Two years since his debut ‘Great Western Laymen’ Rudi Zygadlo returns this summer with his new LP ‘Tragicomedies’, and the difference two years has made is remarkable. His return brings with it a refreshing new direction, and his new single Melpomene is given a beautiful visual realisation with the help of photographer and director Nick Ray Rutter. Though a piano ballad first and foremost - weaving a story of tortured love and loneliness - it’s scattered with those little signature elements that have come to define Rudi’s work. A momentary warping of the voice, or a fading out of the acoustic elements into electronic keys, evokes that fragility that lies at the heart of the tightly composed style of ‘Tragicomedies’, and of the dramatic rise and fall of the accompanying narrative of Rutter’s work.
Dazed Digital: The last time we spoke, you made an interesting point about your lyrics - that you’re not interested in what you’re saying, only the effect of the voice in the music. The new album has quite a heavy emphasis on singing however. Have you made a conscious transition from that previous idea in terms of lyrical content and the human voice?
Rudi Zygadlo: I think me saying 'not interested' was severe, but probably right. Yeah, vocals were an aesthetic pursuit rather than a poetic one. When syllable count and tone takes precedence over accurate emotional conveyance you know you’re no lyricist. Back then, for the most part, I wanted vocals to adorn the music like any other instrument might. They were low in the mix, they were non-essential a lot of the time - rude and safely disguised. But three years ago my heart was intact and what I wanted to get off my chest was an entirely musical idea. This time I'm exhibiting emotional hardship… I suppose it’s the greatest indulgence to sing audibly about love on a record and intend on it being listened to more than once.
DD: The new album is much more orchestral and ‘composed’ than your previous album. It feels like a total departure from any dubstep associations you had in the past.
Rudi Zygadlo: It’s funny to think that dubstep was my foray into song writing but it’s true. I was excited by the possibilities of the genre three years ago. That’s where the impetus came from to write the first album, and I’m really thankful for it. But I’m pretty apathetic now and completely out of the loop. In the interim between albums I moved to Berlin. My circumstances changed and so did the stimuli. As for the orchestral elements, I have been lapping up the romantics recently, so that’s really influenced me on the LP. There’s certainly more instruments too. I think the album is a lot more adventurous, musically, in every way.
DD: How did you and Nick Rutter meet and collaborate on the video?
Rudi Zygadlo: We met through the Pictures Music impresario, Alex Clapworthy; I met Nick at the premier of his short The World Turns last summer. I was bowled over by the film and told him so. Subsequently, he got wind of some of my stuff and he proposed we collaborate. I was thrilled. We decided Melpomene was begging to be visualised so Nick took the project on. I’m very lucky to have had someone create an image and identity for a song that may not have otherwise caught people’s imagination. He’s done a really smashing job.
DD: What was the initial concept for the video and its narrative?
Nick Ray Rutter: The concept was clear from the start. We took the songs title ‘Melpomene’ from the muse of tragedy in Greek mythology. She is often depicted in plays with daggers, and always dies in the end. Leading on from this, I wanted to make a story that was modern and quite the opposite of the drama of a Greek tragedy. I wanted her to escape the mellow drama of it and make a story that was suggestive and atmospheric in its language. I like the beauty of tragedy and how it draws us in. How it is about letting our desires take over and embracing our innately self-destructive nature. The human car crash. Essentially, I think it’s a really simple idea about excitement and danger.
DD: The aesthetic of the video is remarkably tactile. What were you trying to evoke with the piece as a whole, both visually and aurally?
Nick Ray Rutter: The images came organically working with a friend and excellent Ben Fordesman. We spent two days driving around Norfolk with a loose schedule. Shooting on Fuji S16mm was not just an aesthetic choice, but also a choice to discipline the creativity and focus on what we shot. Every scene we shot ends up in the film. I think we were really trying to evoke people into feeling rather than rationalising. No particular feeling, just, any kind of feeling. I also wanted to make people watch the whole film and listen to the track all the way to the end, which I think is a pretty hard thing to do these days.
‘Melpomene’ is out July 2nd 2012 on Planet Mu. ‘Tragicomedies’ LP is out in October on Planet Mu