Le Renard Bleu
Lafawndah Midori Takada
Le Renard Bleu, the latest film by Partel Oliva for Kenzo, takes a new collaboration between musicians Midori Takada and Lafawndah as ground zero for recovering a crucial myth for uncertain times: the blue fox.
As transmitted by Takada, the fox appears in both ancient Dogon and Japanese folktales as the trickster archetype; belonging both to the heavens and to the earth, the fox is the agent of chaotic good, shaking the world up when its energy has become stagnant. Above all else, the fox is famous for its cunning nature.
The music of Le Renard Bleu originated in Takada's preoccupation with the legend of the fox; after constructing a vivid instrumental composition dramatizing the spirit animal's journeys, Lafawndah responded – in her inimitable mix of fairytale and undertow — with lyrics capturing a dialogue between her and the fox himself. Finally, Partel Oliva imagined a contemporary cinematic frame for the myth of the fox to re-appear, creating a hybrid of choreography and narrative around Takada and Lafawndah's performance of their joint composition (also titled Le Renard Bleu.)
Bleu marks the first new music released by Midori Takada in nearly twenty years; it would be difficult to overstate the importance of her return to the public eye. Her first solo record, 1983's Through the Looking Glass, has been rediscovered and heralded as a lost classic; its influence continues to permeate and inspire a new generation entranced by its lucid beauty and sensual patience. In the ensuing years, Takada-san has worked closely with theater group the Suzuki Company of Toga on productions of Electra and King Lear, an experience, she says, that allowed her to pursue “a unity of music, body and space.” Recent live solo performances have evinced the depths of her exploration of all three.
It is in a mutual commitment to this unity that Takada, Lafawndah, and Partel Oliva find fertile aesthetic common ground.
In her two EP's, self-directed music videos, and live performances, Lafawndah has drawn out an uncompromising exploration of how theater, performance art, and choreography can extend the affective palette of forward pop music.
Returning to film in Japan for the third time, Partel Oliva's moving image work (Club Ark Eternal, The Pike and the Shield) has set the standard for and revolutionized the fashion art film. Their deployment of original music, dance, and a highly stylized mise en scène coalesces here in the casting of Los Angeles krump artist Qwenga as the eponymous fox, stalking the halls of the ancient Noh theater in which Takada and Lafawndah's performance takes place.
The pregnant, ghostly atmosphere of Le Renard Bleu is underscored by the evocative prints and cuts of Kenzo's SS18 collection; the uncanny choir of girls that cooly observe Takada and Lafawndah in the film are draped in tiger and bamboo prints cut to futuristic silhouettes, while Takada — a longtime admirer of the house — dons a vintage Kenzo kimono. A fitting close of the circle, then: decades ago, Takada adorned herself in Kenzo for her first solo performance.
Why call up the myth of the fox now? In Le Renard Bleu, the collapsing of distance between generations, styles, and milieus intimates that the relationship to time must be shaken. The future lies in fragments in the past; to remember is to recover it; the fox rises to thicken the plot.
Le Renard Bleu
Fox tell me please
Fox is it true that you just can't be bothered
to stay for long
Is it true you haven't caught your breath
Fox is it true that home has felt distant
Fox tell me please
Fox tell me please
How do our shapes arise and fall
Fox sing for me
About how one mind learned to read another
Should I keep my room in order
Even if you upturn every try
Does the mess afford a treasure
Invisible to the naked eye
Fox do you
Fox don't you
Fox will you
Won't won't you
Through myths, we can escape from time... they project us out of our personal duration and incorporate us into other rhythms, make us live another history.
It is said that every generation casts its mind back to a previous era in times of crisis; the resources that will allow us to decode the questions of our moment may lie in the myths of another era.
Subsequent to the release of her self-titled and TAN EP's, the creative trajectory of Lafawndah has both fanned out and sharpened, revealing an artist whose vision has only intensified as it expands.
