Light, Cruel & Vain

by Parrish Smith

Recording the videoclip

Part of Parrish Smith’s debut album “Light, Cruel & Vain” is the single “Never Break Faith”. My part in this videoclip was building a massive videowall displaying ±20 different videofragments over ±50 screens in one of the big halls of the defunct ammunition factory Het Hem, Zaandam.
Below you can see the videowall from front and back.

Top: the installation a day before the video recording
Bottom: backstage during the recording

Launch event

The album and single were officially announced on the first evening of the Close Range: Parrish Smith exhibition at Het Hem. For this exhibition a different videowall of more then 50 screens was built in a more uniform and industrial style. On the first evening it was the backdrop of Parrish Smith doing a live performance of his new album. Some essential fragments of the videowall from the recording day were displayed, but most of the screens focussed on a video made for the album and the videoclip of “Never Break Faith”.
The exhibition was open for visitors from april 8th and april 17th.

Blurb from Het Hem about the Close Range: Parrish Smith residency, also the release event of "Light, Cruel & Vain" and "Never Break Faith":

Parrish Smith is an electronic musician with an urge to explore the possibilities with his music. Over the years, he has pushed the boundaries of conventional electronic club music by collaborating with diverse creators and working interdisciplinary. He collaborated with FOAM on a soundscape for an exhibition by Ai Weiwei and, at the invitation of the Tropenmuseum and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, he made the album Genesis Black with archive material about the Dutch slavery past and the colonial past of Suriname.

In the months that Het HEM was closed to the public, he used the old bullet factory as the backdrop for his video project Never Break Faith, which is linked to his debut album Light, Cruel & Vain (Dekmantel Records). For this project he collaborated with artists Alice Héron, Atilla Yuksel, designer Philip Atanasov and tech artist Roel Weerdenburg. The video, directed in collaboration with Gijs Ranitz and Djoa Lekatompessy, features a throne-shaped sculpture by Philip Atanasov and a carrot-like installation by Alice Héron and the spiritual plasterwork of Irma Joanne. These monumental objects will be on display from April 8 as part of a mini-exhibition that showcases Parrish Smith's multifaceted practice.

About “Light, Cruel & Vain”

Blurb from the Bandcamp release page:

Parrish Smith is never one to let you breathe easy. As a globally renowned DJ, he’s become synonymous with high-velocity sets that cut and collide through his distinct array of obscure sounds. Meanwhile, however, the artist has been carefully constructing his own musical idiom. Manoeuvring his most delicate and most defiant feelings, Light Cruel & Vain (Dekmantel Records, 2022) is the first fruit of that painstaking process. A compilation of ‘imperfect music’, the record is shrouded in the artist’s characteristic veil of mystery. As always, his sound cuts and chokes – sometimes cruelly, sometimes soothingly – yet this record offers a new, longer, lighter gulp of air. Here, Parrish Smith bares his most private process so far: one of personal transformation and becoming a better version of oneself.

Light Cruel & Vain was developed over the course of nearly three years, following nearly a decade of individual experimentation. Where on the one hand, LC&V reflects an inward pilgrimage (aka Parrish Smith facing the world and Parrish Smith facing Parrish Smith), the project simultaneously reflects the birth and growth of a band. Each track on the record is originally based on a solo idea, moulded and fine-tuned in conversation with contributing musicians Sofiane Brahmi and Javier Vivancos, then finalized by the producer. The collaborative process brought together niches that wouldn’t typically share territory or sound, allowing music to emerge that transcends each of their boundaries. In the making of LC&V no conventional studio sessions occurred; due to covid-19, the full collaboration process was a remote affair of sharing snippets, (re)working recordings and, most of all, exchanging thoughts and feelings.

Those who know Parrish Smith a little, know his long-standing mantra: ‘No elitism, no prejudices, no genre. Hypnotic, tense, comprehensible – a state of mind.’ It’s this dictum that best describes the LC&V sound(s). Tapping into all irreverent niches close to his heart – noise, punk, industrial, electronic, and even pop – Parrish Smith refuses to foreground one influence over another, instead layering and warping his personal interpretations of each. To categorize his seeking sound would be to limit the artist who, more than anything, thrives in limbo. ‘You could call it a concept album because the sounds are so far apart. But perhaps that’s not a concept, perhaps that’s just me…’

Parallel to his extensive musical experimentation, the past years have allowed Parrish Smith to zoom in on his writing. The resulting fragments form the foundation of LC&V’s collage-like, soul-searching lyrics. Never, however, does the artist take his words to the front of stage; instead treating his voice as a malleable instrument, just one of many shifting layers in a bigger picture. The distorted lyrics, as such, are an statement: ‘It’s alright to be insecure about some of your qualities. In fact, the key is to embrace just that, to take matters into your own hands.’