roxanne tataei’s new video is “60s sci-fi + south london seasoning”

April 10, 2019

One of the beautiful things about South London’s Roxanne Tataei and her 2018 album Full Moon in Aries is how whole-heartedly she embraces the breadth of the singer-songwriter tradition. Over the course of her career (you may remember some music she recorded under the name Rox), Tataei’s vocal and writing chops have naturally led her down roads that were at times soulful, at times folky and at times rock-oriented, but never less than 100% open.

“Perfect Fit,” the newest single off Full Moon, has a far more playful vibe, more reminiscent of a slow grindy ‘80s funk with a touch of lover’s rock, yet also all the evidence of Tataei’s skills at constructing the perfect song (great chorus, fun wordplay, et al.). Plus, there’s a sexy dub saxophone solo by King Shabaka Hutchings. Deservingly, it now also has a great video to match, courtesy of Tataei and photographer/film-maker Nwaka Okparakeke.

Since AFROPUNK had Roxanne on the line, we chatted briefly about London, about “Perfect Fit” and about that great video.

You’ve been recording for a decade now…

Wow, that makes me feel old! But it’s okay because I’m Black and my genes defy gravity and time 🙂

Tell me how “Perfect Fit,” ummm, fits into the kind of music you’ve been doing?

It fits because it all comes from me. It’s my voice, my spirit, my experience, my lyrics, my chords, it’s all mine.

What is the through-line between your prior projects and this, but also what makes “Perfect Fit” different?

I try not to think about what came before when creating something new. I just create in the now. But like anything, I wouldn’t have been able to have created this song or visual, without the work I created prior. It’s all an evolution. But I guess on a less esoteric level, I’ve always been a fan of funk/disco. “Perfect Fit” is the first lighthearted, fun and sexy track I’ve released. It was very important for me to share, not only because it’s a great song and visual, but because it’s important to show another side of me. Not everyday serious!

You’ve got Shabaka Hutchings, one of London’s musicians of the moment on the track. Do you get on with him and his music, and the London improvisational scene?

Shabaka Hutchings is a force and I can honestly say one of the most gifted musicians I’ve had the chance to work with. I remember booking the studio for a couple hours, for him to lay down his sax part. He arrived, we spoke and exchanged a few ideas. Within 20 minutes, he was done. Just like that! He truly knows his instrument inside out, as if it were an extension of his body. That was one of my most inspiring musical moments.

There’s a lot of exciting things happening in the London music scene now, especially south of the river, where I’m from. I’ve worked and am friends with a few of London’s finest jazz musicians, like Ahanse from “Steam Down” and Moses Boyd. We appreciate each others’ craft, creative offerings and general existence. We are pushing our artistry and musicianship, and sharing our essence in an unfiltered way.

So do you go out a lot, and interact with that music or just listen to the recordings?

When I’m not being a hermit, definitely  “Steam Down,” a weekly music night in Deptford (South London) created by Ahanse, is pure magic. Not only is it the best night in London, but it’s like church for many people. A place where people can truly allow their bodies to speak and respond to live music, free their minds and truly get lost in the moment.

There’s a very specific, almost style-forward and art-minded aesthetic to the video. Talk a little bit about how it got made, who you collaborated with to make it, and what were your ideas behind it?

I approached the wonderful director Nwaka Okparakeke, who’s mainly known for surrealist photography and short films. I knew I wanted to create a cosmic and futurist visual for the track, and although Nwaka had never made a music video like this before, I knew she could channel the vision. Another integral part of the video was the editor, visual effects (VFX) artist and colourist, Aidan Zamiri. I searched high and low for the perfect VFX person and finally found Aidan on Insta. I had seen a series of visuals he’d worked on with Nike, with incredible unique VFX and hit him up straight away! I really just wanted to create a fun music video, not a short film or something with a particular narrative or story. The most important thing for me was an engaging performance, futuristic styling, beautiful casting and transfixing VFX. Something heavily 60’s sci-fi and Star Trek-inspired, but with a heavy dose of South London seasoning.