I’ve already written about Patricia Wolf’s excellent “The Culmination Of” in the review of I’ll Look For You In Others, but this video from filmmaker Edward Pack Davee beautifully captures the liminal spirit of the song and the deep, overall connection of Wolf’s work to her home in the Pacific Northwest. I mention this in the interview below, but her work has constantly emitted an ingrained connection to that region to me, but watching this video crystalized those tendrils in a new way. It’s remarkable.
Wolf will be touring Europe at the end of this month. You can find her tour dates below. I’ll Look For You In Others is out now on Past Inside the Present.
First, how did you all meet and first decide to work together?
Patricia: I first met Edward at a screening of his first feature-length film, How The Fire Fell, and was so impressed with it. I felt so proud to see a Portland artist taking on a project as ambitious as a feature-length film and doing it so well. Not many people in Portland were working anywhere near that level in film at that time. When it came time for me to think about working with someone on a music video, I had him in the back of my mind. I felt nervous to approach him about it because I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about my music. I mustered up the courage to ask, and he said yes, and it’s turned into such a wonderful collaboration that works so well.
One of the things I love so much about this video is how it encapsulates this feeling I’ve always had when listening to your music, Patricia – this connection to the places around you. It’s hard to explain, but your music – and especially these recent works – has always felt so connected to the Pacific Northwest to me. I’m curious what you think about it and if that connection to place was a driving force in this video?
Patricia: The videos that Edward has been making for me will be used as my tour visuals, as well as music videos for people to watch online. The natural world is quite dear to me, and I spend a lot of time worrying about habitat loss for plants and animals, climate change, and the negative impact humans have on our planet. With this video project with Edward, I want people to find wonder and beauty in nature and hopefully inspire them to take action to protect and preserve it.
And Edward, for you and your experience with this music, were there certain places or emotions you wanted to capture that felt connected to these sounds?
Edward: I agree with you that the sounds on Patricia’s albums feel connected to the Northwest somehow. The music immediately transported me to these NW landscapes around us, so it was not difficult for us to decide where to go to gather imagery. We each had our own ideal spots in mind that had the right feel. For me, it’s places that are remote and take on a character of their own, have lots of atmosphere, and a sense of mystery. The Finley Wildlife reservation in Corvallis has always had that for me as well as parts of Sauvie Island, for both of us.
I’m always interested in how the process of gathering footage and sounds relates to the environment itself, so I always want nature footage to feel like it’s from the perspective of the camera person or field recordist rather than some invisible view of the natural world. Patricia’s music sounds very introspective to me. It didn’t just remind me of our nearby landscapes but of the feeling I have when I’m visiting a remote spot, alone with my thoughts and away from the city. So we wanted to capture that introspective, meditative, slightly melancholic feeling of walking through nature, observing your surroundings.
Also, the footage is, of course, incredible. It has this beautiful combination of artistic viewpoint and nature exploration to it. How did you all decide what locations you wanted to shoot and what kinds of imagery you hoped to capture?
Edward: Thank you. I think we just both had spots where we had experienced some sort of magical solitary feeling with nature, and it made sense to visit those particular locations. Sometimes you just find a location that always feels right every time you visit. Something magical always seems to happen, whether it be a herd of elk suddenly appearing out of nowhere, a barn owl swooping over your head, or a family of river otters staring you down at close range. Luckily, we both had our spots in mind, with some overlap, and we got very lucky continuing to find magical moments in these spots.
Patricia: The first location we went to is Sauvie Island Wildlife Area. It’s located just outside of Portland. My field recording for the Particle Count compilation on Room40, curated by Ian Wellman was recorded there. It’s a site that is familiar and dear to both Edward and I. The day we went to shoot, the skies were blanketed in wildfire smoke. We both had headaches from the bad air but went anyway. When we arrived, we were surprised to discover a majestic turkey vulture waiting in the field where we planned to park. The site proved to be a rich habitat for many plant and animal species, such as the Great Egret, Northern Pacific Tree Frog, wapato, hornets, and Great Horned Owl (heard but not seen), among many others. That day we were actually planning to go to Mt. St. Helens but felt that it might be too risky of a trip with the fires and smoke. I’m so glad we went to Sauvie Island because we saw so many incredible things that day. The smoke created an atmosphere that worked so well on camera. It made the sun bright red, and Edward got some amazing shots of egrets flying through it.
Another location we went to was in Portland at Chapman Elementary school, where large flocks of Vaux’s swifts come to roost in the school’s chimney. It’s quite a sight to behold. When I premiered the tour video that Edward made in Vancouver at New Forms Festival, I got some great questions about those swifts after the show. I am so happy that we could share that with others around the world.
What were some of the best experiences working together, filming, and making this video?
Patricia: There are so many good experiences from our trips. Part of what makes these nature shoots so special is that you can’t really plan what will happen. You have to be very present and patient with your surroundings and wait for the magic to unfold around you. You have to be careful with each step and ready to respond to sudden events and sightings that you come across. You have to look deeper at the world around you and appreciate that which you might otherwise overlook. This sort of activity leaves you feeling a sense of wonder and gratitude for what we have around us. The experience of seeing the finished video that Edward made was profoundly moving. It took my breath away, and I almost cried. Edward put so much thought and care into every detail. It is poetic imagery that honors these sites and my music.
Edward: There’s something really exhilarating about those moments when, after searching and waiting, something happens, and you have to spring into action. Like, suddenly, a family of otters appears, and one of us is like, “Look!” and then there’s the quick fumbling with the camera to capture the moment before it disappears. I think we are both very observant, so we were able to catch those things.
On the flip side, what was most challenging?
Edward: We’re shooting on a fairly large camera with a big heavy vintage Angénieux zoom lens, and it requires a heavy tripod as well. Our spots are remote, so we spend a lot of time lugging the gear around from spot to spot. It can be quite a workout throughout the day.
Patricia: I would agree. The only challenge to it was carrying the gear around with us, but it was so worth it!
Lastly, Patricia – I know you’re about to head out for some European shows – what are you most looking forward to with those?
Patricia: I am really looking forward to seeing Albert Salinas and Philip Sherburne from Balmat in Barcelona and playing with my labelmate Nueen, too. I haven’t had a chance to spend much time in Barcelona so I hope I can see more of its sites and get a good sense of its atmosphere. This will be my first time traveling internationally by myself, so it will be quite an adventure for me! I will also be playing in Jena and Berlin on this trip. I am excited to spend time with slowfoam, Katharina Schmidt, Chrysanth, and Bricks at Kwia in Berlin. I am sure I will come back home feeling very inspired and motivated to work on new music.