“Syndromes” is a short film directed by the young and talented Kristoffer Borgli. “Syndromes” is also the second album by The Golden Filter, the New York electronic duo consisting of Penelope Trappes (vocals) and Stephen Hindman (synthesizers). “Syndromes” is a rare case of a movie whose music is not simply a soundtrack but the reason for the movie itself to exist in the first place. After watching its eleven minutes, a haunting story of a young girl and her healing powers, her relationship with her mother and with ill people, shot against norwegian landscapes which are as green and lush as they are unforgiving, we needed to know more. So we spoke to Stephen and Kristoffer, who told us the story of this experiment; in the style of our Cross Paths section, each from his own side.
Chapter 1: Manners first. Allow me to introduce myself.
Stephen: We are The Golden Filter and we mostly make music. Penelope studied Opera in Sydney, Australia a few years back and later became my next door neighbor in New York City, where I was toying around making electronic music in my apartment. We chatted about film, Twin Peaks, 80s new wave, feminism and 70s heavy metal, and then decided to work on music together. We first released a song called Solid Gold into the world ourselves, then that grew into a few more singles, about 8 remixes for other artists, and then we released our debut full-length “Voluspa”, followed up with “Syndromes”. I think that we are most proud of our whole body of music and ideas that we come up with, rather than one particular thing.
We want to make engaging music and have it be visually striking, but also, we want people that listen to our music to delve a bit further into our ideas and try to grasp what’s underneath. Within pop music that’s not always an easy task.
Kristoffer: I’m Kristoffer Borgli, 26 year old filmmaker based in Oslo. I started off filming skateboard films as a teenager, and decided at one point that filmmaking was going to be my life. My father was very supportive of this. I’ve done a lot of music videos, commercials and even a short film that opened the Norwegian Short Film Festival this year. I would say that my music videos has been most successful, and it’s where I have really tried to develop a style and theme for myself.
My inspiration comes from my own youth, the scandinavian creepiness, suburbs, norwegian black metal, architecture, good films in general. I think all my music videos could be seen as one person’s fever dreams during one night, they’re all connected. My ambition right now is to write a short film, and produce that as soon as possible.
Chapter 2: You wanna hang out?
Stephen: We saw a few of Kristoffer’s videos for Casio Kids, Serena Maneesh, and others, and we really love how he creates bizarre and uncomfortable worlds without a lot of special effects. We also like how he has his own identity and style that is very recognizable when you see more of his work as a whole. We shared some of the same influences. Kubrick, David Lynch, and probably a lot more that we never had to talk about. The music came first. We had an idea to release 6 of our songs that were more moody and cinematic than usual as a short film rather than just a CD. So we contacted Kristoffer who was also looking to do more film-esque projects within the music video context. The day that Kristoffer emailed us a photo of the Emma, the actress he wanted to use for the lead role, we got so much more excited about the project. She is perfect for it. She has an absolutely amazing expressiveness.
Kristoffer: They contacted me. Having already listened to their previous album, I was immediately intrigued. I really like their sound. I don’t remember if we discussed to many references, but I think we all liked Kubrick and his enigmatic Eyes Wide Shut. Syndromes came about after getting a bunch of songs sent to me, and I started writing. I wrote one script, but then new songs would be sent to me, and I had to change it because I fell in love with the track Mother, and I wanted to do something inspired by that song. That’s when the mother/daughter theme emerged.
We just spoke on skype and e-mailed back and forth, discussing a bit about the story, and then I did the film in Oslo, and after a while we had new discussions on the edit. In the end we found the good balance between my film and their music. It turned out pretty good!
Chapter 3: Hey, I like you!
Stephen: We worked really well together. When you work on a collaborative project, as time goes on with more and more work going into it, we all became really close to the project, and quite protective of it. So, of course there are times when each of us will push though an idea or have to compromise on something else, but collaborating is always a delicate balance. It worked out really well, and I think the amount of work and care that went into the project shows. There is always a certain influence that collaborators will get from each other. We love the result. We’d definitely consider repeating the experience if all of the pieces fell into place.
Kristoffer: I’m happy with the film, it’s a little poem of sorts, a dream, something without a beginning or end, like some pages found from a book out of context. It’s very moody, like the music. The music influenced me a lot, and the title “Syndromes” came from my script, so I know something went the other direction too. It would be interesting to do it again, their sound fits my style perfect. I’m actually sitting in my parents summer house, writing a short film right now. Off course, it’s disturbing to have internet. After this e-mail I will shut it off!
“Syndromes”, a limited edition CD+DVD, is out now on Perfectly Isolated