With a hectic week drawing to a close, it is fair to say that we are in the mood for some calming vibes. And, this is exactly what Gifts From Crows is giving us with track, “The Empty Mirror”. A soothing display of classical instrumentation melting together, culminating in an overwhelmingly captivating sound, the artist’s excellence is confirmed upon first listen. With photographer Helena Whitten’s work informing both the track’s sound and visuals, it also becomes clear that this is just as much of a piece of art as it is a haunting listen.
“This video is really the culmination of the creative process where Helena’s original photo literally comes to life,” explains Gifts From Crows. “Dancer Kristine Berget did an incredible job of reprising Helena’s character whilst also interpreting the music. At that point, it really became a three-way collaboration. Poltimore was the location of the cover photo and it just made sense to return there for the video shoot.”
Upon the release of their newly-released album, the artist sat down with Wonderland to talk about how the project is their most ambitious yet and what the rest of 2022 holds. Head below to enjoy our interview with Gifts From Crows and head to their Instagram, Bandcamp and YouTube to discover more…
Hey, how are you today?
Excited, apprehensive, but generally all good.
Firstly, I’m intrigued – where does the name Gifts From Crows come from?
I saw a documentary about a girl who befriended the crows in her garden, and over time they brought her an intriguing collection of gifts. Corvids have always had a dark side to them, but I found this behaviour strangely touching and felt that it would work for my music.
Your album Stories in Slow Light is coming up so soon; what can we expect from this project?
My first album burst out of me after a period of not playing music and going through a lot of personal things. It sort of surprised me but also restored my faith in myself as an artist. This album is an altogether more ambitious work. In a way, the album can be thought of in two halves. The opening six tracks are quite challenging, mixing distorted synths, glitch drums and dislocated voices to create a surreal trip. The turning point is “A Resolution” which brings some light into the darkness. The remaining tracks then expand upon my neoclassic style with rich string arrangements augmenting the piano lines.
The music and photography seem to play a significant part in communicating a certain message, especially in using the body. Is this something you wanted to do right from the start? Why?
I came across Helena’s work by chance and was immediately drawn to the characters she portrays. Slow-shutter photography seems to give the figures a life beyond the 2D page. Yet, with their disappearing limbs, they are also ghostly and forever slipping away. For me, her photographs are timeless whilst also speaking to many of the challenges we face today –climate change, loneliness and mental health. These are also the themes I explore in my music.
How have you found interpreting Helena Whitten’s photography to music and its challenges?
This was really the revelatory part of the process. I would sit at the piano, placing a photo on the stand and then music would flow as if the score was hidden in the scene in front of me. There is a definite narrative to motion-blur photography, and I was just extending this through music. It definitely pushed me to compose in a different way than I have done before.
You’ve chosen Poltimore House to film your single “The Empty Mirror”; what made you choose this location?
This video is really the culmination of the creative process where Helena’s original photo literally comes to life. Dancer Kristine Berget did an incredible job of reprising Helena’s character whilst also interpreting the music. At that point, it really became a three-way collaboration. Poltimore was the location of the cover photo, and it just made sense to return there for the video shoot.
As described, the track “The Empty Mirror” is in constant flux, not conforming to a traditional structure; what does this represent?
I wanted that piece to be continually evolving. It represents the endless procession of our lives, all those who came before us and all those who have yet to be. The transmission of the light.
Looking ahead, what do you have in store for 2022?
In any body of work, there are always seeds that hint at what will come next. I am definitely ready to release an album of solo piano pieces now and that is already well underway. I also want to explore how I can make Gifts From Crows a live performance and not just a studio project.