Acclaimed short story writer Stuart Evers teams up with indie band Daughter
London-based indie folk band Daughter released their excellent second album, Not to Disappear, last week.
Following 2013’s debut Not to Leave, their latest effort has already been rapturously received by critics, with Guardian calling it ‘unflinching and unexpected’ (4 stars) and DIY praising its ‘groundbreaking beauty’.
As fans of the band we were delighted to hear that they had commissioned Picador author Stuart Evers to write the stories on which their Not to Disappear music videos would be based.
The first of these videos, for Doing the Right Thing, is centred on Stuart’s story Dress. Released in September last year, the video has racked up well over 900,000 views on YouTube alone.
A second collaboration emerged in November 2015, with the band this time using his story Window as the inspiration for the video for Numbers.
A third video, based on Stuart’s story 5,040, is coming soon. We can’t wait to see it.
We spoke to Stuart about how the collboration came about.
In the late nineties I was a bookseller at the Waterstones on London’s Charing Cross Road in London, a job which paid poorly but made up for it with free books, invitations to publisher parties and co-workers who generally were involved in other, non-bookshop related activities. One of these was Iain Forsyth, who worked in the poorly lit basement, home to the art department. His partner Jane worked at the Borders store opposite, and the two of them were already making a name for themselves as artists. I left the shop in 2000 but we stayed in vague and infrequent contact – they even made a cameo appearance in the story ‘Real Work’ in my first collection, Ten Stories about Smoking – until June of last year when they invited me to their studio to discuss collaborating on a forthcoming project.
We drank beer and listened to some of Daughter’s first record, talked about the ideas they’d bounced around with the band. I hadn’t heard their music before, but I felt an immediate affinity with its driving melancholy, its noirish menace, the expressiveness of Elena’s voice conveying rage, hurt and humour. Iain and Jane relayed the ideas for the three stories that Elena and Igor had given them, but reassured me that I could do what I wanted with them. The only stipulation was that they needed to be linked in some way, and one should be able to watch them in any order and still see that link. Though I had some of the songs from the new record to listen to, I wouldn’t know which ones would have videos attached to them, though Doing the Right Thing was almost certain to be one of them. And I had under a month to write them.
The strictures and restrictions of writing something that had to exist both as story and as a template for a different media weighed heavy. I went back to Beckett – a good place to start – and read many of his shorter pieces, ones that had no dialogue, and emphasis on movement and atmosphere. Iain and Jane sent over images the band liked, from 60s Italian movies, photographs of faded Americana, dilapidated high rises. I started writing DRESS one evening and by the time I had finished, I knew the dress would be the central image, the recurring leit-motif of the films. I sent it Iain and Jane and set to work on the next one. Their only comment was ‘make it as weird as you like.’ There was no time for editing or honing. They came out, all three, raw, and in a fury.
The filming took place over a weekend, and I wasn’t there to see it. This is probably a good thing; writers don’t belong on set. A week or so later and Iain and Jane sent me the rough cut of the films. It was odd, particularly with WINDOW, to see something I’d imagined come so fervidly to life. They are better than I could have ever hoped.
Stuart Evers’s latest collection of short stories, Your Father Sends His Love, is out now.