To accompany Daniel Avery’s new record Song For Alpha, the artist has collaborated with London-based design studio Flat-e to create a fully visual, merging and looping interpretation of the album spanning just over an hour.
As Song For Alpha plays with exploring “the space in which home listening and club music intersect,” Flat-e visualises this, creating a film that you could easily watch both at home or as projected visuals on a night out. The Song for Alpha film continues Daniel and Flat-e’s creative collaboration previously working on videos together, as well as the design studio creating live visuals for Jon Hopkins, Nathan Fake, Jamie Lidell and Clark.
To learn more about the expansive film which translates Daniel’s latest record into a visual feature, below we speak to both the artist and Flat-e on the process of this ambitious project which saw the studio create not one music video, but 14.
What made you want to create a visual interpretation of your latest record?
Daniel Avery: I’ll admit that I was trapped inside the musical world alone for a long time but once the record was finished, and I saw the early ideas for the sleeve design, something started coming into focus for me. The initial plan was simply to have basic visual loops to accompany each track online but once Flat-e came on board the idea evolved and accelerated at a great pace. The finished article is so much more expansive and enveloping than anything I had originally imagined.
Did you give any particular instructions to Flat-e?
Daniel: We have very similar taste in many ways but we decided not to follow any specific references too closely and instead give both the music and the visuals their own space, almost allowing them to have a will of their own. The only real wish I had at the beginning was for every video to have an analogue warmth about it. I find the hyper-high definition of many modern videos to be jarring; I like grain, distortion and feedback both in music and on film. We share a belief that there’s a power and beauty within mystery.
How do you feel about the final films? Is it strange to see your music recreated in a visual sense?
Daniel: I love every piece but I’m particularly proud of the collection as a cohesive whole as that is exactly how the music was intended. I held no pre-conceived notions of how the album should be visually represented but the lads’ work has added an entirely new dimension to the sound and, in some cases, made me hear the tracks from a different perspective. It’s fascinating to have something on which you’ve worked so hard for so long be re-calibrated in your mind. It’s an inspiring experience.
What was your relationship with Daniel Avery before working on this project?
Flat-e: Daniel’s music has been on our radar for a long time. We were big fans of Drone Logic when it came out! When we met there was an obvious instant connection with the music he was making and music we love. We talked a lot about early Autechre, our previous collaboration with LFO and the connection with the sound he was building for Song For Alpha. At this point, it wasn’t clear what direction we were going to go but it was obvious we were on a very similar wavelength.
What was your process for creating these shorts?
Flat-e: We knew right from the start that we wanted to explore different techniques of image degradation throughout all the videos. This was something which we discussed very early on and is present in the album artwork [by Matt&Dan] (which already existed when we joined the project).
Thematically, things built up in a more organic way as we were working. Dan gave us an outline of each track as he saw it, but gave us pretty much free reign to interpret that how we saw fit. The videos developed very naturally from then on and as we were working on multiple videos at any one point and they grew together cohesively.
Do you have a particular favourite song or film in the collection?
Flat-e: That’s very hard! Personally, I like Quick Eternity and Citizen Nowhere as I still find myself able to get lost in them despite going mad editing for days. It is way too hard to pick a clear favourite though.
How do you feel about the final result and how would you like users or listeners to interact with the films?
Flat-e: We’re really happy with them and overwhelmed by the positive response the films are getting at screenings and online! We love the idea of people watching the whole album in one sitting and getting totally immersed in it. That’s what I thought TV would be like in the future when I was a kid!
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.