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Photograph by Carla Brookoff

Sian Alice Group Stays Close to the Ground

The UK collective have just released their second eerily beautiful album Troubled, Shaken, Etc and we take a look at the first video to come off it.

Sian Alice Group have just released their second album on esteemed NYC indie Social Registry (home to Gang Gang Dance), the brooding, majestic "Troubled, Shaken, etc" – and this is their suitably epic video for one of the album highlights "Close to the Ground", shot in the British wastelands of Dungeness, and directed by the band's guitarist Ben Crook.

Dazed Digital: You've just put out your second marvellous album with Social Registry. How does it feel at the moment in SAGworld? Good times?
Ben Crook: Very good, thank you. People are really feeling the new record. There's a buzz in the UK that we didn't have on the last album.

DD: What's going on in this video, and where did you film it? Is this from the all-singing, all-dancing Sian Alice Group camping holiday?
Ben Crook: There are many themes from the song represented… we wanted to shoot it originally in the Badlands or in the Blue Ridge mountains earlier in the year, when we were touring with Vetiver, but we ran out of time, so we shot it in Dungeness because it's so weird and flat and windy, it doesn't really feel English there. I'm heavily influenced by David Lynch, Bela Tarr and Terence Malick… I think they'd like Dungeness.

DD: Why did you choose to direct your own video?
Ben Crook: I used to direct music videos, I still edit them (mostly for Douglas Hart). We had absolutely no time or money to make this, and we knew what themes and references we wanted to see. The easiest solution was for me to make it. It's very liberating to direct videos for your own band after making promos for the mainstream pop video world. We've got some great people shooting our next videos, and not only music video directors… I can't say who right now but a couple of world-renowned artists have agreed to make films, plus one of our favourite British photographers is on board too.

DD: That's the most convincing CGI rabbit that I've seen in a music video for a while. Presumably the rabbit has deep mystical significance?
Ben Crook: It's a CGI hare actually – the longer rear legs are the giveaway. I like rabbits and hares, and I'm glad he didn't get run over. He was running around in front of me for several minutes, going back and forth across a busy road. I think he adds both suspense and a final release of a happy ending to the film. Plus its probably a tiny Lewis Carroll reference… its hard not to have one when you have the word Alice in the name of your band. 'Further down the rabbit hole' and all that...

DD: What's on the CD being used as a reflector?
Ben Crook: "Space Probe" by Sun Ra. It's a great record, only three songs from the early 70s. The first one is Sunny making sounds on a Moog for 16 minutes. Very experimental, even for Sun Ra. It's up there with The Antique Blacks, Disco 3000 and the Solar Myth Approach as my current favourites. That shot is a reference to the Derek Jarman film, Art Of Mirrors… we needed one considering that we shot the video within yards of his old home.

DD: What have you just remembered in that last scene of the film, when you turn and stride purposefully off screen? Had you left the gas on?
Ben Crook: It was actually pitch black after sundown when we shot that, and I was freezing cold. I was trying to keep warm…

DD: Where next for SAG? What are you looking forward to over the next 12 months?
Ben Crook: We're about to play some UK shows with Gang Gang Dance, then we tour the UK. We're playing Offset Festival too, which looks like fun. We have got our first full US headline tour in September and October. Then back for more UK and Europe shows… we'll probably start recording again soon after that. Just keeping busy, that's all we want.

DD: Tell me three things you learned on tour with A Place To Bury Strangers.
Ben Crook: 1. They'll always be louder than you. 2. They'll drink more whisky than you. J will anyway. 3. Sian will drink more whisky than everyone in APTBS and SAG put together.

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