Music

Watch Listen Tell

Posted by Alex Bec,
  • Speech
  • Bbbc
  • Broadcast2000
  • Florence
  • Life_in_film
  • Peggy_sue

Watch Listen Tell is the brainchild of Dave Tree, a director with a real passion for live music. He and partner Ben Axtell created a project takes artists out of their comfort zones and onto the streets, armed with nothing but their talent. The results are resonantly honest and arresting, making it clear that Dave knows what live music should be about.

Pictured is a session with Speech Debelle, who was last night crowned with the Mercury Music Prize for the best UK or Ireland based album of the year. Click through for lots of beautiful stills and links to other great sessions.

Hi Dave, could you give us a brief description of what Watch Listen Tell is?

It originally was a pilot for a music show I wanted to get commissioned. However, I got sidetracked making a film last year and WLT started to just take up a life of it’s own. I got bored of the way live music was being presented and packaged, I wanted WLT to be something different. Simply put, it’s a unique music channel, featuring new artists playing live music.

For those who don’t know – what’s your background? Have you filmed music before?

I started in film but through a love for music ended up becoming a live music director. I’ve been directing live music for over 10 years now. I’ve been heavily involved in the technological developments of music video content, being created for the internet. The first video streamed through Apple’s Itunes, was a music session I created with The Cure.

How do you choose who to film for WLT?

It’s really a case of keeping an ear out for new music and searching it out. I try to keep an open mind, it’s funny how when you really listen to a lot of new stuff, things do just jump out at you. Most of the time when we film artists for WLT they aren’t even signed, as was the case with Florence and the Machine. Working with artists at that level is a joy because they are as flexible and enthusiastic as you.

How is it any different to your run of the mill recorded acoustic performances?

I felt as a director that live music video wasn’t doing it’s own thing. I felt it was caught between trying to sound as good as a produced album and as slick as a music video. It shouldn’t be either one of those, because it ends up being a poor copy. This is live music and thats exactly how it should be, warts and all. It’s funny how after years of working in studios and multi-camera set-ups, that I should be pushing single camera, on the street corner performances.

People and fans should get a hint about the personality of an artists, that’s something I felt was lacking. I want WLT to represent the artists, not to be something they are being shoehorned into or packaged. Music happens everywhere and anywhere, if you are talented you don’t need much. We leave a certain amount to improvisation, bands sometimes play railings or find other ways to create an instrument they don’t have with them. This makes the track they play totally unique, that’s what I think fans and music lovers like. There’s a feeling it could all go wrong at any moment, just like going to see a gig.

The films have a really recognisable look to them – what did you shoot them on?

I use a stills camera with video capability, this allows me to shoot like a 35mm film camera. I chose it because I’ve only got one camera. As director, I can’t cut to another angle. But I can pull focus, drawing the viewers eye to where I want them to look. It’s kinda like editing but done on the fly, visually through camera and live. It’s not easy when you’re in a busy place and you only get one take!

Finally, what can we expect in the coming months from WLT and who would you like to film the most?

We’ve been striking gold with Florence and now Speech, so more of the same really. Some great artists have been showing interest in filming with us. I can’t really comment till it happens but it’s all exciting. We’d love to start shooting WLT abroad too, there’s so much great music coming out all over the place. The Temper Trap are over from Australia touring. If we don’t get them, go see them, it gets a big WLT thumbs up.

Ab-300

Posted by Alex Bec

Alex is one of the directors of It’s Nice That who now oversees our sister creative agency INT Works. For several years he oversaw the Monday Morning Music Video feature until it came to an end in 2014.

Most Recent: Film View Archive

  1. List

    It’s fair to say that at some point towards the end of last year we reached peak process video, subsumed by a wave of formulaic offerings that were neither interesting nor exciting. So when we came across this new film from Aesop, slightly pompously called The Guild of Artisans it didn’t quicken our pulses. But in actual fact beyond the title, this is a rare example of a process film that’s well worth a watch. It follows the journey of Aesop’s jars and bottles being crafted and although there’s one or two things we’ve seen before, the moody imagery is brilliantly shot and there’s a few moments which set the teeth on edge. Anyone planning a craft process film in the near future take note; this is how it should be done!

  2. Main15

    This year, before the fire at the Glasgow School of Art, Frieze travelled up to the city to speak to some its most integral artists and curators about the nature of Glaswegian creativity. From the community “come one, come all” vibes of the 1970s, to the work inspired by the flattening of the tenements to make way for high-rise blocks, these wise talking heads portray a tough city of freedom and spontaneity, underlined with a brutal sadness from times when things weren’t too great. They speak of the time Allen Ginsberg came to town, the wonder of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the gallery boom of the 1990s, and the appeal of the grand buildings in Glasgow with their sweeping staircases and enormous, trademark bay windows providing such beautiful white, Scottish light.

