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24th Oct 2011

Barrowclough: Interview with Knox Harrington (video artist)



Just before the release of Barrowclough’s ‘My Hyundai’ video, Mr Zang caught up with the video’s reclusive director, Knox Harrington (video artist). From ‘just a friend of Maudie’s’ to a major player in the fast expanding arthouse genre of ‘film sans image ou sons’, Knox proved quite forthcoming on everything from gangsta rap to Tranmere Rovers…

So, Mr Harrington, please introduce yourself to those unfamiliar with your oeuvre.
(a high pitched, wheezy cackle followed for almost a minute that became a feature of our interview)… Well, I began my work with the medium of ‘film’ when I was asked to produce a series of music videos for the German electro-pop group, Autobahn. When was it? Late 80s I think. The video for "Technopop (Wie Glauben)" was particularly successful and led to a short documentary on the group before we fell out for ideological reasons. Since then its been mainly fruit commercials oh, and of course the movies. (More cackling) I almost forgot the movies.

How did you end up working with Barrowclough?
I became familiar with Michaelis Constant when still living in LA. I mean, everyone was bumping Michaelis in 99/2000. They were particularly big with the gangs. Especially the Hispanic gangs. They loved those guys. There were rumours that MC Eiht and Kid Frost were in line to appear on a Michaelis remix, but it never materialised. Actually, not many people back home know this but ‘Gondwanaland’ was initially banned in most US states because the gang link was so strong. The track ‘lifeblood’ was seen as potentially incendiary. Once people cottoned on to the religious angle though, things sort of died down, but for a while, you know, it was kind of crazy.
Anyway, I got a call last year from Jonny and at first I thought he was Tutall. When I found out he was the guy who used to be called Damaj I was a bit reluctant as I’d always thought he was the weak link in Michaelis, but when I heard his solo stuff, it all made sense. Now I listen back to Michaelis stuff and I’m like yeah, I hate penalties too. Not just football penalties, but any sort of negative consequence for things I’ve done. You’ve got to look beneath the surface with Barrowclough. He’s a visionary. A lyrical cantaloupe if you know what I mean. From there it all fell into place.

So how did the concept for the video come together?
I feel that often the genre of the ‘video musique’ is damaged by an over concentration on the ‘musique’. I like to make the video without actually listening to the song and then edit it afterwards. My personal preference is then to eliminate all images and sounds from the final cut but Zang felt this would be a little radical for a first collaboration. Anyway, Barrowclough was a little (how can I put it?) reticent about my methods but went along with it and simply sent me some David Lynch and Jan Svankmajer shorts and said he wanted something like that. I felt that the final piece was true to the soul of both of those directors. And of course amazingly there is the car link which was fortuitous (more cackling. Then some more.)

You’re back living in your home town now, in Liverpool. Do you prefer life in England or America?
Oh, England every time. The art scene in LA was frenetic and Iowa has some nice wildlife but I missed home for every moment when I was abroad. I mean, lots of Americans didn’t understand a word I said. I ended up hanging out with Europeans mostly over there. Liverpool is better in pretty much every way- the food, the pubs, the telly, the footy. I watch the Rovers (Tranmere) play most weeks. They’re the only real football club left in Liverpool. You know what I mean? Real football.

So finally what’s next for Knox Harrington?
Well, obviously I’ve had to lie low for a little while after the furore over the release of ‘Yeti Girl’. I don’t think people were quite ready for that, but its opened a few minds and that’s what I intended. Now, lets see, I’ve been working on some idents for BBC 2. The Autobahn comeback album. Uli and I have made up. Its going to be good. Two new movies in production for 2012. Its busy.

Thank you Knox. Its been a pleasure.





Keywords:
Barrowclough, hyundai, zang, Knox Harrington
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