Inspired By Filmmaker Kenneth Anger: First Watch By Lady Lazarus

Feb 7, 2013
Originally published on February 6, 2013 9:22 am

The music is languid and surreal; the images are hypnotic and poetic. Melissa Ann Sweat, a.k.a. Lady Lazarus, has a video for her new song "Lapsarian." Sweat, who collaborated on the project with director June Zandona, tells us that she was inspired by an experimental short film by Kenneth Anger called Puce Moment.

"I wanted to evoke its odd elegance, femininity and weird cloistered central figure," Sweat writes of the first track off her new album, All My Love in Half Light.

Sweat continues:

"The song for me is an apt opener for this album that seeks to confront my mistakes in love and do a spiritual housecleaning of past relationships so that I can move forward in this part of my life. The name, 'Lapsarian,' refers to the biblical Fall of Man, though my focus here is about Eve. I suppose I've cast myself as Eve in a way, and instead of owning up to making some mistake, I'm reclaiming our natural selves and sexuality. In my mind, I'm halting that moment so we remain in the 'Fall': We become aware and accept our naked humanity. There's no harm done, no shame. Just own it. We are/were lovers ... sexual, curious, driven creatures all along."

"I approached June with some ideas for a video; among them was a reference to the experimental short film Puce Moment by Kenneth Anger. June was also inspired by the film. Her final concept definitely has some of the spirit of Anger's — we were joking that the video is the love child of Kenneth Anger and Sylvia Plath — though it also hinges on such a surreal and wonderfully simple idea. June encouraged me to cry real tears for the video, which was a challenge for me since I haven't done much acting. It was quite an experience to 'go there,' as they say, and I think it was the right choice, as the emotion in the video comes across quite strongly. June's use of color is also amazing in this, and working with her and our all-female crew was truly a blast."

Thoughts from director June Zandona:

"Melissa was amazing to work with, we were on the same page right away, she approached me with some great references — films by Kenneth Anger and Maya Deren — and we knew from the start that we wanted to avoid a traditional music-video approach. For some reason, the image of Man Ray's 'Tears' stuck in my head. Who is this woman and why is she crying? ... And we started there, and this morose uber-feminine character and strange imagery spiraled out of that in a very subconscious way. My amazing production designer, Lillian Kingery, created all these amazing tableaux, like making a Jello mold filled with animal bones; domestic and sentimental, but very twisted. I can't help but wonder what viewers will think ... It's pretty dark, like Betty Friedan on drugs!"

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