David Bowie Glamour fanzine article 2019
I was very pleased to be featured in the David Bowie Glamour fanzine, in 2019.
Here’s an unedited version of the text of my piece:
One Saturday morning in 2016, soon after David Bowie passed away, I found myself rewatching the “David Bowie: Five Years” documentary. Suddenly, the ’74 black and white rehearsal footage of Bowie and his singers gave me an idea. Through the cacophony of the interview voices, my mind's eye revised the footage into a video for Right, a favorite track from Young Americans. I immediately set to work, and after a long editing session, a rough cut had been produced of the “Right” video. I loved it, and asked myself, “Is video making really that simple?”
In 2018, a master of the art confirmed for me that the answer was, yes it is that simple. Legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog had come to my home town, Hong Kong and was giving a talk to a small audience of local filmakers at HK University. I was lucky enough to get an invitation to this event. Herzog, who famously stole a camera from a film school, in order to make his first film, addressed the audience, many of whom were enrolled on the University’s four-year film course: “You don’t have to go four years to film school. The basics of film-making, you can learn in a week”. Herzog added, “Do not wait for Hollywood to invite you to do a big film. They will not come; they will not invite you. You have to take initiative. Just make your film.” And indeed, I had already come to the same conclusions about three years prior - without any foreknowledge or training or special equipment, or permission or backing, I started making music videos of my favorite artists and posting them online.
I think it was late 1977, when I fell in love with David Bowie and his art. I was a restless, alienated suburban kid, and Space Oddity was speaking to me as no music had done before. I went to a record shop and bought my first album: ChangesOneBowie. The breadth of styles didn’t intimidate me, and I don’t recall particularly favouring the songs from any specific era. I loved every track on that record, and I started collecting Bowie’s pictures from magazines and avidly watching his TV appearances and videos.
Eventually when I felt the “Right” video was finished, I uploaded it to my YouTube channel, and waited to see what / if there would be any reaction. Almost immediately it started to accumulate a lot of views and enthusiastic comments. To my astonishment Carlos Alomar featured it on his site, and Mike Garson got in touch to ask if he could use it! Soon, after, it was used as part of Adam Buxton's Bowie video tour, which played at the British Film Institute and other venues around the UK. The “Right” video has gone on to amass over a million online views. High on my success, I soon made a second Bowie video, “TVC15 – Live 1976”. I used two short bits of Paris I found online, and then simply due to lack of other '76 live material, I created a kind of Thin White Duke greatest clips montage, to fill in the gaps. The video was supposed to be funny, and it worked out okay. I think and it was another immediate big hit for me on YouTube. And so I got third video underway, Breaking Glass – Live, from the Stage album.
By the I bought Stage when it came out in 1978, I had acquired many Bowie albums. Diamond Dogs, Aladdin Sane and TMWSTW were early favorites. Whereas Low and Young Americans, I just couldn’t get my head around. Reflecting on those times now, it seems that somehow I already knew even then that Bowie’s artistic vision, his style and transcendent beauty were peerless and without precedent. In '79 I bought Lodger the day it came out, and by the time Scary Monsters was, I knew every Bowie recordword for word, note for note. Scary Monsters was such a magnificent album, it seemed to me that David Bowie’s genius and originality would never fade.
Since those early videos, I've uploaded close to 100 Bowie’s, and my Nacho Video channels have accumulated millions of views and followers. My videos are frequently featured in online magazines and media sites, including Rolling Stone, and Dangerous Minds, and even on the official David Bowie social media, thanks to my beautiful friend over there, Mark Adams. The Bowie video that I am most proud of is my documentary from 2017, “David Bowie is The Man Who Fell to Earth”. It’s an hour-long meditation on Nic Roeg’s wild sci-fi fantasy. Included are some scenes from TMWFTE, which I re-cut with Bowie’s music from the era, to see how the film might have been, had they used his legendary 1975 “lost” soundtrack. Thanks to Jay Glennie, author of The Man Who Fell to Earth book about the making of the movie, I know that Nic Roeg saw my film, and that he approved of it. Because of my Bowie videos, I’ve been asked to help on several Bowie documentaries and TV features, for which I’ve provided both material, and consultation. One of the best elements of what I do is the huge circle of Bowie / film people that have come to me. Everyday I correspond with other fans, other film-makers, musicians, producers, writers, collectors and many others connected to the Bowie and/or film-making universe. One such person is Hikaru Davis. Hikaru is the young son of Dennis Davis, who was Bowie’s drummer from Fame through Scary Monsters: The D.A.M. Trio era. I’ve been helping Hikaru for a couple of years with his project, Tracing My Dad – The Life and Music of Dennis Davis. Hikaru charms his way into getting interviews with some of the great people his Dad used to work with, and I help where I can, including editing the interview material he gathers. We were very excited when he got to interview Tony Visconti, no less. Please check out Hikaru’s HD Projects social media.
Bowie drew from me a longing for music - and other art forms - that were experimental and new. The hiatus after Scary Monsters saw my musical taste become more eclectic and adventurous. So I was operating very much off the beaten track by the time Let's Dance appeared. The Let’s Dance album, and the Serious Moonlight show I saw did not appeal to me. I had been longing to see Bowie for 5 years, but that show was the great musical disappointment of my life. Subsequent Bowie albums and tours didn’t enthrall me.
I limit my Bowie video work pretty much to the pre-Let’s Dance era. And through the work, I have come to realize that the Bowie period I particularly resonate with is The D.A.M. Trio era (1975 - 1980). Video editing is my hobby and my obsession. I often spend at least six hours a day working on various film projects. Because I’m a bit OCD, my work has to conform to a certain standard and criteria, or it is never going to leave the editing suite. I am often working on multiple Bowie videos, usually focusing on perhaps half a dozen works-in-progress at a time. Sometimes the projects come together very fast, in a week or so. But the majority of my videos probably take at least 3 - 6 months to complete. A big part of the work is the voracious search for archive footage. I'm in a continuous process of researching, requesting, buying, trading, downloading footage, ever amassing more material. The footage collected is catalogued, processed, restored, matched, manipulated and eventually maybe synched and turned into videos. I have several larger Bowie projects in mind. One that I hope to finish soon is: “David Bowie is Live at Earls Court 1978”. It’s a special project for me because those shows at Earls Court are the concert that I most wish I’d been able to attend. But alas, I was too young.
My relationship with David Bowie remained in stasis until 2013’s extraordinary The Next Day. I was staying at my parent’s house, the place of my teenage Bowie obsessions, when I first heard that album. After an absence of over 30 years, love for Bowie’s new music had miraculously returned to me. Listening in at the doorway of my room, my Mum was similarly impressed:
Mum: Is that David Bowie?
Me: Yes, Mum - it's his new album.
Mum: Oh, he’s sounding really good.
Indeed he was. With the romance rekindled, I looked forward to more of Bowie's new music and maybe even… a tour?? Then, of course, less than three years later, that news… Like many reading this I guess, Bowie’s death shook me to the core.
In fanciful moments I have wished I started making the Bowie videos whilst he was still alive, and therefore maybe he could have seen some of them. But the reality is, it was the momentous shock and upset from the news of his death that sparked my creativity. It’s such an honour and a privilege to be able to do this work, and have it taken seriously by so many Bowie fans and by Bowie’s fellow musicians and producers. I am grateful to everyone who watches my videos, and I appreciate all the positive feedback I get.
David Bowie gave me so much, and I consider this all-consuming preoccupation with making videos, his final gift to me.
Here are my Nacho Video channels:
Hope ya dig it!
David Bowie Glamour Magazine can be found here davidbowieglamour.com.