With the release of Bella Union debut LP Vanishing Lands less than a month away on 15th November, Dog In The Snow today share a video for the track “Roses”. The video is again directed by Jay Bartlett with whom Helen Ganya Brown, aka Dog In The Snow, collaborated on the videos for both “Dark” and “Dual Terror”. Of the video Bartlett says: “Keeping with the themes running through the triptych of music videos for Dog In The Snow we decided to shoot a one take video for Roses. Starting close and claustrophobic, the frame would open out slowly to reveal a harsh landscape that the artist is now a part of. Some sort of closure for the visuals. Shooting this was quite hellish. We were exposed to all the elements that day, but mainly wind and rain, and I think we only managed to a few takes before we were happy to wrap. Blue hands and numbness was the order of the day, however looking back over the footage, the weather totally aided the video’s look.” Of the track Helen Ganya Brown adds: “Roses is the first song I wrote with all the themes of Vanishing Lands in mind. ‘Some Survive, Thousands Die’ is a photograph by Alva White which spurred on the narrative of the song – a journey into an unknown land. It’s a song for those who take the risk every day in search of something better.”
UK Live info for Dog In The Snow listed below…
Friday 15th November – Brighton – Resident Records
Saturday 16th November – London – Rough Trade East
Sunday 17th November – Nottingham – Rough Trade
Tuesday 19th November – London – SET Dalston
Wednesday 20th November – Bristol – Rough Trade
Dog In The Snow’s album debut for Bella Union is Vanishing Lands, as imposing, haunting and luminous collection of songs in the darker spaces between dream-pop, art-rock and electronica, lifted by euphoric melodies, ravishing vocals and absorbing lyrics. The album was initially created at Brown’s home in Brighton before co-producer Rob Flynn helped her add shifting, impressionistic swathes of colour, from the ominous chords that open ‘Light’ to the vocal eddies that close ‘Dark’. Brown wrote 8 of the 10 songs in a 3-week spell after a period of “strange dreams”. She recalls: “Dreams in black and white. I found myself in a dreamland and discovered it was being destroyed. I chose Vanishing Lands as an album title because it sounded suitably desolate, and lent the songs a feeling of cohesion.”
The themes of the two oldest tracks suit the ‘ruined world’ scenario. ‘Icaria’ is named after a utopian society established in the 1840s by a French socialist which only survived for 50 years. ‘Gold’ refers to America’s gold rush bonanza of the same era, when people searched for a better life, but instead created and faced catastrophe.
Born to a Thai mother and Scottish father, Brown was raised in Singapore from the age of five to eighteen, when she returned to the UK, making her home in Brighton. Learning guitar and subsequently Garageband software to construct broader sounds and styles of songwriting, she absorbed influences such as Sufjan Stevens, Scott Walker, David Lynch, Clint Mansell and Brian Eno: brooding, immersive, filmic universes through which Brown could escape her shy nature. But she has since stepped out, both as a commanding solo performer and one of the singers and musicians in the touring version of Lost Horizons, the collective co-founded by Simon Raymonde, Bella Union’s label boss.
Brown also cites key literary and visual influences. Film director Ingmar Bergman’s B&W masterpiece The Seventh Seal and David Lynch’s B&W lithographs impacted on Vanishing Lands’ desolate aesthetic and album artwork. Less overt this time are Singapore and Brown’s “fragmented sense of identity, being mixed race,” that underpinned her debut album ‘Consume Me’. The name Dog In The Snow comes from Franz Kafka’s iconic and prescient novel The Trial: “It seemed to represent finding liberation in an oppressed situation,” she explains. “I was trying to think of something with limitless creative space that doesn’t feel hindered in any way.”
The plight of the individual battered by the political system is echoed by the hooded black figures that appear in the album imagery, including the video that Brown has made for the fragile album highlight ‘Roses’. Her inspiration was a photo of refugees at sea, their faces hidden, desperate to escape their ruined homeland. But would their destination, if reached, provide comfort or more ruin? “It doesn’t help when people aren’t welcoming,” Brown says. “That was my mother’s experience when she arrived from Thailand.”
The album’s core theme also covers environmental ruination. ‘Fall Empire’ opens and closes with a warning: “If we did dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster”, which Brown heard on the groundbreaking 1982 documentary Koyaanisqatsi. Given the path that humanity is currently taking, no wonder Brown’s dreams seem to prophesise the end of times.
Still, she feels Vanishing Lands’ finale ‘Dark’ is “the most optimistic song on the album. Like I’m waking up from this dreamland and finding freedom rather than it being a negative feeling. Because things do change. We have to hope things will get better.”