The Beckoning Featuring Chloe Sevigny

I'm kind of obssesed with noir films 

In Conversation with Maryam L’Ange and Eaux’s Sian Ahern

It’s been almost a decade since director Maryam L’Ange and Eaux vocalist Sian Ahern met, so when we sit down with them, it’s clear they speak the same language creatively. They’re practically finishing each other’s sentences. The Beckoning, a short noir-inspired film directed and conceived by L’Ange, with musical input from Ahern and bandmates Ben Crook and Stephen Warrington, is their second collaboration. They joke about “coming full circle,” a nod to their 2013 partnership when L’Ange lensed the video for Eaux’s “Hold On.” We listen in as L’Ange and Ahern chat about the music of The Beckoning, creating a sinister moment, and what it was like to work together again. 

Maryam L’Ange: We first had the idea to score the film’s intro with original material, so we sat down together to share references and ideas. What was your reaction to all of that?

Sian Ahern: We had to push ourselves to get inside your head, and to really align ourselves with your vision, as opposed to our own. The beginning is a key moment in the film’s narrative, so the introductive score had to be very evocative, dark and tense. You showed us the references and… you had a kind of droney track that you really liked, didn’t you?

Yeah, I had a lot of droney tracks and instrumentals. A lot of music and sounds that spoke to me. I had some film references too… lots of David Lynch – Mullholland Drive, Lost Highway, that kind of thing.

What we do as a band anyway is always fairly droney and layered, but it was helpful to hear the kind of sounds that you wanted for the introduction and the initial build up.

In the final video, there’s very little dialogue. So much of the film’s atmosphere and intensity depends on the music… how do you create a sinister or ominous moment with music?

The process for us really was just trying to create a picture through sound. That kind of ominous tone felt very natural to us, we love using these spooky, dark synths. They’re our favorite to work with.

Your musical input both at the beginning and end of the film serves the story so perfectly, complement the narrative, and the audio that I had already worked on with my sound designer. You recorded your voice, right?

Yeah, that’s essentially my instrument. The boys can score more easily; they’ve got synths and guitar and stuff. All I can do is sing and boss them around [laughs]!

What kinds of sounds give you chills or goosebumps?

High pitched strings. There’s so much tension evoked in those sounds. Also, bassy, gravelly synths. Anything really that is kind of a physical sound or a sound that shocks.

Your own music has an experimental side to it, but it is often quite fragile and dreamy as well, like the film. How did you stay true to your sound while also capturing the mood of the video?

That was easy. My vocals are quite soft and feminine and high-pitched, ethereal ‒ I love when people call them ethereal! But we also have abstract, darker instrumentation, and that really reflects the video. It’s all part of the same family, really.

We got really lucky here because we got to use an actual song of yours, “Excession,” which is an unreleased track that I think is amazing.

We wrote it ages ago and then recorded it with the album, but it didn’t seem to fit in with it amongst the other tracks. I’m such a fan of the song though, so it was a wonderful thing that you wanted to use it.

What was your inspiration in writing the song? What is it about?

“All in time will be gone,” you know, one of those really casual themes [laughs]. All in time will be gone. The cycle of life and death. We’re happy that it had the right vibe, it just falls neatly into place in the film.

And that works perfectly with the film, I think! So, your new album, Plastics — which I love — is set to release soon. What can we expect?

Yes, it’s already released in the UK but it’s coming out in Canada and the US very soon! We really took a leap with this one and it feels good to finally let go of it. We’re happy that we didn’t have to sacrifice our taste to make something that feels this free. It was very much born out of messing around in the studio and rehearsals, the same way we worked on the intro for The Beckoning. We’re pleased to just have a chance to tell this story.

Stylist's Picks from Emilie Kareh

After studying lighting, set, and costume design in her scenography course at London's Central Saint Martins, Emilie Kareh discovered fashion when she returned to her native Paris to work with Ludivine Poiblanc, Julia von Boehm, and Carine Roitfeld at French Vogue. She's now based in New York and Los Angeles and contributes regularly to Pop, Arena Homme +, Purple, Double, and Vogue Ukraine.

How do you approach styling?

I really want to tell a story — that's how I work. Like with scenography, everything relates. There's a very strong mood and a strong narrative. You have to think about it. Everything is important.

How did you approach styling Chloë Sevigny in The Beckoning?

The director, Maryam L'Ange's vision was so cinematic, and we totally understood each other. The mood of the styling reflected that vision: romantic, beautiful, and feminine.

What's your all-time favourite music video?

I love Pink Floyd's full-length movie The Wall. It's the "cherry on top" of it all. The music is so powerful accompanied by those incredible images. I still watch it often. But I love all of Michael Jackson's music videos, too!

What inspired the pieces you selected from our site?

Los Angeles was my main inspiration. As a city it is really bizarre. There are a lot of freaks and it's so inspiring. I like to go to Beverly Hills and watch all the weird people. There's something really interesting about this city.