Just as electropop outfit Vlossom started to blossom, Covid cut it down like a scythe. The accomplished duo – Nick Littlemore and Alister Wright – speak with John Moyle about Vlossom’s genesis, their calling card single ‘Catch Your Breath’, its landmark video and Vlossom’s future.
Covid has wrought so much havoc on plans across the music world it seems that it has been overdone as a disrupter, but it is also one of the first things Nick Littlemore mentions when speaking with the Sentinel about his latest project, the electro pop unit Vlossom.
“Covid has really come right in the centre of our moment as we were getting a lot of momentum with Vlossom on Spotify and with fans,” Littlemore said.
“I’m alright in my other projects as they are well established and it is OK to have a hiatus, but it is different when you are launching a new project.”
Vlossom was born in 2019 when Littlemore (Empire of the Sun, Pnau) encountered Alister Wright (Cloud Control) in an Adelaide street and knew instantly that they had to work together.
“When I saw Alister when we were both touring there was … a little bit of a halo around him,” Littlemore said.
“There something very special about him.”
Wright was the rhythm guitarist in the Blue Mountains-based four piece rock band Cloud Control who, despite critical and live success, after some 12 years of hard work did not manage to break through and in 2018 disbanded.
With his tall and thin physique topped off by a head of white hair and formidable vocal prowess, Wright had been part of Cloud Control since 2005 and was missing being part of an ongoing project.
“Alister is an amazing performer and if you see him live, he is something else,” Littlemore said.
“And for him it was like having a limb cut off.”
Littlemore had been working on songs outside of Pnau and was in LA developing backing tracks with Tim Lefebvre from Bowie’s Blackstar band and the late George Michael’s musical director Henry Hey, and called Alister in for a couple of days.
“I had not lyrics so much as just melodies and phrasing, and I took that away and edited together and wrote the lyrics as to what I thought he was singing and what I thought his intention was,” Littlemore said.
“It all happened so quickly and I wrote more songs with Peter (Mayes), my partner in Pnau and the label (Lab78), and it all felt incredibly natural.”
“It was probably nine months before we were on set to shoot ‘Catch Your Breath’.
“In this business there is a lot of fury and then a great pause that can really test ones’ concentration to stay in it.”
For the ‘Catch Your Breath’ clip, Littlemore called on the talents of LA-based British-born director Nicolas Randall, who specialises in high-end advertising work but has worked with Cardi B and Midnight to Monaco, who Littlemore wrote songs with.
“I’ve known Nicolas for around 15 years and I’ve always wanted to do something with him as I just like the level he works at and I felt that I had finally found something that was worthy of his vision and it came together really naturally,” Littlemore said.
“I did urge Nicolas to take some psychedelics, as the whole song and the project is based around trips that Alister and I did in my garden in LA, but Nicolas is not of the persuasion to do those sorts of things.”
Randall had something of a mutual admiration for Littlemore and was quick to adopt Wright.
“It was great to work with Nick and Al, as they had such a good story behind them,” Randall told the Sentinel.
“With the video I approached it as a teenager and find the lyrics for the conceptual interpretation for what I am feeling visually and this one was a joy to work on in terms of lyrics and because it is a very sensuous song in terms of lyrics and the themes.
“We were using ‘Catch Your Breath’ almost as if it was your first and last breath, so it informed a lot of the scenes of reincarnation.
“Using choreography, we wanted to tell the story of the song and reincarnation through dance and that was the essence of this clip.”
The search for the all important locations took the team to an old Jewish mausoleum located in the outskirts of LA but that left them with the problem that Wright had no dance experience.
“Moving to music is a new thing for me without a guitar. You can focus on playing the guitar, but when you’re just by yourself, it’s like, ‘What do I do with my body?’” Wright said.
“I felt really supported and able to explore the space in a way that I never had before,” he said.
Randall further explained: “We spent five days rehearsing and Al hadn’t really done any dancing before and the choreographer had to work with him to teach him how to use his body as a performance.
“He’s extremely lean and skeletal and he is very fit at the same time.”
For the shoot Randall chose ultra prime movie lenses and shot in HD on an ARRI Alexa with cinematographer Benjamin Kitchen, who usually shoots film.
The majority of the clip was shot in camera so when Al floats up on a rig the background was painted out.
“It was the first time that I had ventured out in around six months due to a health problem and I went to the film shoot and Alister was hanging halfway in the sky and I thought, ‘This is fine, I can leave now’,” Littlemore said.
“We also did some work with an old VHS camera and we shot a lot of sky and clouds and flowers using this,” Randall said.
‘Catch Your Breath’ was finished using Final Cut Pro “and it was a labour of love as I don’t do many video clips, but when I do I like them to be artistic and try to draw in really talented people who also want to use the project as an artistic expression”, Randall said.
The clip eventually came in for around $30K and Randall said that it was really tough to even get that.
Despite Covid, Vlossom has been able to release an EP (My Friend, available through Lab78), while the track ‘Lucky’ – with Wright singing and originally planned for Vlossom – has been released as a Pnau single and clip.
As for Vlossom’s future Wright said: “We hang out and chat, lots of laughing and all these songs fall out, and there is much more to come.”
John Moyle is the associate editor and special writer for the Sydney Sentinel.
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