In the Keysound artist's stunning ‘Light Years’, a woman finds herself in the cosmos of London
The universe has been crying out for new material from colourful producer E.m.m.a., whose debut album Blue Gardens was one of last year’s best, and so hearing her latest tune “Light Years” on Keysound’s recent Certified Connections compilation was like catching a glimpse of a shooting star. There’s no one else around who can craft a landscape quite like E.m.m.a., and with the buzz of neon signs in the foreground and glimmer of slow-burning galaxies in the distance, director Sophie Davies has perfectly captured her ambitious scope in this sweet short film. The clip follows the lead character on her journey from her bedroom to the streets of London, to ultimately become one with the cosmos, and captures that same urban, bedroom-bound longing for space and freedom that you can hear in the orbiting synth patterns of “Light Years.” When you're done watching it below, read what Davies and E.m.m.a. had to say about taking their inspiration from London at nighttime – foxes included.
Tell me about the narrative of this film, and how you feel it relates to the track. I love how the girl's world just constantly expands throughout.
Sophie Davies: When I first heard “Light Years,” I knew it was E.m.m.a.’s most epic track to date. My mind was filled with stars and galaxies but at the same time it felt very urban to me, recalling images of a city at night, with its coloured neon lights and distant shimmering skyline you can’t reach. It reminded me how easy it is to become disconnected from nature and space, especially as the nights draw in and we cocoon ourselves with Saturday night TV.
“Light Years” (the track and the film) for me is about going against the relentless onslaught of modern life and mainstream media. Each day we are told what we should be enjoying, how we should be living and all the things we should possess if we’re going to be happy - as well as how we should look. It’s about getting back to what really matters. It’s a search for perspective. It was also important to me that the lead character of Stella (played by Ria Zmitrowicz) was a three-dimensional human-being. It’s rare that we see a woman on screen nowadays who isn’t portrayed through the prism of being a wife, mother, daughter, girlfriend or ornament. Stella is her own person and has questions about the world and her place in it.
E.m.m.a.: I think the track is pretty restless from the outset, and the film's narrative is an important way of conveying that. Me grappling with the cosmos theme emits a mood of being aware of a lot of things, but at the same time not quite sure about any of them.
“It’s showing what freedom would look like if (women) didn’t have fear” – Sophie Davies, director
With the woman in the cowboy hat who's locked out of the station, the looks from strangers – these things all made me think about how free a woman is move around in the world. What did you want to convey about a woman's place in/relationship to the universe?
Sophie Davies: When writing, I was thinking more broadly about the experience of getting around London at night: what a walk down the street can throw up when you’re just trying to go about your business. We all know what it’s like missing the last train or waiting for a night bus. It was when we were filming in the middle of Greenwich park and the light was fading fast I thought “Hang on, would a woman (or anyone, but in our case, a woman) be free or safe enough to come and stargaze here?” It’s showing what freedom would look like if we didn’t have fear.
E.m.m.a.: I feel like we as city-dwellers (women and men) can't really traverse the city with complete freedom for one reason or another, whether it's cos you've got no money on your Oyster, or are being relentlessly told via advertising not to get in a minicab. I like the freedom the girl has in the film, and being on foot is a part of this. The universe element is important to me for perspective as thinking about life in that context removes the limitations society puts on people. Also I feel like the fox is super relevant ‘cause it's almost like the girl and the fox possess the same freedom.