As anyone who has had the privilege would surely attest, Jemma Freeman And The Cosmic Something are one of the London-scene’s most exciting live bands. As the rhythm section propel the songs forward, Jemma is the charismatic counter-point to their laid back cool. A whirling dervish of a front-person, whether delivering inimitable guitar-lines astride the monitors, spitting lyrical pronouncements into the microphone or dropping to her knees overcome by the emotion of it all, Jemma is never anything short of entirely into it. How on earth do you translate to recorded format? Well, further evidence that it is possible, comes today in the shape of new single, Heaven On A Plate, the video to which we’re premiering here today.
Heaven On A Plate has, in Jemma’s own words, “a kind of euphoric despair”, it is a song that looks at what the world is offering and refuses to accept its lot. As Jemma explains, “describing an unwanted experience as heaven on a plate feels like the ultimate inaccurate reaction, the most extreme hyperbolic distraction from our true feelings. We are trained to accept inequality, to thank people for situations we have never wished to be in. Most of the time people don’t see our struggles and this social mask only makes things harder.”
Musically, the track is a masterclass in capturing the energy of a moment. The track was written in a single afternoon and is a reflection of what Jemma describes as, ” he angular, frustrated mood I was in.” The guitar riffing just fizzes with energy, as Jemma’s vocals, simultaneously recalling the steady delivery of Kate Jackson and the energy of Karen O, swoop and soar atop the mix providing much of the melody. You can check out the video below, and then read on for Jemma’s memories of filming the video, the concept behind it and how the video’s creator, Taylan Mutaf crash-landed into their life.
I’ve known filmmaker Taylan Mutaf for about two years, our first meeting could not have been more unusual; the night he moved into our shared house he fell through the attic floor, crashed through the ceiling and landed on my bunk bed below. Luckily I wasn’t in it at the time and was safely asleep at my girlfriends house, fortunately for him he managed to save himself from any serious injury and just scared himself, quite a lot. This dramatic entrance into each others worlds proved to be both cathartic and creative. From the moment we were introduced we had to work together as a team and conjure up a way to remove the thick swathe of ancient dust that had settled across every surface in the room. In an odd twist of fate this crash landing occurred on the eve of the very first Cosmic Something recording session where aptly enough we laid down the bones of The Visitor from our first EP. For this reason it feels to me like there is a kind of cosmic connection from then on!
After I play a show I find it hard to wind down, I give very intense performances and I almost feel like I could burst with adrenaline, I tend to stay up very late and delve into the recesses of iplayer for company. I love all the 70’s old grey whistle test and archived Top of The Pops shows, the spotlight starbursts and trippy camerawork to me seem beautiful. In a time before music videos the vision mixers on those shows were so creative with the tools they had. I love how haphazard, naive and psychedelic some of the lighting and editing choices end up being, they veer so far from the norm they metamorphosise into abstract light paintings but with an amazing soundtrack. With this concept in mind I planned to make a straight homage to this style and use Mark our bass players recording studio live room, it has a plethora of vintage amps, drums and modular synths and a woody 70’s feel so it seemed perfect.
Around the same time we were talking about making a video for Heaven on a plate Mark was making a soundpeice to accompany his friend Luciettas artwork. She had developed a special pinhole lens that could be used on digital cameras, because of the size of the aperture it only really worked in very bright light and she had captured some fantastic shots in Venice of sunlight playing on the water and of people working on red hot glass, sparks flying in a darkened factory. The pinhole lens not only creates beautiful abstractions but has an unusual soft focus effect making everything feel nostalgic and other worldly. We were so happy when she agreed to release the footage to be incorporated into the video and it really sparked a desire to make something more unusual than my initial concept once we started filming.
The whole shoot was put together by the band and Taylan, we spent about 3 hours dressing the set and dotting it with significant personal possessions and trinkets, notably drummer Hami’s collection of twelve cafetiere lids, Taylans two temperamental disco lights and a large toy lion belonging to our keytarist Krupa. The whole production was very diy, including the lighting which literally came from a hardware store and generated so much heat in the sound proof insulated recording studio that at times we thought we might pass out. Taylan brought along a cut glass diamond and we did a few test shots filming through it, it became clear immediately that the dissected world of incomplete repeats it produced would serve as the core of the footage.
As we were packing up at the end of the shoot Taylan noticed that Mark had an old Hi8 camera in the control room, it hadn’t been used for years because the charger was missing. Unbelievably once the camera was taken out of the case Taylan realised he had the correct charger for it at his studio but had never had the camera…it seemed too serendipitous a moment not to incorporate it into the final film somehow, so the final edit was re-filmed through it. The video is very multilayered, sometimes there are ten tracks of footage playing at the same time, faces emerge and dissolve, sometimes the lights are from the room and sometimes they are shimmers from another time and another place. I love how the imagery interacts with the content of the song, a distant sadness and pathos echoed and refracted in countless, untraceable ways, the grain of the hi8 distancing and softening everything even further.
Heaven On A Plate is out this Friday. Click HERE for more information on Jemma Freeman & The Cosmic Something.