New Talent: Xiphi
Directors Melody Maker and Lauren Van Veen describe Xiphi as "a protean being that formed in a nebulous cloud in an alternate dimension". Which, if you watch a selection of their work, explains the otherworldly aesthetic that can be found within their music videos.
The London-based female directing duo (and their producer, Gwilym Lewis-Brooke) are fresh on the scene, but already have a slew of music videos under their belts, including ‘De Nada’ for Wzrd Yoshi and ‘Psycho Jam’ for Wildhood (of Rizzle Kicks fame).
A recent signing to Odelay Films, LBB’s Liam Smith caught up with the collective to find out about ‘the golden ratio’ and what inspired the dystopian drug factory in ‘De Nada’.
LBB> Tell us a little bit about yourselves, what is Xiphi?
Xiphi> Xiphi is a protean being that formed in a nebulous cloud in an alternate dimension very similar to our own but with key differences. An alternative post-Cold War future if you will. Xiphi, whilst rhyming with sci-fi (for your phonetics) also comes from phi - the golden ratio - source - the beginning of everything.
LBB> How did the two of you meet, and when did you decide to start directing?
Xiphi> Melody Maker and Lauren Van Veen met whilst astral-planing at some point in 2007. We manifested our love child Gwilym Lewis-Brooke in January 2017, completing the scientific triangle of trust that still exists in its present form today.
LBB> You recently directed the music video for rapper Wzrd Yoshi. Can you tell us a little about it? Where did the idea for a dystopian drug factory come from?
Xiphi> We had set up a number of distilleries in unused flats in East London. Using GM yeast we were able to effectively produce heroin without the poppy flower. This cut out the middleman and made the business venture much more viable. At the time we deemed it sensible to trade on alternative currencies such as bitcoin. This is why the bitcoin mine also appeared in the video. After some success speculating the crypto-currency market, the excessive amount of Xiphi Skrilla (our own currency also heavily featured in our videos) cleared and we were able to see the reality that lay behind such ill-gotten gains. We decided to dedicate our lives to using the power of cinema to explore current affairs around the world and give our own unique viewpoint to the world of today (and tomorrow).
LBB> How would you define your directorial style?
Xiphi> With all our projects we go at them as if they were films. Currently this year we have about eight music videos under our belts. But we don’t view them as music videos. We hear a song and write a film to them influenced by what we have been reading. This could be hearing about police-controlled armed drones roaming loose in the United States (Tayla ‘Coming Back Around) or pondering on modern day wage slavery and the erosion of workers’ rights (Wildhood ‘Psycho Jam’).
LBB> You recently signed to Odelay Films. What attracted you to the company?
Xiphi> We really liked the look of the company and had seen a bunch of their output. However, when we looked at their roster we really felt something was missing… enter Xiphi.
LBB> What other pieces of work are you proud of and why?
Xiphi> Psycho Jam, which we made for Wildhood, was a full-on short film. We worked on it for a month and all three of us killed ourselves to make it happen. To build the office scene we rang up office clearance companies until we found a DHL company that was being cleared that day. We jumped in a Luton Van at six in the morning and went down there to gut the place. Then we found an amusement arcade in Whitechapel that let us squat in their basement for a week while we built it. We put the work into every project we do. We never skim. All three of us will die for our work and that comes out in what you see. We made Psycho Jam for £2000. No one else can do that.
LBB> Are there any other mediums (feature, commercial, docs etc.) that you'd like to explore as directors?
Xiphi> Yeah, for sure. Music videos are a way for us to express ourselves as people pay us to make advertisements for their artists. We take this money and make the films we want to make. But we are limited due to time and money - the true essence of cinema. We plan on making feature films so we will soon. First we want to move into making commercials for other sorts of industries and short films. Adverts are a cool place for us to throw down our creativity. We have a short period in which to put our heads together, bring up an idea out of the ether, and make it come into reality. It is crazy - we think it, then it happens. Magic.
LBB> What inspires you as directors, and what are your biggest influences?
Xiphi> We are inspired by the inner depths of the human psyche and black hole theory. The way that current events fit into good and bad paradigms, that all becomes null when we consider all we are is vibrating frequencies. All we are is stardust.
LBB> What else can we expect from Xiphi in the future?
Xiphi> We have crazy projects in the pipeline right now… can’t really talk about them still.
LBB> And finally, what do you get up to when you're not working?
Xiphi> Sorry, we don’t understand the question.
Category: Music video , Short films