Scott Hillier, the president of the ÉCU film festival, has left the stage. In his speech he promised a cinema experience like you’ve never seen before, unlike anything you might find at your local picture house. A sizzle reel has flashed past, offering glimpses of Hillier’s promise: grand sweeping horizons and the minutiae of the closest intimacy, twisted animated fantasies and limpid documentary realism. The film-makers have shuffled on sheepishly, expressed their thanks and their pride at being selected, and shuffled off again. The stage at the Scopitones club is momentarily vacant. It’s a small hunched figure who fills that void. In an open-necked granddad shirt and jeans, strumming and scratching at his guitar, Rémi aka Tiwayo breaks into a soulful croon, a bruised midnight voice. As he chops out chords on his sunburst semi-acoustic, he sings of fire and spoilt passion with shades of American torch songs and French chanson as the audience nod their heads appreciatively.
Paris-born Rémi’s Tiwayo project, which is usually a four piece with additional bass, drums and keys, is now two years old. And with a new CD, Wild Songs, just released, and an imminent appearance on the French TV show, Taratata, it is evidently poised for success. But this being a film festival, when I caught up with Rémi backstage at the club, we soon found ourselves talking about Spike Lee and David Lynch. He talks about the importance of a close harmony between image and music in film, of the power of music to bring about new feelings in the pictures, and admits that it would be “a dream” to have one of his songs in a film. Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill comes up as one of his favourite examples of film and music working together.
The key role of Tarantino in the revitalisation of film music over the last two decades is something that Italian dream pop group, Holidays, agree on. Holidays, from Rome, are as comfortable discussing their love for Jodorowsky’s psychedelic Mexican western, El Topo, as they are singing the praises of more mainstream fare like Hook. They follow Tiwayo on stage tonight at the ÉCU launch party with an infectious band of reverb-soaked dream pop, evoking the lo-fi surf rock of Best Coast and the hazy post-punk psychedelic sound of Crystal Stilts. There’s a distinctly cineamtic sound to their songs which many people – so the band tell me – relate to the image of a beach in winter. They claim they often have cinematic images in mind as they perform their songs and are sure any of them would be perfect for cinematic synchronisation.
In a recent video to promote their forthcoming debut album, the four-piece took to the beaches of their home town, Rome, which were once made so famous by the films of Pasolini in the sixties. Pasolini’s films once combined an oneiric lyricism with a stark, almost brutal immediacy, and some of this mood haunts the songs played by Holidays tonight at Scopitones. There was no storyboard for their beach video, “just images” insists guitarist, Alex, stressing the importance of musicians maintaining independence in order to keep control of their image, to keep it “natural”. Rémi takes a similarly free wheeling approach to his promo clips, simply taking to the streets and shooting from the hip, as Pasolini himself once did. But he’s sure of the importance of videos in age of YouTube saturation, these days, he says, “almost every band must have a video for its music”. But, he insists, the music must always come first.