Kazu Makino: The Selkie who landed on the Isle of Elba

10.05.2021, by Giacomo Luperini

Kazu captures and recounts visions from a distant world. In her new short film shot on the Isle of Elba, the Blonde Redhead singer plays a sea creature who becomes human once every hundred years.

According to a Celtic legend, with some luck, while at sea one might stumble upon a “Selkie”. Selkies are mythical creatures shaped like seals, who are able to slip out of their skin and take on human features to enjoy the delights of the land. Until, that is, the call of the sea becomes too strong for them to ignore.

With her new release “Adult Baby”, Kazu Makino has “slipped out” of her Blonde Redhead skin to reveal herself in all her complexity. She does it through the psychedelic, dreamy sounds and flowing narrative thread of a visual album, directed by Eva Michon and entirely shot on the Tuscan Isle of Elba.

Kazu Makino, better known as Kazu, the successful lead singer of indie-rock band Blonde Redhead, has chosen to set her short film on the Tirrenic island, where she says she has found a new home that helped her overcome her insecurities and create her first work as a solo artist.

In the waters that surround the island, just last year, sightings were reported of a mysterious species of monk seal (Monachus monachus Hermann), that had been reported missing for over fifty years. The people of Elba say that monk seals are sometimes able to climb the steep hills overlooking the sea to steal and eat the Aleatico grapes that grow on the island’s sunny shores. In the movie, Kazu has chosen to play a gigantic, lonely sea creature who turns into a human woman in order to enjoy the delights of the land, if only for a while.

We see Kazu wander around, like an alien approaching a new world for the first time: half stunned and half fascinated by her new environment, full of fleeting yet intense love encounters, walking through the traditional chiassi (alleys) of the small island town of Capoliveri. At the end of her journey, the Giantess takes on her original shape once more, towering over the town before diving back and disappearing into the deep blue sea. All that remains of her visit are a huge dress abandoned on the shore, and some gigantic footprints in the sand. Her “earthly skin”, which she was forced to shed in order to change and start her new life. There are still traces of what she has created, though they risk soon being swallowed by the sea.

The artist’s music and imagery convey a strong sense of displacement and discovery, a veritable journey through the constant danger of losing oneself through the vicissitudes of life. A compelling search of one’s human core, of what makes us unique compared to the rest of the world. Whispering voices, orchestral arrangements, synthesizers, piercingly high-pitched notes, pop and loop samplings compose the soundtrack to this slow transformation, a peek into the absurd that allows us to see our everyday reality with different eyes.

Among the many colorful collaborations included in “Adult Baby” we find those of Blonde Redhead guitarist Amedeo Pace, The Art Orchestra Of Budapest, Robbie Lee’s flute, Greg Saunier, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s piano, Mauro Refosco from Atoms for Peace, Son Lux drummer Ian Chang and producer Sam Griffin Owens.

Kazu‘s first, welcome experimental journey is now complete, and she is moving forward with her successful Blonde Redhead career. We are eagerly awaiting the band’s new release -slated for the end of 2021- as well as the Silke’s return to our lonely shores.

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