Daphne Guinness releases a new single, ‘Looking Glass’, the latest to be lifted from her forthcoming third album, Revelations due out on August 14, 2020 via Agent Anonyme/Absolute. Daphne recorded the album at Les Studios Saint Germain, Paris – working once again with David Bowie producer Tony Visconti, also at the helm for Guinness’ previous two critically-acclaimed albums, Optimist in Black and Daphne & The Golden Chord.
Directed by newly formed collective The Naughty People (Etienne Gilfillan & James Symonds) and created remotely at the height of the C-19 pandemic, the new video for ‘Looking Glass’ was assembled by Daphne, James & