watch steven julien's stunning nts-produced visuals for fallen
Take an exclusive look at the new visual LP from NTS resident Steven Julien (FKA FunkinEven) as we discuss the importance of the station and the state of London nightlife with the man himself.
Steven Julien's debut album soundtracks a descent from paradise, and as sinister chords open the start of the film, the fallen soul seems in uneasy territory. With artists from Flying Lotus to FKA Twigs (Beyonce to Frank Ocean) increasingly pairing visuals to entire LP's, listeners are given a new way to consume albums and Julien's six track short gives us an insight into how he conceptualised his tracks to look. Drawing up along the sea, a figure is sat alone looking contemplative and the light and airy tones of Fallen's first half are absent as the darker tracks accompany Julien from idyllic coastline to neon lit club and back again.
Recording since 2009 under alias FunkinEven, the artist released Fallen earlier this year on his own Apron Records. Made with director Shane Connolly and the NTS family, the album is his unique take on disco, house and bass fed through his trademark blissful synth filter and has been hailed by many as one of the standout records of the year.
We spoke to Julien about the visuals, the state of London nightlife and 2016 as a year of transition…
The video was your own concept. Can you talk us through the ideas behind each section and how the visuals tie into the album as a whole?
It's basically the same concept as the album, of a rebellious angel cast down to hell on earth. So the first scene sees the angel land, like, "where the fuck am I? What have I done?" Then he ventures out to find badness, wakes up to realise his lifestyle is maybe too obstreperous for him, and looks up to God for forgiveness but gets no love.
The album is split into two parts, and you've mentioned it can be seen as a reflection of yourself - how do the two halves characterise you?
Everyone has two sides to them. If not then maybe there's something wrong with you. There's definitely something wrong if you're constantly smiling, like, there's a deep-rooted problem underneath that smile. All I'm trying to say is people have different emotions but are scared to show them so cover them up with their poker face. The album is split up in different emotions/chapters, good and bad, and whichever way you feel inside there's something in Fallen for you.
In the video you're passed out next to a Hendricks bottle - product placement or drink of choice?
I didn't really notice the bottle like that! I had a house party at my yard that we shot for the party scene in the video. It was a very messy party with loads of bottles left lying around on the floor including the Hendricks. Hendricks made the shot I guess!
Instead of sticking with FunkinEven or another alias you've released the album under your own name. How come?
I haven't really liked the name FunkinEven for a while now to be honest, so I'd rather just use my birth name from now on. But I understand most people can only see me as FunkinEven... whatever, it's the same person at the end of the day. I wanna keep it regular with no more funny aliases!
You've used mainly analogue instruments on the album and have done so throughout your career. At what point did you realise you preferred it?
From the very beginning, when I was like 13 years old, I'd mess around with synth keyboards from Argos and drum machines that my friends lent me. I would program the drums and try to play chords and baselines live while recording it to cassette tape, hoping for the best listen-back to the recordings, like, "yo! I know how to make a tune now!"
You've put out your album on your own label Apron - how has it been founding and running your own label?
Very hard but so much fun at the same time. I'm constantly juggling making music, DJing nearly every weekend and running the record label, so time is not my best friend. I have no team, so I pretty much do everything on my ones. I think Apron is at a good point right now with enough weight to hold an album and get it out there where it needs to be. It's so good to have no one telling you what to do, like, "you should have a singer on this track or feature such and such artist so it can boost record sales". That's bullshit. I feel free with Apron to do what I want to do, you know...
You made the video with NTS and you host a show on their station, how important are stations and projects like these to keep the music industry healthy?
I have a monthly show with NTS, and I've been NTS fam from pretty much the beginning. It's beautiful to see the station grow and the artists grow around it together. It's more than a radio station - it's a movement, a lifestyle, a family expressing our passion and what we want to put out there. It's blessed that NTS gave me the opportunity to get out what I saw in my head visually. Music and art should be only made with substance. It's the only way to keep things healthy and to have longevity.
Plastic People seems to have played an important part in your development as an artist - what are your thoughts on the current climate for nightclubs in London?
It's very bad what London is going through at the moment. 2016 is the year of transition, a lot of things are changing and I'm not sure it's for the good either. The only good thing about this is hopefully there will be a revolution, people will rebel and do illegal warehouse parties, street parties or opening new clubs. It has to go back to where it started; something good needs to happen with this shit.
Text Alice Lewis