When I attended my first rave at the age of thirteen there had already been a slew of acts like Altern-8 and The Prodigy who had hit it big and topped the charts, but there were also a huge catalogue of tracks that earned legendary status within the warehouses alone. NRG’s “I Need Your Lovin” was one such tune that was impossible to miss back in the day. It was one of those records that beamed good vibes from a time long forgotten by way of the sampler. The track, or rather its source material, would see further reiterations from Baby-D in 1995 and later covered by Beck for the soundtrack of Michel’s Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” in 2004.
At no point did I ever discover the origins of this song until, by chance, my friend Matt Owens invited James Warren and the Korgis to perform at his Livewired events in Bath for which I was the principle videographer. Meeting James was a very special moment. Not only did I get to record the song performed live by the original artist but I also got the opportunity to interview the man behind the music himself. James, a very humble guy, shared with us his feelings on the track, noting in particular that he felt it had a “life of its own”.
Working with James in the studio Matt recorded a new stripped back version of “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime” to celebrate its 40th anniversary and I was thrilled to be offered the chance to direct a video for the song. Given what a famous song it is to me and so many others, I was initially bursting with ideas of practical effects as a nod to Gondry. However the budget simply did not allow for such scope, so I needed to rein it in and rethink.
In instances such as these it is always better to do simple well than to try to pull off something extravagant only for it to come off as ‘hackey’. Minimalism and the ability to make a lot out of a little were methods that were drilled into us throughout university and an approach that could be perfectly applied to this project. With the plush location of the Tivoli Cinema in Bath secured, the concept was to be a homage to Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine”, a film I love, even paying a visit to the set at 3 Mills Studio in East London during filming. To achieve the effect I projected 4K NASA imagery of the sun onto a cinema screen with James performing to it, essentially serenading the sun itself. Using gold light filters with a stark contrast I was able to present James as an elder statesman of the music industry without placing too much focus on him directly, but rather keeping the spotlight focused on the theme of the song. With sun-flares and light-leaks added in post to give it the kiss of life, everything fell into place.
This was one of those projects that all slots into place all of its own volition. As with Italian cooking – if you have the right ingredients and handle them with respect then magic does itself.