An unrelenting torrent of needle-sharp beats and industrial sized vocals, Brooklyn-based duo Light Asylum – aka high priestess Shannon Funchess and electronic wizard Bruno Coviello – make earnest, shouty, party hard fuel for the fire. It’s urgent drum pad synth-pop with clout, dance music cut open to reveal a pulsating, 80s core of gothic persuasion. ‘Heart of Dust’ is taken from the pair’s eponymous debut album – released at the start of the month on Mexican Summer – and is visually accompanied by a striking, motif-heavy video which shows mud wrestling in a new, sinister light. Directed by David Riley and Grant Worth, the video was inspired by NIN’s storied performance at Woodstock ’94 – the one where they covered the audience head-to-toe in mud – and takes its cue from “oil spills, Pompeii and carnival celebrations,” according to Riley, whereas Worth favours “Grimms’ Fairy Tales and The Rapture.”
We still tortured everyone, yet they were all unbelievably amazing. People had potting soil coming out of their ears for a week. I think we even sent one person to the eye doctor to get some rocks removed from her cornea.
Alongside an exclusive premiere of the video for Dazed Digital, we caught up with Shannon, David and Grant to talk shop.
Dazed Digital: What were the main challenges you faced whilst making the video?
Shannon Funchess: Everyone... most definitely the band jumping, running and rolling around in this food processing vat/tank with god knows what decaying on the floor... Also there was a very narrow opening to the tank and it was really hot inside so shooting inside of it for six hours straight was a serious personal challenge for me... We went pretty far to make art happen and appeal to our audience and fans. Hope they like the results.
Grant Worth: The weather was a big concern for me... We filmed in early April and I was imagining tents and everyone wet and naked and huddled around space heaters. Luckily global warming saved us. We still tortured everyone, yet they were all unbelievably amazing. People had potting soil coming out of their ears for a week. I think we even sent one person to the eye doctor to get some rocks removed from her cornea.
David Riley: The main challenges were physical. The metal tank was hot and dusty, and we had to take regular breaks to let the camera cool, clean the dust off the equipment, and give our talent a chance to breathe. The outdoor scenes were like an endurance test: cover the cast in oil, slime, powder, hose off and repeat! So many bands would be worried about messing up their hair, or ruining their designer clothes, but Shannon and Bruno took one look at the mud pit and jumped right in.
DD: Shannon, what do you feel about other contemporary female electro artists playing to the self-aware, overtly feminine stereotype?
Shannon Funchess: I don't care to sell sex. That's so easy and anybody with a body, industry connections and no talent can do it. My thing is androgyny by birth and I appreciate the female as well as male artists who work with this aesthetic in a male dominated industry.
DD: Shannon, you had a strict Christian upbringing. What are your thoughts on organised religion?
Shannon Funchess: Two things I refrain from discussing with strangers are politics and religion. Everyone has their own opinions and beliefs. Whatever works for them is their prerogative. As long as they aren't hurting anything or anyone else that's their business.
DD: Shannon, How do you envision the end of the world?
Shannon Funchess: I don't. I envision the end of nonsense. Seeking truth until that happens.
Photo by Jeff Elstone