Exploring the eye of the lens: an interview with Carl Arnfield of Chalkman Video

Chalkman guitar

We first came across Chalkman Video through videos and a film they made with UK punk band The Vox Dolomites. It has been impossible not to be increasingly impressed at the discovery of more of their work and videos uncovered in our investigation. Wanting to learn more ourselves we thought we would bring you an insight into one of the emerging protagonists in music video by stealing time of and talking with the creator of those potent visuals.

Hello, welcome to the site and thanks for sharing time with us.

First question has to be just who is Chalkman?

Carl Arnfield, at first I didn’t want to be seen as a single person filming/editing, so I used a name to work behind, which means if other people are involved it’s still the name they see and not individuals.

What were your early inspirations growing up which you think led you into your love of and work with film?

It’s more to do with cameras and seeing the world via them in macro / wide angle / fish eye. I’m a nerd when it comes to cameras I love using them.

If I had to say what inspired me to see what is possible via film/cameras it was when a video company called “Sitcom Soldiers Ltd” filmed a band I was in and watching how they worked changed everything about how I work and create my videos…I owe them a massive thanks. They still help me with problems with lighting and understanding the process…Which proved to me that knowledge should be passed on and not kept jealously to ourselves. Everyone uses a camera in a different way so knowledge isn’t going to make people copy your work if you pass it on; it gives them a tool to create their own work.

When did you make the decision to try and make this art form your career?

It’s six years ago now when I couldn’t find anyone to make videos for my bands … so I started making my own videos, and then it was a logical step to create our bands videos.

You mentioned you were in a band, are you as able and talented with other art forms, music for example as behind the camera?

I play several instruments and a few people will be aware of the bands I’ve been in, but I guess most will not, so from punk to metal and all the way to electronica to folk, it’s all music to me and when you on stage you are performing no matter if it’s a guitar or mandolin.

We know you for your music videos, especially the excellent Vox Dolomites film which we will talk about later. Is there another angle to your portfolio, short films for example for us to discover?

Yes, I’ve done a few shorts, which is great fun and rewarding, and I’ve been talking to a few writers/actors about doing more to improve that area of film making.

The shorts are on my site.

You have filmed and directed music videos for bands such as Yo el ReyEpic Problem, Juno, and of course as we mentioned The Vox Dolomites. How have these generally come about? Is word of mouth and recommendations still as potent as simply being noticed say online?

Yes it’s completely word of mouth. I think you are more likely to work with people that you have either seen work of and have someone say, “try this guy…. he did our video”

How do you approach music videos, do you have a general strategy?

Keep as simple really, talk to the band, see what the song is about, see if there is any chance of creating a look on an almost zero budget. Then see what’s left and work with that.

I imagine story/narrative wise around the song itself it is collaboration between band and you?

Yes, I always try and create a video the band will like, they are paying for it so it should be what they want otherwise they will not promote it.

Once you have found a person in the band with vision and find a way of telling them how filming works and what’s possible, you do come up with ideas of how you’re going to approach the shoot.

Some bands know just what they want from the get go … some do but you have to find out by knowing what they don’t want and narrowing it down that way.

Some bands (Vox Dolomites) just say do what you do…. and are happy with me creating something, they are very trusting.

How long does it take to prepare for a shoot from the crossing Ts and dotting Is to film day?

Well, months really, from the point the band contacts me, up until I start the shoot, making sure you write down all the shots you need as the main frame work, and then the little shots / angles to fill in the video

Let’s just say there are so many emails/Facebook messages regarding every detail of the idea

…And generally for the shoot itself?Chalkman juno shoot1

If you have prepped well you know what the band want and if they are good like Juno and send me pics of the room they wanted to film in you know what to expect and it’s so much easier. Having a pro-active band is a massive help since I work alone and Juno were awesome to work with.

What we loved about your videos and style is that there is honesty to the camera work; you manage to get right into the heart and climate of the performance or story, in position and in colour/lighting. Is this something you deliberately aim for or simply a welcome by-product of other things?

I can honestly say, it’s just how I film, I love “depth of field” and when using a lens to blur out everything other than a face or a say an eye or a guitar part … you drag the viewer in as that’s all you can focus on.

I see things in “depth of field” and so I film that way, meaning I look at objects and blur out the rest of the world, so that’s how I film. I love strong colours and I’ve never been a big fan of that washed out film look like you’re seeing the world via a net curtain.

