Ane Brun has covered Arcade Fire’s Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) in support of the Voice Project which aims to support women of northern Uganda and to amplify the peace movement in central Africa.
About the Song
Stockholm was a magical city when I arrived, neighborhoods buried in snow. Ane had planned the shoot for the evening I arrived in town so I went straight down to the studio. It was the same studio Ane recorded her album “It All Starts With One,” a place she spent those many hours, a place she is used to creating in.
I love the original version of this song by Arcade Fire and I always find that the stripped down acoustic covers that artists often do for the project bring out the magic of the song in simplicity for me, and this is a great example. I love Ane and her voice and cherish any time I get to hear her perform, and this evening that voice seemed to call out these lyrics in a new way to my ears. Shooting someone performing is a different experience though than just watching and listening, there are things you need to think about like lighting and framing, anticipating things that can take you out of the moment you’re trying to capture, but when you’re in that flow in the right way there can be a calm where you are both in the moment and capturing it, both situational awareness (Archer anyone?) and a lack of it. For the most part you are just trying to be true to what the artists and the situation are giving you, and sometimes those both work out beautifully, like the wonderfully personal intimacy of Ane’s performance and us literally being in a tunnel under the snow as I record her singing those words. “And if my parents are crying then I’ll dig a tunnel from my window to yours, you climb out the chimney and meet me in the middle, the middle of the town…I hear you sing a golden hymn, the song I’ve been trying to sing.” Those are words that brought tears to my eyes, and watching this again in editing I found myself thinking about both the conscious and subconscious levels that the Ugandan women’s story influence the artists who perform. I thought about how the mothers’ story is taken in by women performers in the project, with a certain level of special, emotional solidarity and feminine empathy. With song choice it’s a funny thing…some artists will say exactly why they chose a song or why another artist or lyric came to mind when they heard the story, but I found myself thinking about how it’s surely somewhere in between the conscious choices and the subconscious pulls, the rational and the emotional that the choice, like most choices, really gets made. Neruda came to mind, “between the shadow and the soul.” And it’s from those places and regions undefined that we really sing with others, that we respond to the tiny choices and intonations we see and hear, to the lyrics and the songs. It’s where we react the strongest, in our bones, in our hearts. I think it speaks to that undertow of connection we all long to feel with each other, and how music bridges that gap for so many of us. It’s the tunnel under the snow, from my window to yours.
About the Voice Project
A peace movement is an incredible thing, people coming together, mobilizing like an army, and in this case armed not with guns but with songs and something more powerful than any bullet; compassion, the strength of human will, and determination.
For over two decades war ravaged northern Uganda. It is Africa’s longest running conflict and it has spread to South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. Joseph Kony’s LRA has made abducting children and forcing them to fight his chief weapon of war, even making them kill their friends and family members. Many abductees and former soldiers escape but hide in the bush, afraid to return home because of reprisals for the atrocities they were forced to commit.
The women of northern Uganda – widows, rape survivors, and former abductees have been banding together in groups to support each other and those orphaned by the war and diseases so prevalent in the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps. And they are singing songs. The lyrics of “dwog paco” (come home) songs let former soldiers know that they are forgiven and that they should come back. The songs are passed by radio and word of mouth out into the bush, as far as the Sudan and DR Congo. And it’s working. Former LRA are returning and for the first time in 24 years the region has a chance at real peace.
The Voice Project is an attempt to support these incredible women and to amplify the peace movement in central Africa, and an effort to see how far a voice can carry.