Quick: what, in your opinion, are Sofia Coppola’s three best films? If you included The Beguiled, do you, I guess. For musician, producer and visual director Speelburg, they've got to be The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. I know this because one day I woke up to an email with a link to a music video, in which he’s recreated scenes from those now-iconic films.
He sings “Screener Season” (yep, named after this time of year when pirated rips of the awards-season contender press screeners end up online) from Coppola's perspective, using the track’s velvet-smooth, funky, synthy pop to ask questions about legacy and only being as good as the last thing you made. And so the video acts as an homage to her too, shot during last summer’s heatwave in Brighton, as a proper DIY project. And I really do mean, 'let's get this equipment and do it ourselves' DIY: as Speelburg tells me, they filmed the outdoor shots in a park near his home and "all the indoor shots are in my apartment actually – I’m glad my girlfriend was at work that day".
And fair play, The resulting video, which we're premiering here, takes on that Coppola soft-focus style. But it still maintains the tongue-in-cheek humour that's become Speelburg's calling card in the past couple of years, since he debuted in about 2014. “All the videos I’ve been on or have made, there’s always something that can go wrong,” Speelburg says, when I ask about the shoot. “And there’s a real ‘fuck it’ attitude that you maybe get less with music-making these days (unless you’re recording everything live). If/when something doesn’t go to plan, you have to just decide there and then: ‘fuck it, we don’t need that shot,’ or ‘fuck it, we can’t find any blonde actresses for the Virgin Suicides shots? We’ll just use the co-director, camera operator and my buddy Brad’.”
And so they do, in scenes that flicker from a Suicides-style congregation around a tree, in Brighton's Preston Park, to Speelburg frolicking in a wild, white Marie Antoinette-style wig – in case you were also wondering, it was handmade by his friend and sometimes bassist, Laurie. The music itself stems from an album that Speelburg wrote super-quickly, while waiting for a previous album to get through the release process.
“I don’t know if rappers are still putting out mixtapes the way they were five years ago – which was basically putting out an album without calling it your debut album – but yeah, I kind of wanted to do that.” He says he spent two and a half years working on a Big Debut Album, getting it mixed and mastered for good money. “While I was finishing that one up, without any pressure to write any new music or any big singles or whatever, I started writing a few new songs and by the time I was done mixing one record, I had pretty much finished another.” That album, due out on 22 March, is called Character Actor.
From what I've heard so far, the album deploys Speelburg's usual arsenal: that killer falsetto, playfully arranged guitars and synths and melodies that can evoke Connan Mockasin one moment, and Father John Misty or "The Bay"-era Metronomy the next. He's feeling "excited, scared and probably a little relieved" about the technically-second album's arrival, he tells me. "I didn’t put as much pressure on myself as my debut, so I got to get really weird with it, musically and lyrically. There’s like ten songs about the moon landing, the movie industry, Are You Afraid Of The Dark?, strangers living in your attic and an orchestral Randy Newman-esque ending." As far as Coppola's top three goes, he does admit Somewhere would have been cool to recreate too, but "there was no Chateau Marmont in Brighton, so that was off the menu". Mostly, he hopes Coppola might one day watch the video. "That would be really fun."
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.