Much is made of the professional collaborations between musicians and each other, or even musicians and producers. One of the most extraordinary creative partnerships is exhibited in the music videos of Toronto based artist Maker Starling and filmmaker Alvaro Giron who directed two of Starling’s most unique and entertaining videos to date, “Author” and “No More Party Lights.” For every music aficionado who claims to investigate music and music videos that challenge the template which the industry dictates, “Author” and “No More Party Lights” are perhaps the apex of what is achievable. While most of the music videos created these days are communal imitation, the videos created by Giron and Starling proclaim loudly that visionary artists of the visual medium can in fact materialize productions which possess a unique identity in their very DNA.
Marker Starling has more in common with music acts like Radiohead and Frank Zappa than one might initially think, not in terms of a common sound but in striving for a sound that comes from a place truly personal. Starlings music is fragile and cerebral. After meeting Starling after one of his concerts, Giron proposed the idea of presenting these qualities in a video for “Author.” The director communicates, “I took it to heart to have him be an elusive presence in his own world, anchored in his presence and performance but unmoored or detached from the whirlwind of images that would surround him.” Editor Diana Cadavid was brought aboard to provide some creative approaches; the culmination of which was an otherworldly mood that sets Marker Starling in a truly lost and uncomfortable world. Alvaro notes that this approach was serendipitous stating, “This video opened a new phase for Chris’s reach to wider audiences, after a legal dispute that forced him to change his artist name from Mantler to Marker Starling. He chose the song specifically for me to develop the concept and I felt we delivered the piece we knew we wanted to create.”
Alvaro and Marker Starling would reunite again to create the video for “No more party lights.” Antithetical in its setting, “No more party lights” placed the artist in a house party setting but one in which he is an observer rather than one of the seekers of revelry. In this approach, the signature language of the artist is retained in the visual language of this music video even though the director stipulates, “I noticed how Chris’s sound was expanding in new directions, retaining of course the penchant for acute observations on adult relationships and unique sense of melody. In this video, we were going for that elusive feeling of exaltation that can be found on a good night surrounded by the right people, even if they’re total strangers, but those fleeting moments transcend you, they can leave a mark in you beyond mere exhaustion. We opted to shoot documentary-style, with broad directions as to what the guests would be doing within an actual house party, and more nuanced observations for Chris and the camera’s presence.” “No more party lights” received international praise and premiered on the UK magazine Clash.
It’s well known throughout the industry that films almost always come with “notes” from the studio while music videos such as those which Alvaro Giron and Marker Starling have created allow for near unbridled creativity. The end result is artists who magnify each other’s talent and exploration. Alvaro confirms, “Besides writing and directing films, I have worked in different music and sound projects throughout the years. Marker Starling’s sensibility is one that I admire profoundly because of its originality, which allows room for contrasting elements to generate a unique force and reach for every piece. The tension between fragility and strength can be fruitful and the kind of proximity we establish with both song and performer rings true after we find the right tone to convey it. Videos don’t have to stick to narrative logic if they have the freedom to join the music in their own terms. The ‘negotiation’ of the themes that can be explored in a video is always thrilling, as it opens space for the piece to generate its own tone, rhythm, its way of leaving a mark, even if temporary.”
Writer: Coleman Haan