Birdmask, aka Zeal and Ardor’s Manuel Gagneux, has released the video for his latest single, “Set Me on Fire,”. A fire-and-brimstone testament to emotional and romantic torment, “Set Me On Fire” sets Birdmask’s impassioned soul vocals to church organ, choral harmonies and portentous drums.
“I’ve had this song ready for a couple of years now but being preoccupied with other projects kind of forced me to leave it on the back burner. I feel like it’s about time to let it out,” says Gagneux. “In the time between then and now I was lucky enough to tour the world with a different project, score plays and start a secretive anonymous project as well, but Birdmask will always be the name that I identify most with. It sort of feels like coming back home in a sense. I’ve tasted a great many fruits and licked my wounds all around the globe and it just might be time to head back home. Greet old faces and maybe even sculpt new ones that might find comfort in this place.”
The Swiss multi-instrumentalist turned to Flexer and Sandiland, the Brighton-based award-winning creative team of choreographer Yael Flexer and installation artist and director Nic Sandiland. The resulting video “holds artistic merits in its own right. Filmed under social distancing conditions, it’s as elegant as Birdmask’s song, the two pieces enhancing one another in turn.” (Consequence Of Sound)
Discussing the video, Nic& Yaelstated, “There have been a fair number of ballet-based music videos over the past few years, but not so many which incorporate contemporary dance, which is our main area of practice. Yael and I took this as an excellent opportunity to introduce a new flavour of movement into the genre bringing together some of our key Company members at a time when all live theatre shows have ground to a halt. Working under social distancing meant a skeleton crew of just 4 people (including our dancer, Luke Birch) all multitasking without the luxury of assistant directors, runners, grips etc. In many ways we’re used to this kind of small shoot as it adds to the intimacy of the film though this was a pretty tiny crew even by those standards. The film owed much of its energetic and dynamic movement to Angus’ expert camera movement, shot purely handheld with no other camera mechanisms, and his sensitivity to the subtleties of the choreography.” (flexerandsandiland.com)
Gagneux first started dabbling in his intoxicating melee of classical, pop music and harsh noise while living in Harlem, New York City. Since 2013, Birdmask bubbled away in the underground, as he uploaded song after song of melodic chamber pop and what he rightly dubs “pop-rocked-bliss” onto Bandcamp, drawing appreciation from fans and tastemakers along the way.
With a Birdmask tour planned for 2016, a new career-changing project was unexpectedly inspired for Gagneux and took over: Zeal and Ardor. The project led to world tours and albums. However, Gagneux is now returning to his nascent musical creation Birdmask – the one with which he identifies most closely – and “Set Me On Fire” is the first of his stadium-beckoning official releases that will allow it to take flight.