Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Interview with Audrey Ewell, co-director of "Until The Light Takes Us"

"Until The Light Takes Us" is a documentary movie about the Norwegian black metal scene directed by Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell. I've always had a bit of a fascination with that scene's over the top corpse paint make up and church burning and violent actions. This movie looks at its history and growth and peels back the imagery to look at what it's really about, told by the musicians themselves. The movie is currently touring the festival and special screening circuit and will be playing Seattle at the Northwest Film Forum theater (1515 12th Ave on Capitol Hill) on Thursday May 28th and Saturday May 30th. Both showing are at 11:30pm, to keep them late and creepy. The directors will be at both showings.

I was fortunate enough to talk with co-director Audrey Ewell for a little bit about the movie. Here is our conversation...

10: I saw an interview with you where you mentioned you weren't really a fan of black metal and more into indie rock. Since 10 Things is mainly a music blog, I was curious as to what are some of your favorite bands?

Ewell: Right now I'm actually listening to a lot of '70s folk/psych; Fairport Convention and pretty much anything with Sandy Denny is working for me. I also have a pretty big soft spot for a band called MV + EE out of Vermont. The MV part was a major part of Tower Recordings, and now he and his girlfriend (the EE part) tour around the U.S. with their van and their dog and play shows. They are somewhere between Royal Trux, the Grateful Dead, and Tower Recordings--really lovely and spacey and sometimes jammy, but not in a bad way.

The idea that we're not into black metal is false though. We were introduced to it many years ago and were actually fascinated by the way it had things in common with a lot of the really great low-fi music that we were already fans of, like the Dead C, Throbbing Gristle, Current 93, etc. And there was an immediate, raw rage and beauty and somehow it all sounded incredibly genuine and not at all crass. A really nice change of pace from so much of the self-conscious music that always reigns supreme. I'm talking about the stuff from the early '90s, early Darkthrone, Burzum, Mayhem, etc. It's great.

10: What in the black metal scene drew your interest enough to want to do a documentary about it?

Ewell: Well, a lot of had to with the seeming contradiction between the violence and the clear, almost postmodern sensibility of some of the music, particularly Darkthrone. We were also intrigued by the fact that we loved the music, because we had not previously been into any kind of metal. It challenged our preconceptions. That's a good thing.

10: What do you hope people that see your movie take away from it?

Ewell: I hope they leave talking about it. Whether they are fans who get to see such an intimate portrayal of these very masked figures, or whether this is someone's introduction to the people, events and story of the film, our goal was to make it operate on several levels. The film tells the story of black metal, but it's about more than that. If I just state it outright, that takes away from the experience of watching the film, so I'll let the audience have whatever reaction they have, and just be glad if it affects them in some way. It has so far. Some people are disturbed by it, but most people seem to get it, and there are things that we do want to communicate through it. So far, it seems to be working, and I'm really glad, because it was tremendously hard to make, it took a really long time and was kind of an awful experience in many ways! We're sticking to fiction films after this.

10: One last question... have you ever put on corpse paint make up like the bands in the movie?

Ewell: No, but our friend in Japan has some kind of app on his phone that lets him apply corpse-paint to pictures he takes, so he's done that to ours. Japan is just awesome like that.

For more information about the film, it's showing, tickets or to watch the trailer, go to:

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