Do you have a core intent which spines every piece you work on?

I make notes of what I want to create or how I’m going to create the video and if you read them back months after I have finished the video it’s what I wrote down, so yes I think I do.

Chalkman TokyoWe earlier mentioned the brilliant Vox Dolomites, a band we love and you have made a few videos for. You made the riveting thirty minute film with the band of their Dirty Work Tour in Japan. How did that gig come about?

That all happened because Will, the guitar player said “you should come film it” as an off the cuff remark, and that was it, simple as that. Will is an enabler and he knows it, he also knows me and my love of travel, so it doesn’t take much for me to say yes to something like filming in Japan.

That was the biggest project to date for you?

Japan was one of the biggest things I’ve done, but last year 2013 I was in California filming a band called The Started-Its where I had to film their support slot to Barbwire Dolls and produce 3 promo videos as well in a matter of days

….and to make things worse/better I had to learn a couple of the songs and join them on stage for the last song on guitar and they refused to rehearse the songs with me… no pressure then!

How difficult were the logistics of the project alone to work out?

If you’re walking into a situation with a band you know, you are able to get things set up a lot quicker

But flying to a country like Japan and filming in venues in cities you don’t know and also record the audio for mixing later to be synced to your video …. I think it’s a logistical nightmare and I have to say I had sleepless nights for months before I got there.

But being pragmatic to say the least you try and work out everything that COULD go wrong and have a plan b (c, d & e) just in case.

Not just saying it to make you our friend 😉 but it is for us one of the best tour videos in recent times, a film which not just shows the band but the atmosphere and passion created by the fans during and outside of the gigs themselves. I know the band is very popular in Japan but were you expecting to see such fervour personally?

Thank you, I’m very flattered that people like the work I do, being completely self-taught I self-doubt to whether I can achieve the goals I set for myself.

I was warned about Japan and how bands are accepted there and loved, but also it was overwhelming how some of the fans that travelled to a few of the gigs gave me gifts because I was with the band… just so welcoming, amazing people (stunning food as well)

There must be plenty of difficult moments and funny stories coming from not only that project but overall jobs, anything you would like to share with us? Any secrets?

What’s the old saying ….”what happens on tour stays on tour”

Is there any particular video or piece of film outside of the Vox Dolomites movie which you are most proud of?Chalkman juno shoot

Yes I’m really proud of the Randolph Swain & The Red LightsLittle House Video that I shot last summer in Manchester at 4.30am in an empty city centre.

I had to convince then that it’s all about the light and feel of an empty city … and being in the north of the UK its light very early in the morning in summer.

What is your latest project and what is up-coming in the world of Chalkman Video?

I’m going to be in San Francisco filming several bands including The Started-Its and a few I meet last time I was there.

Where is the best place to see your work for the readers?

My web site has most of the work www.chalkmanVideo.com

…and contact details for bands interested in discussing video possibilities?

info@chalkmanvideo.comor via my Facebook page www.facebook.com/ChalkManVideo

Thanks once again Carl for letting us steal some of your time.

No thank you for letting me crap on about what I do.

Lastly please leave us with the sounds and bands which ignite your passions outside of your video work?

That’s so easy The Dickies to Pegboy to Decendents to Biffy Clyro to Godspeed You! Black Emperor to Leftfield … depends really on my mood.

We will be looking in on Carl during his upcoming work in San Francisco so watch this space but before that go check out his work at the above links.

The Vox Dolomites – (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais

Pete Ringmaster

The Ringmaster Review 20/03/2014

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Axecatcher – We Watch The Sun Burn EP



    If like us you thought Axecatcher’s last EP Sparks & Spears was forcibly impressive last year, and it undeniably was, than be prepared to be blown away by We Watch The Sun Burn. The new three track EP from the Irish hardcore band is exceptional, a furious and compelling manipulation of senses and emotions which not only confirms all the early promise of the band but thrusts them up onto the frontline of raw noise conjurors. The maturity bred and songwriting levels reached in the space of a year is stunning; the last release had the potential and weaponry to bring new blood and fury to hardcore, We Watch The Sun Burn realises that promise and so much more.

