Interview with Clive Collier

After writing a review about Sanctuary: Lisa Gerrard, Marius Joa had the opportunity to interview the director of the portrait, Clive Collier.

Clive Collier

Marius Joa (MJ): When did you have your first contact with Dead Can Dance’s/Lisa Gerrard’s music and how did that influence you?

Clive Collier (CC): My first contact with DCD and Lisa was back in the mid-nineties when I saw the film Baraka for the first time. I remember just being hypnotised by the film but the moment for me, like so many others, which stood out in my mind was when The Host Of Seraphim was used. I had to know who wrote this music and so I rushed out to buy the soundtrack to the film and realised it was Dead Can Dance.
What that track always did to me was it forced me to close my eyes and stop everything. It was never to contemplate any one thing but to simply stop and listen. For years it always sent chills down my spine and still does. As a musician myself back then, it was always dangerous to allow artists like Lisa Gerrard, Brendan Perry or DCD as a collective to influence you. I say that because when you have such a distinctive group and sound, being infuenced too much often turns you into a clone which is not healthy. The best example of that is why there isn’t anyone remotely close to being similar to Björk. Because you can’t or will sound stupid trying.
MJ: Would you name your favourite songs from them?

CC: To be honest, I love so many and for such a wide variety of reasons that it’s hard to pinpoint a favourite. If I had to list a few I would say De Profundis, Black Sun, Summoning of the Muse, Oman. Actually I would say that Towards The Within is the album I’ve listened to the most.

MJ: Why did you choose this sort of disturbing, almost psychedelic beginning for the film?

CC: Because the structure of the film is alchemy, each element signified an aspect of Lisa’s work or life. With the opening section being ‘fire’, I wanted to unsettle the audience in a way because they probably wouldn’t be expecting it. That way I’d get their attention. I needed to create the undercurrent of the film which was to place her importance in context. Why is a talent like Lisa’s important? Why should we listen or take a moment to pause? Why does her voice mean so much to people in such turbulent times? Also, the troubles in the world becomes a reocurring motif  as later on, Lisa cites the war as the reason why she reunited with Brendan for the 2005 Dead Can Dance tour.

MJ: You use a lot of abstract and symbolic images in the film, e.g. hands. What do they stand for? Is it Lisa’s hands we see?

CC: Lisa has extremely beautiful hands but not in a diva-esque way. Looking at her, you might expect them to be manicured with long elgant nails and extremely well looked after but the truth is very different. They are the hands of a practical countrywoman who deals with the earth around her and I think that says so much about her. I was taking some portrait shots and footage for the video Come Tenderness and I asked her out of the blue to just improvise with her hands. She thought it was a bit of an odd question as I didn’t tell her what I wanted to do with the footage but really got into it. I didn’t mention anything about the hands in the film until she saw the final cut and realised how important that little improvisation actually was.

MJ: You’re the new site administrator of What can you tell us about the future projects?

CC: I’m the new site admin but only for the time being while I’m working on her new site. With a documentary and new album shifting her image into a whole new area, it was really obvious to me that she needed the site updating. It was looking pretty tired and had to be over-hauled since we decided quite early on that Lisa was going to use the internet a great deal more in her marketing. There are future plans with the website and some new projects between Lisa and I but nothing I can go into any detail about right now.

MJ: Congratulations on your intimate and visually stunning portrait about Lisa Gerrard. Are you planning to do more documentary work in the future?

CC: Thank you and I’m glad you enjoyed the film. I have some exciting ideas for projects but as with most things, it’s hard to get things off the ground financially especially when you’ve just paid for the last film out of your own pocket! However, I see the film on Lisa as the starting point for a series of documentaries on notable artists which I would like to continue for many years to come.

MJ: Thanks for the interview, Clive!

Lisa Gerrard Solo /Collaborations Discography:

1995 The Mirror Pool
1998 Duality (with Pieter Bourke)
2004 Immortal Memory (with Patrick Cassidy)
2006 The Silver Tree

Dead Can Dance Discography:

1984 Dead Can Dance/Garden Of The Arcane Delights
1985 Spleen And Ideal
1987 Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun
1988 The Serpent’s Egg
1990 Aion
1991 A Passage In Time (compilation)
1993 Into The Labyrinth
1994 Towars The Within (Live)
1996 Spiritchaser
2001 1981-1998 (Best Of)
2003 Wake (Best Of)

Read the review: Sanctuary: Lisa Gerrard.

Marius Joa, October 18th 2006. Photography: Clive Collier.

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