Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark has the most beautiful worst day ever.
Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark makes lush, mystical art-pop for the types of music lovers who like to ruminate over their pop and their past loves. (If pop music were beverages, room-temp bubblegum pop = supermarket-brand soda; Lavender Diamond = a fine Châteauneuf-du-Pape.) Similarly, actress-director Jena Malone is known for exactly those kinds of earthly, multidimensional, cerebral roles. And those similarities and symbiosis are obvious in Lavender Diamond’s brand-new video, “I Don’t Recall,” directed by — yes — Jena Malone, in her directorial debut.
The “I Don’t Recall” video, from the Damian Kulash-produced Incorruptible Heart album, is a one-woman woebegone exercise in paradox, as Jena catches Becky, the video’s sole cast member (the other unspoken/ unseen cast member: loneliness) in a dusty despair that’s so dreamlike that it feels like everything might end up OK — not that it necessarily does. It’s so sobering to watch a woman’s worst day ever drag out across an unknowable expanse of time and space that the entire scene almost takes on an air of surreal humor. (Watching a man fall down a flight of stairs once isn’t funny, but there’s a twisted humor in watching him fall down a flight of stairs three more times if you can stomach it through the wincing.)
Becky’s portrayal of a love-lost woman barely going through the daily motion of getting out of bed is so legi that her portrayal takes on a visceral quality, and the seamlessness of Becky’s acting and Jena Malone’s artistic influence clicks into place completely when you consider that Jena Malone was inspired by an Andrew Wyeth painting entitled “Christina’s World,” which both women bring to life.
Watch Lavender Diamond’s “I Don’t Recall” video, and check out an exclusive interview with actress/director Jena Malone after the jump.
Buzzworthy: How did you and Becky Stark come to work together?
Jena Malone: We met over six years ago and became instantly enamored with each other. It’s gorgeous when two women can meet and inspire each other and share their creative endeavors in a supportive way. Of course I also fell in love with her music. She is such a pure light and is able to transmit that into song in a honest and transformational way. We have collaborated on many stories and ideas for projects together, but I think this one was just the first that was solidified into existence. I heard her new album, Incorruptible Heart, and just fell in love. I had the song “I Don’t Recall” on repeat for days. And the song jarred in me a story I felt I needed to tell. After that it all came together quite simply. I shared my idea with her, we found a little money and drove up to Ojai with a small incredible crew and made the video over a weekend.
BW: The video has an undercurrent of ironic, resigned humor to it. Was that intentional? What do you see happening to this poor woman in the future?
JM: This video was inspired by a painting I’ve been obsessed with for years. It’s called “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth. As an actor I love using painting and photographs when I’m in the beginning stages of developing a character. And Andrew Wyeth is an artist I seem to always come back to again and again. No one can touch how we see women. His mood and tone are so raw and personal but heart-achingly beautiful. In the painting a young woman is lying in a field looking back at a farmhouse. But it’s her body language which is the most impactful. It looks like she has been crawling or has fallen in the dirt. Her body language plays between that wonderful balance of longing and acceptance of one’s fate. And when I listened to the song, I felt it spoke of similar things. Instantly I knew that I wanted set a lighthearted, humorous as you say, tone to play into the therapeutic aspect of dealing with a broken heart. While exploring her own private female disasters.
BW: How do you pick your projects?
JM: I’ve always let my heart guide me. Much to my agents chagrin sometimes! Hehehe
BW: Which new bands or artists you’re listening to these days?
JM: Lots of different things: Lavender Diamond, Igor Stravinsky, Drake.
BW: Are you working with any other musicians right now? Another other directorial projects?
Well I have to say that directing this video was the single most rewarding experience of my life. I literally wrapped the first day of shooting and had such a rush. I have been on sets for 18 years, so to be able to “run” my first set was a dream come true. I felt like a kid who had finally figured out what they want to be when they grow up. So, yes! I’m writing a short film right now and looking for other musicians to collaborate with! Of course I still love acting and could never give it up. It’s just nice after 18 years of doing something I can find another aspect of it that makes me feel like a kid again.
BW: What music did you listen to on the “Hunger Games” set?
JM: I didn’t really listen to much music on that one. It was more important to have a sense of deprivation. I’m working on another film right now called “Angelica,” which is set in 1880 Victorian London, so all I have blasting is classical and Victorian parlour music!! But occasionally when I need a break, I turn on Pandora to the En Vogue station. Nothing like a little ’90s hip-hop and R&B to make me feel like me again.
Photo credit: Paracadute