Oxbow fans have much to rejoice over at this year’s festival; in addition to their extremely special Oxbow Orchestra set and frontman Eugene S. Robinson’s appearance in our ‘You Can Be You’ panel discussion, Supersonic will also be screening ‘The Luxury Of Empire’, an enthralling and stylish glimpse at life on the road for one of the most polarising and unrestrained avant-rock bands to walk the Earth. A gripping, warts-and-all portrait of a band maturing whilst having to deal with the trials and tribulations of the touring process, the film features candid interviews and live footage, all wrapped up in a deliciously dark and cinematic aesthetic, informed by Oxbow’s music itself as much as it is by film making convention. The themes of coming-of-age and the difficulties of touring are sure to fascinate anyone with even the remotest interest in live music, but for Oxbow enthusiasts especially, this is mandatory viewing.
‘The Luxury of Empire’ is the work of French film-maker Mariexxme, a former animator who has also filmed the Melvins, Sleep, the Jesus Lizard, Lightning Bolt and Jello Biafra, to name but a few. We asked Marie a few questions about the film, and why it should be an essential part of your Supersonic experience…
Supersonic: What was it about Oxbow that inspired you to make them the focal point of your film?
Marie: It was the 20th anniversary of Oxbow the year I decided to make that film focused on them. A year before that I had interviewed them for a French magazine with a friend of mine and edited a 40 minute video based on the history of the band, which we cut in 4 parts and posted online. That video made me want to go further, 40 minutes of something more! It made me really want to enter their life and make them talk about themselves and their approach to art. That’s why I focused the film more on their way of seeing art and their work.
Also, I’d heard that they were looking for somebody to make a film about ‘The Narcotic Story’, which for me is one of the most brilliant albums of the last few years and one of the reasons I wanted everybody to know about Oxbow! I couldn’t work on a film like that by myself but that’s the reason why my documentary has been filmed in the dark, I wanted it to look like a movie, I wanted it to look like ‘The Narcotic Story’.
‘The Luxury of Empire’ was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Would you recommend this way of funding to other aspiring artists?
I’d never heard about Kickstarter before ‘The Luxury of Empire’, I think it was Niko Wenner who told me about it. At first I thought it was crazy and would never work, but it’s been a nice surprise! Since then I’ve seen lots of other projects reaching their goals, I myself pledged on 2 different projects involving my friend David Yow (The Jesus Lizard), I must admit it works perfectly well. Yes I would definitely recommend it to others, and maybe even use this way myself next time if needed.
Why should Supersonic attendees check out ‘The Luxury of Empire’?
Why? Because I think people coming to a festival like Supersonic are passionate and curious people. Because this film is about one of the most brilliant bands existing and one of the most unrecognized (this film was made for Oxbow’s fans but also, and this is really important to me, for others to discover). Because this film is about Oxbow but more than a film about one band, it’s a film talking about what makes an artist live. Something I got myself inside like anybody involved in any kind of Art, something you could never live without, something that makes you play or paint, write or sing everyday and until the end of your life – whatever happened, even if you know you ‘ll never get rich by this, even if it means doing the same things everyday and living hard times most of the time.
‘The Luxury of Empire’ shows the inside, what the audience and fans never see, the reality of being an artist, the reality of being on tour, it also includes uncut live performances because it’s important to see the result of the process. It has been made to go with a whole live show filmed in Paris at the same time, my idea was to make a film to explain the inside and one to show the result without talking anymore, like Darkness and Light. It has been planed like that and it’s on the DVD like that with Manuel Libeskind’s tour diary about Oxbow ‘Still Before’ as a wonderful bonus.
Who else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival this year?
Zeni Geva, I haven’t seen them for years, Ufommammut (they are friends of mine), and then Grey Hairs, Dope Body, Bohren und der Club of Gore, Jarboe, Goat, Body /Head, Mothertrucker. But I will have to film Oxbow’s Orchestra experience and rehearsal during the week too, I’m waiting to see the schedules to organize my weekend at the festival.
You’ve filmed a great number of awesome bands, but are there any left that you would like to work with?
I’ve started working with Amenra and I’m really happy about this, they’re one of the bands I really wanted to make a film about. I would have loved working with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, I talked about it but unfortunately they don’t exist anymore. Melvins are second, I really want to work with them. All those bands have their own unique world and that’s what I’m looking for.
I would have loved making a film about Alice Donut but it’s already been done. I must admit I’ve filmed a lot of bands, and since I’ve started working on small video interviews for the Canadian/French website Pelecanus, I’ve been making a short film about a band every month! I just finished one about Converge and will start one for Wovenhand. I had to film Baroness in July but had technical troubles with my camera, so I definitely have to do something with them again soon! I also did Sleep, I must say I’m overjoyed!
If you were curating Supersonic, which three artists would you most want to have on board?
Maybe Amenra, Oxbow and the Melvins, but I could easily find 10 bands I’d most want…..
Which items would you say are essential for festival survival?
For me : a camera, a pair of confortable shoes and a pint. That’s it!