animated by Lee Gingold.
Massie took influence from Sigur Ros’ album artwork and from the tone of the music to create the style of his film. “I found the story about them traveling up the mountain to record their album and thought it was a funny example of when your passion for something clouds the practicalities of the way you set about doing it. Quite romantic in a way! Making the journey across their landscape fit with the music was really satisfying and it was fun researching all about Iceland. I want to go.”
Sarah Cox and Emma Lazenby have both been long time Nick Cave fans. Sarah even went to see The Birthday Party in 1983 at the Hacienda. “Once we got started however we felt the enormity of the responsibility in depicting someone’s life, particularly someone we admire so much. We sort of wish we had selected someone whose opinion we didn’t value quite so much.”
Felix Massie talks about his inspiration. “I chose to tell the story of Sigur Rós because I had a friend in university who kissed a girl on an A-road over-pass in the rain one night, and he said it was so incredibly emotional he imagined a movie camera spinning around them both while the sparkling rain fell in slow motion and Sigur Rós played. I found that funny and wanted to show how people match their surroundings and experiences with music, and vice versa.”
Winter Champion’s previous experiences of Kate Bush had been limited to her most well known songs (Wuthering Heights, running up that hill), which he had heard either played in clubs or at parties. “After hearing her albums coming from the room of one of my housemates, I realised there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye. I learned that she has an interesting philosophy and approach to making music. Of course, Kate’s visual performances are as powerful as her music. I thought it was important to capture the essence of what Kate Bush is visually eg – smoke machines, flowing cloth, wind in the hair, sparkly things, and use them as devices in the film.”
Treat Studios is an informal collection of animators and illustrators. Their little east end studio is a-wash with music 24 hours a day. It keeps spirits high and the work flowing. The music of the Fron Choir shares the qualities that Treat Studios are all about; working together and having fun.
Music plays a hugely important part in the work done by Show and Tell. “Whether we’re making animated films, music videos or educational shorts it all comes down to telling a good, entertaining story. And music is the most powerful tool we’ve got. We were inspired by The Jam’s sound to create a visceral, raw, aesthetic in pencil drawn animation. Drawing upon archive footage, album covers and memorabilia we wanted to create a narrative that was honest but evocative. In all our work we aim to highlight the hand of the artist and that’s what Music Matters is all about. Exposing the blood, sweat and tears that goes into creating any art, be it music or image.”
Lee Gingold talks about his connection with Louis Armstrong. “Music has been my closest ally for as long as I can remember. When none of my friends cared to hear about my messy prolonged break ups any more, Jeff Buckley still listened. More importantly he still spoke to me, even though he was dead. Similarly, Louis Armstrong and I are best friends now despite the fact that neither of us was ever alive at the same time. Thanks to his music he means more to me than most of my ‘friends’ on Facebook. I feel I know more about his history than that of my own family and the way he blows that horn makes me feel as though he understands me better than I understand myself. I felt that these sentiments were perhaps a bit much for the purposes of my animated film. Instead I focused on Louis’ essence as conveyed through his own words. The text in my short film is taken from Louis introduction ‘What A Wonderful World’ for a live recording of the song.”