Lafawandah's journey to her current incarnation as a devotional pop polymath has wound as unpredictably as her compositional style. From a childhood spent under the tutelage of legendary percussion instructor Aderfi Aksil through to her controversial tenure at the short-lived but influential Dassin Sakina Institute, Lafawndah's traversing of musical and artistic milieus has been defined by a freedom of tone, surrealist sense of space, and assured manipulation of formal and psychological tension.
After two acclaimed, self-directed music videos (Tan and Ally), Lafawndah has continued to tour internationally, where her live shows have become an ever-evolving testing ground for ruptures in the seamless concert experience, pitting committed humor against relentless physicality. Her ongoing relationship with filmmakers Partel Oliva has generated a cinematic body of work where a shared fascination with the counterpoints between music, body, space has paved a new lane for moving image and song. Most recently, this collaboration has resulted in Le Renard Bleu, an album and companion film made with legendary composed Midori Takada. Further, Lafawndah's HONEY COLONY mixtape series has put the full extent of her dense, baroque, maximalist production and arrangement style on display, drawing thrilling new potentials from fellow travelers Klein, Bonnie Banane, Kelsey Lu, and Kelela.
In these inversions and re-imaginings (alongside recent new live material), one can trace the influence of artists such as Meredith Monk, Carlos Sara, and Andy Kaufman as much as musical antecedents AR Rahmann, Missy Elliott, or Geinoh Yamashirogumi, all while feeling and sounding only like herself. Uniting these projects and sounds is an overarching widescreen vision, saturated and bracing, sensual and imposing.
Midori Takada is a masterful Japanese composer and percussionist whose output over the past 40 years weaves through solo, group and theatrical practices.
Her deep quests into traditional Asian and African percussive language are captured on a series of now highly sought-after albums including her masterpiece Through The Looking Glass (1981/RCA) and her collaboration with Masahiko Satoh Lunar Cruise (1990/Epic-Sony).
In chime with the peak period ambient and Fourth World music explored by Jon Hassell, Don Cherry and Brian Eno, but born of a distinctly Japanese ceremonial and meditative musical sensibility, her work has a crystalline quality that distils rhythms from around the world into minimalist instrumental dreamscapes.
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY PARTEL OLIVA
WITH CINEMATOGRAPHY BY NAOKI NODA
& PRODUCTION BY LAURE SALGON
SEI & SO
KENZO Creative Directors
Carol Lim & Humberto Leon
Photography by CG Watkins
Executive Producer Arno Moria
Executive Producer Gwendoline Victoria
Japan Executive Producer George Lea
Japan Line Producer Jonathan Ealey
Production Coordinator Yuki Inoue
First Assistant Director Teru Haruta
First Assistant Camera Gen Ito
Second Assistant Camera Shun Kitagawa
Steadicam Koji (Scott) Ishida
B Camera Brian Rogers
DIT Kyle McCloskey
Key Gaffer Satoshi Mizoguchi
Best Boy Electrician Kei Kubota
Electrician Yohei Aoshima
Electrician Kei Yokoo
Electrician Satoshi Kurosawa
Electrician Ritsu Fujie
Costumes Ai Kamoshita
Stylist Assistant Annette Babushka
Seamstress Azuna Saito
Key Makeup Artist Nori Kose
Makeup Artist Chifumi Nambashi
Key Hairstylist Keiko Tada
Hairstylist Takeshi Katoh
Casting Director Taka Arakawa
Casting Director (Twins) Ayumi Ohara
Sound Engineer Edan Mason
Production Assistant James McGuirk
Production Assistant Elena Kawamoto
Production Assistant Moena Masuda
Editor Juliette Penant & Partel Oliva
Editor Assistant Ariel Benitah
Colorist Gabriel Porier
Calligraphy Sunao Maruyama & Ryota
Post-Production Nightshift Paris
VFX Sébastien Aubert
VFX Vivien Salvagione
Post-Producer Béatrix Cousin
Sound Mix Jérémy Chatelain & Nomak
Sound Engineer Masahiro Yamada
Agent of Midori Takada Ken Hidaka
Music recorded at Avaco Creative Studios
& Red Bull Studios
Shot on location at Tessen-Kai Theater
NAC Camera Rental
(c) Insurrection / Figures II