Published on Aug 9, 2012
A COMPILATION VIDEO WITH EXCERPTS FROM THE DVD BILLIE RAY MARTIN'S 'FIVE TAKES (A SONG ABOUT ANDY)
DETAILS AND BUY AT: WWW.BILLIERAYMARTIN.COM
Billie Ray Martin releases this 8 panel deluxe DVD, featuring five movies inspired by Andy Warhol's Screen Tests and printed in colour and silver metallic. The song 'On Borrowed Time' deals with Andy's fictional confession, in which he reflects on his existence and a life he always experienced as less than real. With music by electronic producer and soul singer Waterson, who is riding high on the airwaves with his single 'When You Tell Me That You Love Me'.
Billie: "Colin and I wanted to create a track that's based mostly on drums and noise. Colin had created a lovely track with different keyboard parts. I kept telling him to remove it all and just keep the 'weird bits' and do 'more of those'. What Colin then came back with surpassed all my expectations. I was immediately inspired to record my usual five takes, that I record of any vocal. I never rehearse songs or vocals after they've been written so this was the perfect vehicle to illustrate the process. Lyric sheet in hand, not knowing what I was going to do, we recorded the vocals.
I'll let Colin tell the rest of the story."
'The project started out life as a traditionally structured song, with chords, on a piano, comprising verse, bridge, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus, coda. From this point, I deconstructed the piece until there were no 'pretty bits' left (as per the brief from Billie), and had the basis for Take One. That initial song is part rhythm, part sound design, part field recording and part music. Everything fills a space to create the whole but no one thing overpowers the other.
I then set about altering each take by starting with 'faders down' every time. It was a great way to create different versions because everything seemed fresh and gave a new sonic identity (with familiar components) to each new mix. I evolved the initial process from the first take where Billie had kept suggesting I drop more and more elements, and kept finding myself with ever more interesting versions.
I also started to hear a thread throughout all five takes, as if the versions were supporting the story of the song in an overall story - like a concept. I love the sadness and bareness of the last take, where it sounds almost 'like a vigil' (Billie heard it too), and the way it ends hopeful and transcendent. I followed the original brief in terms of 'taking things out' and also followed my internal guide in a stream of consciousness approach.
Some of the sounds are actually field recordings from the streets of New York (the spirit of Warhol can still very much be felt in Manhattan) and it's not every day one would able to use all five, unrehearsed takes of a singer, but with Billie Ray I was - and then some. I feel the arrangements of each version match and mirror the characteristic of the accompanying vocal, as if talking to one another.'
Billie: "As far as the five films go Joern Hartmann, too, surpassed all my wildest expectations of what could be achieved. Of course my brief was to do something inspired by Screen Tests, hence I had arranged a shoot with the Art'otel Berlin, a hotel dedicated to Warhol and featuring over 220 of his artworks. To my surprise Joern took it a few notches further. He researched what old film material looked like when exposed to light, left sitting on shelves too long etc. He then went to get the effects he needed and created his own variations on the given themes. During the shoot itself, it was comforting to be able to relax into my performance, knowing that Joern's lighting would always be perfect. Carl Stanley's make up just flowed without even a discussion and Felipe Rojas Llanos' clothes were just as perfect as I had expected. Not to mention the laughs we had in the suite upstairs consisting entirely of Warhol imagery when I nerded out and we made up silly lyrics to 'Chelsea Girls' with me giving renditions in my best Nico voice. "
Five Takes (A Song About Andy)
On Borrowed Time (take 1)
On Borrowed Time (take 2)
On Borrowed Time (take 3)
On Borrowed Time (take 4)
On Borrowed Time (take 5)
Written by Billie Ray Martin and Waterson
Music produced and mixed by Waterson
Movies directed by Joern Hartmann
Executive producer: Billie Ray Martin