The Director Explains: Essie Holt - 'Distant Places' (feat. LANKS)

Director Riley Spadaro speaks to us about the dark and powerfully choreographed visuals for Essie Holt’s devastatingly beautiful single, ‘Distant Places’ (feat. LANKS).
Describing the song as her “most personal and raw song yet”, Essie Holt’s “Distant Places’ is a deeply moving track, packing an almighty emotional punch within its minimalist execution.

 Director Riley Spadaro Explains:
Where was the video for Distant Places filmed?
 The abandoned train tunnels beneath St James Station. 

How does the video connect with the song?
The song, at least for me, is about the failure of love – about two people who can no longer hear each other. A woman dancing alone in a flooded underground tunnel felt like an oddly appropriate visual response. 

Any noteworthy behind the scenes stories?
Yes, prior to shooting, we were given a guided tour through the underground tunnel system beneath St James Station. In one of the tunnels was a painting of a pentagram. Apparently, years ago, a group of cultists broke into the tunnels and sacrificed an animal. They were found by security because the smoke from the sacrificing came up through the floors of the station platform. 

Could you tell us about the ideas/ themes/ imagery used? 
In pre-production, Grace and I looked at the plays of Samuel Beckett, particularly Happy Days and Footfalls. His plays are often about a failure to move on, about wanting and not wanting to leave somewhere or someone, and about the limitations of language – composed of fragmented utterances, repetitions, contradictions and silences. He also tends to trap his characters inside mounds of dirt, waste bins, and giant silos. In both content and form, 'Distant Places' is curiously ‘Beckettian’ – a failure of love, the chords never quite resolve and silences linger in the space between. So we decided to use Beckett’s imagery as a departure point for the visual language of our video. The image of a woman dancing alone in a flooded underground tunnel could be something ripped out of the pages of a play by Beckett. Like the music, the image is melancholic and sorrowing. 

Is there a message the video is trying to convey?  
To quote Amy Winehouse: “love is a losing game.

Interview feature by Karla Harris