It was over a year ago now that we first premiered a video from MADAM (aka Sukie Smith) with her single ‘When I Met You’. It featured on her third album, ‘Back To The Sea’ (Shillingboy Records, 1st July 2016). Since then she has continued her incredible personal commitment and vision of making a video for each song. Three Sixes is her sixth video which was Directed by Richard Morel and shot in part on a spaceship he built in his house. As she explains below, the making of this film took the best part of a year to complete. After chatting to Sukie about the videos she’d made for her album – on ‘no budget’ – she agreed to talk about this extraordinary process which you can read below.
MADAM (aka Sukie Smith) the Back to the Sea films
I started recording Back to the Sea in 2014, it was a long and complicated process, financially, personally and creatively. It took about a year to finish, and in that time I was completely embedded in the stories and landscapes of these eleven songs. Everything fed into the moulding of the songs. It was a deep, deep journey into my imagination.
During the recording, I’d play each track as a little film in my head. I’d inspect all the details of the images in my mind to make sure I was expressing everything the narrative of the song needed to be understood. Consequently, I had really strong visual ideas for some of the songs. I wasn’t really aware I was going to make a film for every song until I said it in an interview. It was a subconscious commitment, an accidental mission statement in my first album interview.
I have a label called Shilling Boy Records which has to be self-sufficient, no money source apart from my music/creative making. So here is the skill – make films on tiny tiny budgets, have ideas that seem manageable and keep things simple ha!
With huge amounts of luck, coincidence and a lot of hustle we have made seven of the planned eleven videos.
Our latest video, Three Sixes premiered here (watch above) and took the best part of a year to complete. It’s a complete contrast to my manifesto of keeping things simple. Richard Morel, the director, built a spaceship in his house, filled his home with sheets of metal to make the spaceship door and spray painted half his house silver.
He made a commercial for a mobile casino for free, so we could use the roulette wheel and craps tables in our video. He built the jackpot machine which his gorgeous wife operated from behind a black curtain, “spin the wheel Rosa, spin the wheel!” He bought about ten broken TVs on eBay for the shots in the security guards office, hand made all the props, all the sets and nearly got arrested for guerrilla filming in the public lift in Waterloo station!
The project continues…
And so it continues… Next is a film for No Ghost and then Night Watch with director Richard Morel and DOP Matthew Lynch. I had planned to go to LA to film Night Watch and both coincidentally are going there for other projects. More good luck! Just saying it can even make it happen.
The focus to pull this many favours and set myself such a huge challenge has made me think about making art differently. By abstracting the essence of a song so it’s not just an illustration of the lyric these films have expanded the possibilities and reach of the music. I have always been quite solitary in my imaginings of my music but this process (all made with a spirit of cooperation and goodwill) is my new religion. And because of the magical results of a group effort, of people power, just making things happen I think it’s changed the way I work forever.
Back to the Sea was originally only available as vinyl or download , but thanks to demand, Shilling Boy Records have made a limited run of beautiful gate fold CDs which are distributed by Cargo. Order it via Bandcamp.
May 11, 2017
Full band show supporting Nitin Sawhney.
Bush Hall, 310 Uxbridge Rd, Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 7LJ