     Formed in 2011 and hailing from Limavady in Northern Ireland, the then trio of vocalist/guitarist Ryan Montgomery, bassist/backing vocals Colin Wilson, and drummer Danny Kane, made an instant mark with debut single The Odalisque in their first year. The well-received sonic exploration raised an attentive approach towards the band, something that Sparks & Spears turned into a more fevered appetite with its release via Belfast’s Savour Your Scene Records. Between EPs Axecatcher has kept momentum busy with their live shows and appearances, the band sharing stages with bands such as KEN mode and Rotting Out, each adding to their reputation and acclaim. We Watch The Sun Burn though takes things to another level for the band, in sound and stature. The release sees newest member, vocalist Karson Browne adding flavoursome rages to the passionately generated causticity. It is just one aspect where things have flourished over the twelve months or so, everything falling into incendiary place from an already impressive proposition.

    Opener Genghis Thrash Khan is an irresistible contagion from its first seconds. A sonic intrusion makes the first scar but is coversoon submerged in a rhythmic bombardment and a great vocal provocation from Browne, Montgomery, and Wilson. Once interest is enslaved, the band rampages through the ears with a fire of riffs, a deliciously throaty bass incitement, and the ever destructive might of Kane. Into its rapacious stride, grooves and viciously barbed hooks spear and seduce the passions whilst vocally Browne and the band squall with antagonistic fire and accomplished craft. The track continues to twist and evolve the deeper it entrenches itself into the passions, punk and hardcore fused into a quite magnificent predator of sound

     Easily the best thing on the release and of anything Axecatcher has written to date, the track makes an imposing benchmark for the rest of the EP, something the following Cinders handles with voracious intensity and flesh scorching spite. The opening graze of guitar only hints at the energetic bruising soon uncaged as Montgomery entwines sonic tendrils around the senses whilst riffs gnaw just as feverishly. Rhythms add to the lure with their commanding and crippling cage of sinew driven beats whilst the exhaustive and impressing vocals simply tear strips off their trapped victims. True the song fails to match its predecessor but still builds its own scintillating plateau for others to take inspiration from.

  The closing N.O.V.A. stomps and dances seductively straight away, it’s addictive grooves and discord kissed sonic spearing encased in a infectious embrace of catchy intrigue and masterful invention. Never allowing a moments respite in its psyche carving tempest until its midpoint where the heavy muscular rhythms of Kane pin the senses down by their shoulders in solitude, the furnace of passion and noise is a mouthwatering unpredictable violation and another irrepressible declaration of just how immense the band has become and will continue to grow. It is a staggering conclusion to a primal and instinctive slab of sonically and emotionally spiteful brilliance.

    There are numerous outstanding hardcore bands across the UK and Europe, but right now Axecatcher has taken a march on most with world persuasion definitely on the cards. EP of the year so far certainly, release of the year…it is right there challenging without doubt.




RingMaster 20/03/2014

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Harper – Feel So Hollow

Photography by Luke Weall

Photography by Luke Weall

     Offering a sultry climate within which a blues bred persuasion takes the imagination on a keen yet subdued stroll, Feel So Hollow the new single from UK rockers Harper, is a magnetic encounter which awakens appetite and intrigue for the accomplished quartet. Only the second release from a band less than a year old, the single declares its creators a proposition well worth watching closely.

    Hailing from East London and Essex, Harper bring a fusion of blues and alternative rock to the ears, a sound which has already bred an eager response and following through the band’s appetite for gigging. The summer of 2013 saw the release of their debut, the Drawing Blood EP. It was a release which was soaked in promise and gave a potent invitation and indication of what the band was all about. Feel So Hollow is a stronger declaration, a big step forward which retains the potential and qualities of its predecessor but stretches and presents them with a greater maturity and open invention. Recorded near the end of last year in drummer Toby Thacker’s home studio, the single lights up senses and emotions; it still suggests there is plenty more to come from the band too but strongly hints that Harper’s horizons are going to be eventful and potent for them and us.

     The opening twang of guitar awakens song and attention, instantly bringing thoughts alive with its smouldering evocative a3159707955_2embrace especially when the dark tones of bass from Jamie Simpson begins prowling the scenery too. The crisp slow jabs of Thacker are an equally compelling lure as the song wraps blues drenched atmospheric tendrils around the senses. Vocally guitarist Matthew Broadbent, like the music, takes his time delivering the pungent textures of the narrative whilst Daniel Bhattacharya’s guitar skill designs a web of sonic enterprise around them adding further engaging enticement from the song. It is a minimalistic presence that is offered but one with layers of adventure and almost cinematic colour which spark the body and effect of the proposition to greater heights. Increasingly addictive the more you plunge into its immersive bordering on psychedelic tones, the single is a quite riveting suasion.

