Voodoo In The Subway

Exploring Two Sides Of Technology In Massive Attack’s New Music Video

Is technology a blessing or a curse? Will it enhance or destroy our lives? It is this key idea that rising star Ringan Ledwidge brings to the centre of our attention in his collaboration with Bristol trip-hop superstars, Massive Attack. As a film maker and director, Ringan realised that Massive Attack’s newest release, Voodoo In My Blood, was a fitting title to explore some of his lingering thoughts upon technology and our relationship to it. “Ideas are funny things,” he tells us. “Sometimes they just come to you and other times it’s like being constipated!”

Ringan’s film making career started late. He left art school equipped with a stills camera and a desire to take as many pictures as possible through his travelled around the Middle East. “I ended up working in film in a pretty haphazard way,” he affirms. Having crossed alignments with Massive Attack, we can safely say that Ringan’s en route to becoming a major success in the British film industry.


The video, starring English actress, Rosamund Pike, portrays a lone woman strolling down an isolated subway, when suddenly she is accosted by a strange, floating orb. Like voodoo, Rosamund’s character is propelled into a trance, allowing the spherical object to control her every movement. The violent thrashing incurred by the power of the orb turns Rosamund’s character into more machine than human. As such, the metaphor questions the limits of technological advancement upon the human body and psyche. “It was a short one day shoot,” Ringan elaborates. “Rosamund’s choreography and performance is incredibly demanding physically so we knew we had to nail our side of the shoot relatively efficiently.”


We loved the video so much that we caught up with Ringan to find out more:

The Plus: How did you get involved with Massive Attack for the Voodoo video?
Ringan Ledwidge:
Massive and I have known of each other for a while. Previously the stars had never aligned, so when the track came in I was determined that this time they would. It was a bit of a dream to be honest.

TP: What was the inspiration behind the concept of a woman under the spell of a demonic floating orb?
I’ve been thinking a lot about technology, how it’s sexy and alluring and terrifying all at the same time. For some of us, technology becomes addictive, it possesses you. They were the emotions that I wanted to tap into. For some reason a sphere came into my mind. Which led me to recall a movie called ‘Phantasm’ that I loved when I was a kid. In it there’s a terrifying stainless steel, Swiss army knife, of a ball that kills people in gruesome ways. The other was a movie called ‘Possession’ in which the lead actress becomes possessed. They’re films that have always stayed with me so I used them both as trampolines to get myself into the project.


TP: Which location did you choose for the shoot and why?
I wanted the idea to take place in some kind of public subterranean space. And when the location shots for the ‘Joe Strummer’ underpass came in I knew that was it. It almost felt like a set of the future designed in the 1970s. I loved the bright colours as it’s not the kind of lighting you’d normally associate with a dark tale. Somehow that contrast seemed to make the idea all the more terrifying.


TP: Why does Rosamund Pike’s character laugh?
Rosamund and I talked a lot about what her motivation was throughout her performance. To how technology looks very desirable. I wanted there to be a slightly unhinged flirtation between her and the sphere, between her and the orb before it went nuts. The laugh is the final part of that, like the giddy laugh of a lover, obviously a more warped version of that, but that’s what we were going for.


TP: What was your favourite aspect of the shoot?
A couple of things really stood out for. Firstly, having the chance to work with an incredibly talented actor and secondly, the joy of seeing an idea starting to come to fruition.


TP: Were there any alternative endings that you conceived of?
We’d worked on how the choreography and therefore the video would end, but Rosamund’s hair covering her face like that just happened the one time. As soon as I saw it I knew that’s how the story had to end.

TP: What’s next for you?
Next for me. I’m finishing up a big Nike commercial and then am on to getting a script called ‘Magnetism’ into shape for Amazon Prime’s film division.