When Sharon Van Etten released “Taking Chances,” the lead single from her upcoming Are We There, Tom noted that it was smoother and more accessible than the dark and brooding SVE joints we’ve come to expect. The video weirds things up a bit, though, by remaking the opening sequence from the 1962 Agnes Varda film Cleo From 5 To 7 with Van Etten standing in for Cleo. Here’s director Michael Palmieri’s statement on the pleasant coincidence that cemented the concept:
SVE contacted me a few months back to see if I’d like to come up with some ideas for “Taking Chances,” her first single off the new record. When I first heard the song the lyrics immediately made me think about the opening sequence to the great Agnes Varda film Cleo From 5 To 7, one of my favorites. I usually mull over ideas for days or weeks before coming up with anything decent to share with an artist, but this one just came out immediately. I sent a sketch of the idea onto Sharon and Zeke Hutchins, her manager, then I didn’t hear back from them for over a week, at which point I thought, well, damn, they must hate the idea, I blew it! But soon Zeke contacted me and asked if Sharon had sent me the album artwork. I said, no, I haven’t even heard anything else off the album yet, let alone seen anything from it. Sharon then texted me pretty much the same question, “Did Zeke send you the album before you wrote this?” Nope. I didn’t understand what the big deal was.
Finally they sent me a photograph that’s a big component of the album artwork, it’s this beautiful aged picture of Agnes Varda standing in front of a bazillion reels of 16mm film. This image of one of my filmmaking heroes has been hanging on Sharon’s wall wherever she’s lived for years and years to the point where it’s all tattered and weather-worn. I like to think that Ms. Varda is standing in front of a bunch of reels from Cleo from 5 to 7, but who knows. It’s just one of the strangest coincidences, and it made us all feel like the video had to be made. So now I can safely say the video is inspired by two incredible women: Sharon, for her musical inspiration, and Agnes Varda, whose inspiration on the both of us is quite apparent.
Watch this fated collaboration below.
Are We There is out 5/27 on Jagjaguwar.