Interview: 3epkano

Metropolis with 3epkano - Triskel Cork 26th September 2014
Silent sci-fi, the power of relationships and more with 3epkano's Matthew Nolan...

The below interview was originally published in the 25th September 2014 edition of Cork's Evening Echo.

“It's because we straddle the line between the visual and the musical that we've been able to find a niche for ourselves and we've been doing it for ten years. Most bands are lucky to last just three or four.” Matthew Nolan, the mild mannered-yet-determined driving force behind Dublin collective 3epkano is keenly aware of what makes his long running project - accompanying silent movies with original live scores - such a special proposition. Blossoming from Matthew’s avid appreciation of the silver screen, 3epkano celebrate their 10th year by revisiting Fritz Lang's forward-thinking 1927 sci-fi classic: Metropolis. Rewinding back a decade, how did these wonderful adventures in celluloid come to be?

“Our first gig was my mad brainchild”, explains Matthew, a little incredulity in his voice. “Cameron [Doyle - 3epkano guitarist] thought ‘This is mental...but count me in’ so it started from there. We booked five more musicians, the venue and the film print from the BFI. Believe it or not, I started marketing the event before we even committed any music to the project. [Dublin-based German cultural centre] Goethe-Institut were our partners so as we got the right people involved and there was nothing really happening like it, we received lots of press. The Sugar Club completely sold out! Some really interesting people came to that show such as Orla O'Brien who thought it was fantastic and said ‘I want you to do something in The National Gallery’ which led to us putting on regular events there. It was amazing that someone would take a chance.”

Having played prestigious venues worldwide such as New York’s Academy of music, it is these relationships which have proven to be the lifeblood of 3epkano. “Because we have worked so often with German film that partnership has grown and they have put us in touch with places all over the world such as with a lovely woman in New York (Juliana Camfield at Goethe Institut NYC) who opened all of these doors for us. That is a combination of luck and creating opportunities in a nice and slow way and not looking for the ‘quick kill’. Often bands are looking for something that will get you a headline slot at Electric Picnic as quickly as possible. You have to build a foundation first which is why we have lasted as long as we have. If we choose to keep this thing going it has sustainability because those relationships are good and the way we choose our projects means we can reinvent the wheel every time.”

Having previously scored Metropolis at the Dublin Film Festival seven years ago, why then did Matthew choose to return to Fritz Lang’s seminal sci-fi flick? “Our initial performance was with the older edit of the film which was considered to be the most complete cut until another version was found three years later. To me it is probably the most famous of - especially European - silent films. It's so visually striking and the story itself is becoming increasingly relevant to contemporary late capitalist life. I was particularly attracted to its graphic nature, the visual style, this almost industrial presentation because that had a musicality of its own in some ways similar to Man with a Movie Camera, another film we have worked with."

"We got asked to do it many times after that and then it just went back on the shelf as I felt we had to move on. Metropolis being one of the better examples, a lot of silent films have existed in a butchered form. Some will remain like that as time is running out and celluloid has a certain shelf life, even if well stored so Metropolis was the holy grail of cinema culture when the most complete version was found. I was piqued to see what the complete film looked like and what kind of challenge it would pose for us to revisit, reinvent and also write a whole lot more new music than I thought we would as it is a half hour longer and the story is radically different. True it has the same ending and key turning points but the mood and how an audience identifies with the characters and how they develop is completely different to the edit we previously worked with so I thought ‘what a great challenge’. Also because we were going to be celebrating our 10th anniversary this year and Metropolis is such a recognisable film that hopefully we would get a lot of people to come and see what we do. That certainly turned out to be the case in the National Concert Hall six weeks ago where we had nearly a thousand people turn up. A lot of that was down to the choice of film as that iconic status felt like it was the obvious choice for our tenth anniversary celebrations.”

For more on 3epkano visit:

- Fritz Lang’s Metropolis with 3epkano takes place in Cork's Triskel Christchurch Friday, 26th September
- Tickets are priced at €15 and available from the box office

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