We don't know a whole lot about Young Magic. They were just another one of the bands we get press releases on every day. However, we're music-video obsessed, and when anybody, anywhere sends us a video we watch it. In this case, it was their song "Night in the Ocean" which drew us into their particular brand of sorcery.
Shot in a beautiful, stark style the video centers on an overcast day on the shore. It lingers over footage of rainy waves before taking us into a sparsely furnished house where two actors undress and proceed to decorate each other in a series of cabalistic markings. The effect is somewhat erotic, somewhat sad, sort of like Gem Club's "252" but with more closure and less dying sexless and alone.
The lines drawn on the pale bodies of our subjects are retraced by an invisible hand over the crashing shore view, and then all of the sudden clocks and violins explode. Somewhere between this gray heaven and washed out Earth plays the actual song, and it's a hard one to classify.
"Night in the Ocean" is part the Highlander soundtrack, part Still Corners, and we swear to Allah part hip hop in a couple of places. We wouldn't call the song a herald of a new sound that changes the world as we doubt the world at large is really ready for this tune, but there's no doubt that Young Magic is a band who treats the word "genre" like a Libertarian treats the word "collectivism." How such a group can explore so much in a video that barely leaves the house we don't know, but every frame is a collection of desolate beauty.
Check it out below.
We caught up with Young Magic and Andrew de Freitas, who directed the video to ask a few questions about it. Click on over to page 2 for the interview.
Rocks Off: The way we interpret this, you're basically doing like full-body reverse palmistry, right? Plotting the way of the world with body lines?
Andrew de Freitas : It's definitely some kind of plotting, yeah. And I like the full-body reverse thing - anything "full-body reverse" sounds like it's gonna draw some aces. But I hadn't really looked at palmistry at all. The lines are just a kind of mechanism that bring those landscapes and that world into and onto those bodies, and vice-versa.
RO: Most of the video is very primal, natural settings and naked bodies, with artifice being treated very harshly such as the destruction of the clock and violin. Is that a lashback against civilization?
AdF: I think it's material things that are being treated harshly more so than artifice in general. I mean, you can make beautiful, meaningful or cunning gestures and events just by moving, speaking, acting etc. Sometimes all the material things we're surrounded with - even if they are useful or pretty - get really burdensome and it's wonderfully freeing to watch them dematerialize; destruct. We shot through a camera lens with an assault rifle. Some photographers would actually cry seeing a lens take a bullet in its heart. I'm one of those photographers.
RO: Is there any sort of specific meaning behind the shapes you draw?
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AdF: There's definitely meaning behind the shapes but it's not always a specific one. You can reconfigure lines and shapes and make a myriad of meanings. We do it with words all the time. In this video I'd done a series of drawings based on the images filmed out beside the sea. The actors looked at these drawings as a starting point, but also responded to things like the contours of the skin quite impulsively. Drawing with lines and shapes is something I do a lot. They're more abstract than words but not necessarily less capable of saying things.
RO: Is this how the song looked in your head when you wrote it?
Young Magic: Not exactly, and this is the beauty of letting someone like Andrew interpret your work. There was a large storm when it was written, some recollection of a recent past... running down to the whitewash late at night through dark dunes, intoxicating with lover in arm and bodies locked, treading water with sharks, not knowing any danger because you felt too alive. A hidden trust in an ocean that could swallow you at any time.
It was a metaphor for my mental state at the time, of the world at large. Andrew had sent the film Zarbiskie Point as reference for the explosion scenes, which we really loved. I hadn't visualized the landscapes of La Gaspésie, Québec... the cold, gorgeous expanse of rocky greys and blues and floating islands, yet these scenes drew a perfect parallel to the figures delicate interactions. It took these feelings of intimacy and connectivity, of body and landscape, and pushed it someplace even further.