    There is a definite Black Keys feel to the song too which is not a bad thing, a flavoursome spice to use whilst the band evolves their own truly unique sound ahead, something you feel is already coming. The production is good without giving the track the strongest opportunity to shine in greater potency, the union of vocals and music especially not as smooth and equal as it could be, but it cannot deny a great song and performance from making a compelling statement. Harper is a vibrant and exciting prospect which Feel So Hollow makes an impressive and rigorously pleasing invitation to. Do not take our word for it though simply grab the song as a Buy Now name your price download below for proof.




RingMaster 20/03/2014

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Radio Drive featuring Kevin Gullickson – A Taste Of Heaven



    Kevin Gullickson first came to our attention with his album This is Our Time in 2012, it coming out under the name of Radio Drive which the musician retained after his previous band disbanded. The release was a captivating embrace of melodic rock and indie pop brought with an eclectic and inventive imagination. The fourth album from the Minneapolis singer songwriter, it easily bred a healthy appetite for his style of musical intrigue and emotive prowess and now the artist returns to feed it further with new single A Taste Of Heaven. It is a song which simply confirms all the impressed thoughts and assumptions of greater things to come sparked by his previous release.

    With the previously mentioned band coming to an end in 2009, Gullickson continued to write stirring pop encounters, unveiling them across a trio of albums, Dream The Impossible (2009), Life Today (2010), and I Can See The World From Here (2011) before he entered our radar with This is Our Time. Impressed media attention and radio plays have also come with the release of his records, tracks being featured on online, college and indie shows and stations across the US, Canada, and Europe.

   Whilst A Taste of Heaven seduces ears it is easy to expect similar reactions to follow its emergence. The creation of the song is almost as magnetic as its lyrical inspiration, the narrative bred from when the artist met his love in New York City on a cold November day. Gullickson says about the song, “I wanted to capture the essence of this time in my life and hope others can relate to a similar time in their life and catch that taste of heaven.” Recording a demo version, he sent the track over to producer Chris Garcia (Celine Dion, Demi Lovato, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears) to arrange and record the song, as well as adding additional synth parts and playing the bass guitar on the song. Guitarist Nick Lashley who has played with artists such as Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne, and David Archuleta, was also brought in as well as L.A. session drummer Ben Rose. Once Gullickson had added his vocals and the final mix was completed by Tom Polce (Bob Dylan) with mastering completed by Grammy award winner Gene Paul, the single was ready to persuade the world and it seems has been instantly taken to.

    As A Taste of Heaven embraces it is not a surprise that it has raised a strong appetite already, the song swiftly emerging persuasively from an emotive ambience with tender and inviting guitar designs and the impressive melodic tones of Gullickson. In no time a personal depth is felt, not only lyrically and vocally but musically too, whilst the smiling melodies and rhythmic beckoning embrace ears and imagination with a warm magnetic hug. The keys and bass add further drama and texture to the scenery of the song, skirting the words that dance across the guitar coloured canvas of the song, their reflective warmth an infectious evocation.

    The single is pop rock at its finest, an encounter which lingers and seduces with poise and elegant craft reinforcing the emerging and increasingly potent presence of Radio Drive and Kevin Gullickson. A song to voice your summer and love affairs, A Taste of Heaven is the perfect entrance into an easily accessible and skilled songwriter.



RingMaster 20/03/2014

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Hiidenhauta – Noitia on Minun Sukuni



     As Noitia on Minun Sukuni, the debut album of Finnish black metallers Hiidenhauta menaces, toys, and seduces the imagination the overriding thought is that here we have a mouthwatering proposition with the potential to be a major force within the genre in the future. Brewing up an encounter best described as symphonic meets folk in a black metal landscape, though that only hints in many ways at the adventure sculpted, their first full-length is an unpredictable and enthralling eight track exploration of the senses. It is not without a few moments which are not as successful as others but from start to finish it captivates and stirs emotions to create one of the more refreshing and exciting blackened exploits to come along over past months.

