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Making of the video: Zen Love Song

Wanting to create a simple Japan-esque landscape in which to place Zen Love Song, I drew inspiration from black and white studies of early 19th Century artist Hokusai, mixing this with rich decorative textures from Roxanna’s childhood and my current home, Riverside House – emotionally relevant to both us. This inspired me to use the sun and vibrant colour changes, to create a landscape where the listener could reflect on the 15th Century words of Zen Master Ikkyū (about having lost his “lovely miss” to another man) – whilst also providing a backdrop for the traditional Japanese lullaby, Edo Komoriuta, that runs through the piece.

The bird-like dialogue between the Soprano Solo (Voces8) and Shakuhachi flute (Kiku Day) instantly created a visual narrative; on hearing the words of the ancient lullaby, a child pining for his dismissed nursemaid, the emotions of the bird were clearly heart-breaking. I enlisted the amazing illustration skills of Jem Panufnik to portray the little bird as colourless – therefore “empty” having been deprived of the person he loved most.

This is a simple video, which I hope is representative of Japan’s visual culture and depicts the sadly resigned tone of Ikkyū’s words – plus, of course, the beautiful sound-world Roxanna has created to release them into.

Mischa Giancovich