Apparently It’s Harder to Drown Than You Would Think: Videos of Marta Pacek
I knew Australia was somewhat of an untapped source of music, but I had no idea how fertile the ground. I have been dabbling in the folk scene there for a couple of years, following Bill Jackson, Ruth Hazleton and Pete Fidler closely, but this summer the dam broke. Seemingly overnight, Aussie musicians came center stage and artists lined up like hobos in a depression era bread line. Names emerged— Courtney Barnett, Liz Stringer, Anna Cordell, Susannah Espie, Shannon Bourne— too many to delve into all at once. While sorting through a number of artists I recently came upon Marta Pacek, a musician who has until recently has been content to limit herself to the UK circuit but is now ready to add the United States to her itinerary. She is currently finishing up a Canadian run and will the kick off her American tour in Boston at at The Middle East Corner Room on on September 23rd. Included among the stops will be a show in Nashville at the Basement on October 6th (if you want a tour schedule, you can click here).
To say I am impressed with Marta’s music would be understatement, but rather than writing about her, I thought it would be to your advantage to actually hear what she believes to be some of her best songs (and some of my favorites, as it turns out). I asked her to pick five videos and write a sentence or two about each, knowing I would post a bonus video as a capper. So without further adieu, here is Marta Pacek—comments first and videos after:
“Cafe Sunshine” was the second ever music video I produced, my favourite song from the record which I co-wrote with front man Mark Seymour of The Hunters and Collectors. Excited as I was to be producing my own video, it was just a lot of fun to dress all my friends up and go on a old fashioned steam train ride through the lush rain forest of the Dandenong Mountains in Melbourne.
“Milk and Honey” is one of my favourite little video’s to watch. It was never intended to be a formal music video, rather it was one of those situations wherein my band and I were having a summer rehearsal and a director friend, Devaashish Khanna, picked up my brand new Panasonic HD video camera and began shooting. I like it because it’s not perfect. We were all just rehearsing a new song and finding our way. At one point a loud plane flew overhead and there was a sweetness to it. I also like my little giggle at the very end.
“Annie”— This video was such fun to shoot partially because we shot it without a permit at the famous Chelsea Hotel in NYC. Our small crew consisted of four people. We had initially booked one of the cheaper rooms at the hotel and I arrived first to check in at the hotel. The concierge noticed the guitar on my back and asked me to play a song for them in the foyer. Afterwards they upgraded me to the penthouse suite free of charge. When the director Devaashish Khanna arrived later he was thrilled but when our DOP arrived with all the camera gear, Devaashish had to do some smooth explaining that we were just storing the equipment for a shoot uptown the following morning. I can remember shooting all through the night and ordering pizza. We were all so scared when we heard a knock at the door because we thought we were busted. The song is about NYC women on the dating scene.
“Thar She Blows” is a beautiful song. The video was shot in Toronto, directed by Miz Monday and produced by Josh Haggarty. It features my good friend Adam Delgarno as the love interest in a Romeo and Juliet style love story. The scene where I drown myself had to be done twice as I shrieked the first time. Apparently it’s harder to drown than you would think.
“Sometimes You Lose” is my most abstract music video. I love the simplicity of it. There is no narrative story line. I guess it was an exercise in embodying emotion through movement. In this case, the emotions are lust, pain and yearning. The protagonist in this video is regretful about things that transpired and although the relationship may be over, she still lusts and yearns for her lover.
Insight is a good thing, especially when it comes to art, and I should have asked her about her reasons for covering Gillian Welch’s “Look at Miss Ohio,” but maybe I am afraid too much knowledge would destroy the myth. I had heard this song numerous times before I even realized it was Welch and it stopped me cold each time, the song developing into a classic on its own. When I heard Pacek’s version, I tossed aside my aversion to cover songs and embraced it for what it is— an excellent version of an excellent song.