    The band was formed in the early weeks of 2012 by vocalists Fornjotur and Riena. The pair soon enlisted keyboardist Gastjäle, bassist Ihtirieckos, and drummer Rostiof to explore and expand their inventive sound before guitarist Marras was added to complete the line-up that summer. With lyrics written in old Finnish kalevalametre and finding inspiration from nature, Baltic-Finnish mythology, anti-Christianity aspects, history, and darkness to create dramatic narratives to match the sounds, the band unveiled their first EP Surma saapuu suota myöten in the wintery beginning of 2013. Well-received it was followed a few months later by the Eikä aurinko valaise EP, again to strong responses. It drew the band to the attention of Inverse Records who now release the new record. The Satakunta sextet make a striking persuasion and presence on their to be widely released album, an initial full strike triggering what you can easily see as being a triumphant and long term journey ahead.

    The release opens with a scenic ambience but one soon soaked in a portent atmosphere and brewing intimidation. Keys bring hiidenhauta_cover_2400the first wave of drama within Tuhkasta with thick punchy rhythms in close attendance as the track expands its embrace and stretch. As soon as the carnivorous bass snarl aligned to caustic riffs stalks the senses alongside rapaciously delivered vocals squalls and the increased adrenaline of drums, the track becomes a contagious beast of a proposal. But then just as you take a tight grip ready to charge eagerly across the ravenous torrent the band rips the ground from the feet with the excellent temptress tones of Riena. The music instantly relaxes to caress her seductive voice but it is a brief respite as the track reasserts its predatory appetite and leaps voraciously at the listener once again. Acidic grooves and imagination infecting hooks incite with the richest toxicity whilst the twists and intrigue of the song simply satisfy every want of the imagination. It all makes for a stunning start and confirmation of a band on the rise.

   The following Raato opens with a gothic breath, mere seconds of House of Usher like mystery before uncaging another ravenous intent and intensity. The corrosive delivery of Fornjotur is a pungent vocal incitement for the incendiary rhythmic onslaught and tightly entwining grooves, whilst the sirenesque lures of Riena only accelerate the mesmeric danger rather than temper is suasion. Pestilential in attack and sonic predation, absorbing in breath and melodic enchantment, the song like its predecessor evolves before the ears without deviating for its almost insidious purpose, the enslaving of bodies and emotions.

    Tuo On Tuuli Nuolen Tuoja preys on the senses from its first slow sonic wrapping of guitar around the ears. It is not an open intimidation though as a reserved and potent hook teases from within the reined causticity. The track is a relatively brief instrumental which worms under the skin and across synapses setting up thoughts for the dangerous charms of Hiiden Virsi. Featuring Jonne Järvelä from Korpiklaani who provides a wonderful shamanic abrasing, the track is a simultaneously vitriolic and meditative intrusion. Almost like being lost in a self-induced altered state where all the light and dark hopes and fears flail at the senses in physical form, the track is a transfixing yet uncomfortable tempest. It gives the imagination and emotions a playground to exploit though the same can be said about the whole release to be fair.

   The classically bred keys of Gastjäle add a crystalline evocation to the bordering bedlamic Sumussa Soutava next. It is a track which bewitches and savages, once again creating a consumptive tapestry which never settles or leaves warning signs within its meandering soundscape. Though it does not stand up as impressively as the earlier songs it still leaves a rewarding bait to greedily devour, the dual vocals of bestial and beauteous depths especially thrilling. Its closing acoustic caress leads the listener into the eager ravenous jaws of Ruumisvedet, raw riffs and scowling vocals welcoming submission for its grizzly rock n roll majesty. An irresistible groove makes the first irrepressible trap, soon backed up by expressive keys and uncompromising rhythms. There is a devilish swagger and repetitive bait to the track which is wholly addictive but similarly the enchanted allurement of Riena and the melodic weaves which emerge without warning from within the brawling aggression, make a lingering temptation.

     The brilliant scourge ensures that the nine minute plus landscape of Kaartuvat is under pressure. It is a slightly overlong oppressive exposure for the senses, attention wavering at times, but it is still one which never leaves a moment redundant of enterprise and intrigue as it provides another aspect to the songwriting and stance of the band. It is followed by Sula Pohjaan Luut Levolle; an inspiring emotive piano crafted instrumental offering an epilogue if not to the album to the previous adventure.

    Hiidenhauta is a band with a powerful destiny ahead of them and using Noitia on Minun Sukuni as evidence, will be making fine and potent use of it.




RingMaster 20/03/2014

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