When it’s no longer an act

Posted on April 22, 2021 by Alex Mayor

The second track retrospective in a short series called ‘Not from memory’, looking at the precarious filmic moment that is Deleted Scenes.

The hours are interminable. The reason you’re on this gantry, obscure. The outcome, at best, imaginary. Ah… acting! Yet as we dangle, as two smiles are poured into the Panavision’s all-seeing eye, perhaps a new reality is both made and seen.

Lyric writing is always an intriguing process. For me the words are almost always the start of the song. A line pops up in front of the eyes, usually on wobbly melodic stilts… “write that down!” my head will demand. Something now exists, a thread to pull on, a clue, an opening… Often, the next part of the process is simply trying to deduce the plot from the tiny glimpse of the novel’s cover you’ve been afforded.

‘Deleted Scenes’ began this way; there was something terribly purposeful sounding about the line “I can still recall the feeling, when the cameras start to roll…” which suddenly appeared in my head while wandering aimlessly through East London one afternoon. Was it an imagined Hollywood career? The eyes of someone looking one’s way? The mistaken memories of a terribly unreliable narrator? (Well that’s a given…)

Pop lyrics are of course customarily transfixed by romance, over-anticipated, unfulfilled in a hundred interchangeable ways. Somehow, on this song, it was actors have a moment of realisation in the middle of shooting a classic ‘two-hander’, sensing there might be something in the moment, that wasn’t simply the performance. Stuck up a ladder, aloft in the rafters, lenses trained, seeing each other’s faces in a new way, for the first time.

An ‘undeleted scene’ from A Room With a View

There’s a moment in love, the part that’s rather as if you’re wandering the grounds of a big house, open-eyed yet unfocused by specifics, careless but keenly aware. Something might be in the air, you aren’t merely wandering in convoluted circles for nothing, there’s a direction to your enjoyable shared misdirections. There’s no word for this present-are-we-maybe moment. Maybe that’s as it should be. But it’s a delicious time-frame mind game. Rarely does life feel more alive. You will never be as confident while knowing so little, hopes riding so high, yet as unconscious as if in a dream. You’re writer, actor, director (and stunt person) all in one.

There’s probably a terribly zeitgeisty argument to be made about life in the social media age being a series of fictions, largely built out of what’s left when you’ve deleted all the failed pouting/dancing/falling-over. But let’s ignore that. Memory always implies a level of forgetting, just as a film gains form from what’s left on the cutting room floor.

As ever – a huge high five to my musical collaborators – the wonderful Mike Monaghan on drums and percussion and trumpets; he’s a one-man orchestra, truly. And Clare Younis, whose sonorous clarity and high-jinks add a shimmer of brill to everything she sings on. 

AFH x

PS You can hear all of Deleted Scenes on my Spotify playlist – “International Jetset Mindtravel Darlings vol. IX” – a balming 1.5 hours of holiday-facing European head nodders that will see you right: