Juno Calypso & Compulsory in conversation

Carmine_Cloudboat2 Carmine_Cloudboat3 Working with others to bring a big vision alive, can be a challenging yet rewarding process. Artist Juno Calypso and Chris Toumazou from production company Compulsory – who are steadily building up a stellar portfolio for the likes of Five Easy Pieces, Tape Club Records and Sony – collaborated on the recent Carmine music video for Cloud Boat. The pair share with us how the collaboration come about. As Rob Base & the late DJ E-Z Rock would say, ‘It takes two to make a thing go right.’ Chris Toumazou (Compulsory): What was your first reaction when I told you I wanted to collaborate on art direction? Juno Calypso: I’ve been wary of collaborations in the past because I’m so used to working completely alone, but I’d been trying to get out of that comfort zone for a while so agreed to meet up straight away. Your approach was pretty good as well. I remember your email being really legit and well mannered; so much so that I half expected to be greeted by an office full of suits. It was a nice surprise that we both turned out to be regular young Londoners. I remember you saying to me when we met ‘I’m so glad you’re normal’. So I guess there are expectations both ways between a company and an artist. JC: Did you think I was going to be weird and serious? Yes. I mean I knew you wouldn’t have ‘art world’ tattooed on your personality, because what I love about your work is this appreciation for certain simple objects that are quite exaggerated. Also, as weird as this is to say I stalked some online reviews till I found a video interview of you that was really chilled and funny. That’s when I realised I was onto something. We worked well together because I think our tastes and styles are similar, but we clicked, having grown up in London and how it’s definitely informed how we approach things. CT: What did you draw from? JC: I knew you liked my work so I didn’t stretch too far away from that aesthetic, but then I think in our first meeting you showed me a video by Roy Andersson and it sent my mind wild. The day we went to Shepherds Bush Market was another good one. Buying props and costumes is my favourite bit of making my own work, so it was a dream to be allocated that role and have other people in charge of lighting and camera work. I remember you mentioned you’ve usually taken on art direction and styling yourself – how was it being able to focus completely on your role as director? Especially since you shot this all on 35mm which isn’t exactly a relaxing process… CT: I enjoyed having more time to work on casting and making sure that I managed to create the atmosphere I envisioned. For me, art direction is a paramount part of the process in making a video and in a way a stamp of my traits to date. By collaborating I didn’t want to change that, but bring it up a notch. I didn’t want a native ‘art director’ and by meeting you it was the fact that you were an artist that attracted me. It was a sense that no matter what, you would approach the project with an entirely different mind-set. You and I are quite self-sufficient creatively – we’ve both had to make our own thing happen and that’s something that you brought so effectively to the video. Shooting on film was a good way of structuring my thoughts as a director. I didn’t have playback on set as with digital, and the director’s monitor was basically just a framing guide as it was standard definition. It was nice as I spent more time looking at the actors’ performance by eye during camera rehearsals rather than the screen. CT: What’s your favourite colour and why? JC: Pale pastel pink. It makes my eyes happy. It also has really conflicting associations – it can be tender, youthful, artificial, or sweet and pleasurable, or to some people just the colour pink can make them feel annoyed or embarrassed which makes me like it even more. What’s yours? CT: Turquoise. I don’t know why…]]>

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