Seamus Murphy/Courtesy of the artist
PJ Harvey. Seamus Murphy/Courtesy of the artist
Let England Shake, the new record from PJ Harvey, will be out on Feb. 15. Her eighth studio album, it was recorded in a 19th-century church with longtime collaborators John Parish, Mick Harvey and producer Flood.
PJ Harvey's video for "The Words That Maketh Murder," from her forthcoming album Let England Shake:
Each song on Let England Shake has an accompanying film. Seamus Murphy directed this film, "The Words That Maketh Murder." We asked him to describe the making of the film and the imagery he chose.
The film for "The Words That Maketh Murder" is one of a series of 12 shorts to accompany the 12 songs that make up PJ Harvey's forthcoming album, Let England Shake. The album is a dense world of Polly's vision, but what interested me most was exploring the eccentricity and enigma of England. The present exists in a complicated relationship with the past and England's island status, and her relationship to her land, geography and tradition is fundamental to the country's psyche. Contemporary England springs from colonial adventures, military ambitions and industrial prowess. It is also shaded by fading power and its military role in modern geopolitics. To open myself up to a country I live in but rarely shoot, I took a road journey around England. I approached it as I would a foreign country, traveling wide-eyed with minimal equipment — light and alone. I documented life first-hand in classical reportage style, using available light and real-life situations, this time with sound and pictures. I normally have the still silent image as my universe. I photographed, directed and produced the films myself, and worked with editor Sebastian Gollek in Berlin to complete the project. The ballroom scene from Blackpool is one of my favorites; it has what I hope for in any project, to find the extraordinary in the ordinary and to be ambiguous enough to allow personal interpretation. I am not trying to deliver a message. Just showing what I saw, how I saw it and, sometimes, how I would like it to be.