Music Video of the Week. Rita B 'Travel Companion'.
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Welcome to the first blog post on our new website (more about that later).
Part of our philosophy here at Lennox Groove is that we want to celebrate the whole Australian indie community and this includes all those creators that lend their art to music including film-makers, stylists, graphic artists, producers, photographers and more.
Each week we will be featuring an Australian Music Video of the Week. You can also subscribe to our YouTube page where we will playlist the films we feature. We have packed the playlist with some of our favorite films over the last year or so. Click here for 'Turned Up! Lennox Groove's Australian Music Video Collection'
To kick off the series this week we will feature two films, the first from Rita B for her new single 'Travel Companion' by film-maker Maisie Cohen and the second from Psychedelic Porn Crumpets for their new single ''Lava Lamp Pisco' which we will feature later this week.
We start today with the music video for Rita B's latest single 'Travel Companion' created by film maker Maisie Cohen. Rita B is a Wollongong based musician who represents the best of emerging Australian indie music. They explore indie folk with a honest whimsy that is so engaging and endearing. For fans of artists such as Courtney Barnett, Rat Hammock, Field Medic, Jade Imagine, Julia Jacklin and Stella Donnelly. You can treat yourself to the rest of Rita B's catalog HERE
Travel Companion was produced by Guy Fenech at Rolodex Sound Leichhardt and mastered by Nick Franklin (Clews, Polish Club)
We instantly fell in love with this beautiful film. The whole piece is just drenched in melancholy and the muted colours of our beautiful outback under the harsh dry light. Anyone who has journeyed long distances along our country roads will relate to that creeping desolate lonely feeling that overcomes you as you realise you might be many hours walk from the nearest human.
The landscape is captured in Cohen's lense in a honestly brutal way. Revealed are those towns far enough away from the rush that their buildings haven't bothered to change. Not because of any desire to protect the past, but that there just wasn't the demand. The faded old servo and the dusty drive up motel remind you of the ones in your town when you were young, but now long gone.
We spoke to film maker Maisie Cohen about the project: I met Bianca (Rita B) how I’ve met many amazing creative people in my life; through sharing a house with them! Around five years ago, she moved into my place in Marrickville and we started collaborating together very quickly. It’s so nice working with people who are also close friends. I know she trusts my creative judgement and I respect her musical talent immensely, so it’s a joy for us to combine our skills through making music videos together.
For 'Travel Companion', it just so happened that I’d been wanting to go to Lake Mungo for years, after seeing some pretty amazing, other-worldly imagery from there, so I asked Bianca (Rita B) if she’d be game for a music video road trip, and she was! We gathered two other friends to come along and help with the video, and set out for a week on the road. I’m Sydney-based and Bianca is now living near Wollongong, but we were both keen to get out into some wide open spaces, out of our usual surroundings.
I’d done a lot of research in the lead-up to the trip so that we’d find the things we were looking for - I’d noticed that a lot of NSW country towns in the area have a lot of art deco architecture, which I love, so I wanted to include that and you see a fair few art deco buildings in the clip. I was also looking for shabby-chic old, rustic shopfronts and we found a fair few of those too. I love these little nuggets of history that remain untouched from decades ago. We were also looking for cool-looking petrol stations to help portray the road tripping story, and there were no shortage of these. Rural NSW is a goldmine of awesome visuals, as the makers of the original Mad Max would no doubt attest to! Some things were accidental finds, like the giant clown head that was abandoned in an old lot. We came across it at the last place we stopped on our way back to Sydney, and of course I dragged Bianca out to get some shots with it!
The dilapidated/abandoned appearance of some of these buildings and locations we chose to shoot at helped to portray some of the themes of loneliness in the song… a feeling of being left behind. I was definitely also looking for that kitschy, touristy, retro aesthetic, as that’s what first came to mind when I listened to the song. That’s why we sought out certain things, like having her visiting the giant Merino Sheep, and the shots of the motel with the palm trees and the pool.
I feel like there is something intrinsically Australian about Bianca’s music, in the tone of her voice and her pronunciation of words, so locating her in very specific Australian landscapes really worked for the song.
I can’t say I was inspired by specific films or filmmakers for this video, but my love of films in general would have played a part in the imagery that came to mind when listening to the song. For example, there is something about the film Tracks that perhaps has echoes in this project - the wide open, dusty landscapes and the strong, solo female traveller as the protagonist. I also quite like David Lynch’s films, Lost Highway was one I connected to. I like the inexplicable eeriness he achieves in his imagery, and there are a few shots in the video that are reminiscent of that mysteriousness… the shots moving through the hotel hallways at night, and the glowing lamp - shots that are sort of ‘empty’ but give hints to parts of the story that could be sinister, or could be simply lonely.
I shot this on my trusty Sony A7SII, which is ideal because it’s light-weight and very good in low light. I pop it on my gimbal and I’m completely mobile to go and explore and shoot in any situation. This was great, for example, when we were shooting at the sand dunes in Lake Mungo National Park, and we were climbing these slippery-sand mountains in the midday heat.
Our production assistants, who also doubled as extras in the video, were Drew Harrison Norley and Ariki Hita. Drew is also a filmmaker, and shot some extra footage which I used in the music video, as well as shooting lots of behind the scenes footage for us. We had been aware of each other’s work for a while before we actually met - Drew has a project called Field Work that records live outdoor sessions with local musicians, and I’d been following this before we ended up meeting and working together.
I studied film production at UTS, and I’ve worked on several short films over the years, but as a great lover of music, I guess it’s not surprising I’ve ended up mostly making music videos. It’s a perfect synthesis of art forms that I adore, and a great way for me to connect with people I admire and create something really special together. My advice to anyone starting out in film or photography is just do what you love, what fascinates you; try and work with people on the same wavelength as you creatively, who you respect, and make your own shit happen! Almost all of my projects have come about because I made them happen - I didn’t wait for opportunities to come knocking. Eventually they will, once you’ve made the connections and people come back to you, but in the beginning it’s up to you to reach out to others and show what you have to offer.
You can see my other video work on my website; maisiecohen.com. My favourite projects are the ones that allow me to get crafty and work on the set designs too, like with Satellites for Mish Mash Radio Ensemble and She Wolf for Wahoo Ghost. It could be that I’m a bit of a control freak, but I love doing multiple roles and executing my vision to the very last detail!
Finally I would just say that it’s really important for me to connect with the song that I’m making a video for. I have to really like it to be able to feel it, and create visuals that compliment the music. This is why I choose the projects I work on quite selectively. If I listen to the song and I feel something, I start seeing images in my mind, I get very excited, almost obsessive, to the point where I’ve planned the whole thing out and I’m waking up in the middle of the night frantically writing ideas into my phone notes app. And I think this is the most exciting part - bringing a vision that comes to you to life, experimenting with new and different techniques, and seeing what the fusion of two, or multiple, different minds and different art forms can create.
Photo - Maisie Cohen, Photographer - Daniel Boud
Thanks to the legends at Beehive PR for introducing us to this amazing track and film. What a pleasure!