How do we make music together? How do we create nowadays, and expand our languages? How do we re-explore the meaning of being an artist, its relationship to society and its goals, in a world in crisis?
The PEOPLE experience has been a life-changing gathering for all the individuals who participated, and the film aims to reconstruct that by telling the story of the ritual it was.
Can music heal? Following the story of Shara Nova writing a collaborative piece for Jessica Dessner, who has been sick for some time. Interweaving it with commentary from different artists on the whole experience, its difficulties and their own challenges, and pushing the cinema language to a refined experience of images, sounds and movements. We created PEOPLE as an in-between documentary and abstract/trance piece, where anybody can get close to the intimacy of those creative moments, and lose themselves in the fabulous music that emerged – hopefully inspiring one another to also create some new settings for creative experiences to come.
I have personally been researching various forms of transcendence through music around the world for the past ten years – from sufi rituals in Chechnya to Ayahuasca ones in the Amazon basin, from shamanism in Indonesia to church singing in Ethiopia… After working for a long time in the modern music of Europe and North America, I thought my relationship with it was over, and I too often saw those musicians and their careers with a distant, almost condescendent feeling – wer- en’t they betraying the shamanic origins of music, with their egos and businesses?
To reconnect with the western world with the PEOPLE project was a shock in the best sense – many among us are actually looking to rebuild collective experiences, to reach something beyond the individualistic goals of the western values, and I never expected that it could take such an extraordinary form as this week-long gathering.
But the path towards this new form of creation is not easy – we need to experiment, to fail, to try again and again. And for artists to get rid of our strong egos, out of our comfort zones of creation, and into the unknown. Some are more willing than others, some are more positive or joyful about it, some others struggle and enter a difficult state of personal doubt of their own methods.
All of this happened during the PEOPLE week, and much more. After the first two days of excitement, the tension became palpable and the despair for some was huge. The festival was coming, the tickets being sold, but the music was not ready, yet. How do we create something else, which does not belong to only the individual, but is a collaborative piece, a collective work which will keep expanding, again and again? How do we encounter the right partners to work with, how do we let the magic happen and guide us?
The last two days of the week’s rehearsals were pure madness. Everything came together, by magic. And behind my camera, which was the only one allowed in those spaces, I could see the synchronicity at work. I mean it – we all got synchronized, we all reached a modified state of consciousness, a trance to put it simply. Something that usually we attach only to far away and ancient forms of being in a collective ritual, something we think is attached to some tribal past, was resurging in front of us, among us. Teaching us that past and future were all blending into our present moment, into our common desire to re-invent the world.
It was so moving that I decided to build this film as a grand ritual of musicians together. Following the rhythms of the music, blending even some of those sonic elements to create another piece of music all together, with the powerful story of Shara Nova and Jessica Dessner as a red thread. What else do we need other than creating some new forms of sacredness for all of us?
Vincent Moon Berlin, October 2019