Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Jul 18th 2008 12:00PM by Denise Sheppard
Like it says on their Web site, "One song. One take. One cab" is the perfect description of the Black Cab Sessions' modus operandi, and there are moments of minimalist beauty throughout this unique London-based production company's mini-films. If the site feels like a labor of sincere musical love, that is because it is, explains Black Cab-ber/filmmaker Jonny Madderson. He says that they stay true to the one-shot rule for two basic reasons -- endorphins and money. "We're pretty militant about the 'one take' thing, because it adds so much to what is thrilling about the sessions -- watching an artist go for it as the cab weaves around corners and lurches over speed bumps. We're also hard core for financial reasons: We pay for this all ourselves, so doing any more than one take would mean the cab fares get expensive."
While so far, the Death Cab for Cutie performance is in the lead for 'most viewed,' Bon Iver's emo-falsetto in 'Creature Fear' could warm the most deadened of souls. Madderson admits that getting famous participants was a tad tough until one respected artist signed up as their sixth player. "Daniel Johnston was a big step up for us. He's one of our all time favorites; we were just starting out, we had nothing to lose, let's give him a shot. It worked out nicely; he was really into the idea and was game for it, and next thing we knew we had Daniel Johnston singing us a song in the back of a black cab! After that people took us a bit more seriously and the more established acts got into the idea. That said, we're just as much about the smaller acts -- the stripped-down nature of our weird venue provides a level playing field for all the acts, and smaller bands such as Fanfarlo and the Cave Singers have come in and nailed it just as much as the big guys, and we love that."
According to Madderson, the musicians -- ranging from My Morning Jacket to Spoon to Cold War Kids -- are genuinely into the "one take" element because "the artists love the challenge. You've got to be pretty awesome to hold a song together in the back of a speeding cab with no second chances. And with the one-take rule, so much rests on their performance; because there's no cuts and no post-production; the session lives or dies by how good they are. That really gets them pumped. It gets us pumped, too -- being played a song by these artists, that intimately, is incredibly special -- and, hopefully, this comes through for the viewer because it is all one take, so they see it as it honestly was, exactly as if they were there."