These days we've recently been making music that has a lot more space, it's fairly dramatic and cinematic.
—Jesse Warkentin, Mahogany Frog
So the question is, which comes first? The music or the film?
"The music, definitely," says filmmaker Doreen Girard. She has been paired with the psychadelic rock outfit Mahogany Frog in Bands vs. Filmmakers III, a fundraising event for Cinematheque.
The annual event pairs local bands with independent filmmakers to develop an exciting new visual and musical experience. Bands will perform their music live to the backdrop of original films.
Tongue is firmly placed in cheek with regard to the title of the event. "It's very collaborative," says Girard, "I feel like we're definitely on the same team."
Girard has long admired Mahogany Frog's music. "That's totally who I wanted to be paired up with," she says. "I've been a fan of theirs for a long time. I think they're really great musicians, so I was really happy."
"They've got really great riffs, really great phrasing. Good music is just really one of the most inspiring things for me when I'm making films and images."
An example of Girard's work with musician Julia Ryckman of This Hisses
Jesse Warkentin is a guitarist and keyboard player in Mahogany Frog. He also has a good feeling about their pairing. He says the band knew Girard from her work with local underground and experimental music and film and have even been involved in shows with her.
He admires her work, which is generally performed live, often using repurposed and home-made slide projectors. Girard builds dense, abstract images on her slides using materials such as lace, plant particles and seeds. "She makes these weird slides and uses the focus knob to meld between different images," says Warkentin.
Mahogany Frog's sound is something that works very well with film. "These days we've recently been making music that has a lot more space, it's fairly dramatic and cinematic."
The process began over a month ago when Girard and some of the band members met to decide on the music and the approach.
Girard chose a piece from their latest recording, Senna, and the band decided on two brand new pieces. They had to go into the basement to record them so that Girard would have something to work with.
"Then she started to put together a bit of a morphing, trippy slide performance," he says.
Girard says she listens to the music a lot while she works, then slowly builds the pieces of the project, reworking as she goes, making sure the timing and all the elements work. All the elements are prepped in advance and are projected live during the performance through a slide projector.
Meanwhile, the band is feverishly perfecting their new material for showtime.
Bands vs. Filmmakers III fundraiser for Cinematheque takes place June 6 at the West End Cultural Centre at 8:00 p.m.