  3. Main

    Remember that incredible Action Bronson music video that saw him tearing down a highway in the style of Easy Rider? Well the director, Tom Gould, is back with some more sound and vision to get you going today. For his latest piece, Tom ventured into a well-known strip club in New Zealand called LAS VEGAS, which happens to be the oldest in the country. Rather than making a run-of-the-mill gritty doc about an old club in decay, Tom decided to concentrate on a curious story within the establishment by way of Adrian, the DJ at the nightclub who has worked there for over 40 years. The clincher? Adrian strictly refers to himself as the “Sound & Lighting Technician,” and is something of an eccentric, wizened old man with a good story to tell. Intrigued? See for yourself.

  4. Main2

    “Family is like a soup, everyone adds an extra scoop, mix an ounce of smiles so sweet, a dash of cool to add the heat and you’ve got….too many cooks!” So goes the lyrics for a theme-tune to what looks like a 1980s/90s family sitcom à la Third Rock From The Sun or Home Improvement. It’s actually the latest work of the lords of online comedy, Adult Swim. This insane new infomercial is a homage to the opening credits of yore, featuring smiling children and chino-donning dads smiling and tossing baseballs at a seemingly unexpected camera.

  5. List-screen-shot-2014-11-07-at-14.52.17

    Describing himself as a ‘stuffmaker’, Mac Premo is a Washington DC-born, trilby-sporting collagist, animator, commercial director and carpenter. For a man with a name that sounds a bit like a burger chain ice-cream sundae, he’s really not done too badly. His fascinating, genre-spanning practice and semblance as an all-round good guy has now been brought to life in a charming film by Bas Berkhout, which is so beautifully shot that every frame could stand alone as a documentary snap of Mac’s life.

  6. List-gihpy

    Just when Dark Igloo had surpassed all of our expectations with Bored Game, a parody of every Christmas board game advert ever made combined into one super film presented by a creepy wizard, they’ve come back with This is GIPHY, an of-the-moment news report about the state of the online world. The only way to enjoy it is to allow yourself to be completely bamboozled by a talking dog with a penchant for basketball, a man wearing a pizza going over the weather report (which is actually a report on the state of the Giphy homepage) and a rapid exchange of GIFs so prolific and so great that you’ve probably already emailed them to a workmate at some point or other. Those Dark Igloo guys are completely and utterly nuts, and we love, LOVE them for it.

  7. Main

    London’s a little greyer now one of our favourite illustrators Jean Jullien is trying out a new life across the pond in New York. Luckily for us his agent Handsome Frank grabbed him for a little while before he scooted off and made this lovely little film about his work. It seems we always talk about Jean, but to see him draw and actually speak honestly about his practice is a true joy.

  8. Main

    Hardly anyone’s been on an uphill-climb as fast as Tyrone Lebon. One day he plopped into our lives with his photographs and films, and then the next minute he’s everywhere – shooting people all over the world and being talked about by countless magazines and websites. Just to reassure us that he’s no flash in the pan he’s just created this fantastic, informed collage of a film.

  9. Main

    If you’re slightly unhappy in your day-to-day job and secretly feel that perhaps you should be doing something a tad more creative, look away now. This film leads you up whitewashed stairs to a gargantuan, high-ceilinged New York studio, inhabited by two well-known artists, Ana Kras and Devendra Banhart. We’ve featured Ana’s work a few times on the site for her beautiful, simplistic, friendly furniture design and works on paper.

  10. List-3

    I’m happy to admit that after watching all three minutes and 47 seconds of Stevie Gee’s new music video for Archie Bronson Outfit, my computer desktop is littered with so many screenshots of boobs, beers and motorbikes in psychedelic hues that I can scarcely find anything else. And the thing is I don’t even mind.

  11. Main

    This is nuts. When you thought OK GO couldn’t do any better in one take than their last, famed effort then think again. The foursome are back with one of the most staggering efforts in the history of music videos, this time set in some sort of airport where the gang ride around on electronic unicycles popping umbrellas with about 1000 extras to form kaleidoscopic patterns when shot from above. The jaw dropping first few minutes is totally trumped in the last minute where the whole formation quadruples in size leaving you with your jaw resting on the desk in front of you. Unreal.

  12. List

    There are moments in life when Abba really seem to speak to us. Not just in how the band really seems to get how it feels to be seeing the winner smugly taking it all, or to be terribly grateful for the music, but in the literal sense that they’re actually talking to us. This nonsense is all now a reality thanks to the superb video for beatboxer Roy Kafri’s single Mayokero that’s been doing the internet rounds for a few days.

  13. List

    Some writers create page-turners; masters of narrative and plot that compel you to keep on reading. In some ways Joan Didion is the opposite, although her writing is no less compelling. When reading her work, its brilliance stops me dead over and over again, such is her ability to analyse a person, a place or a concept and then articulate her thoughts.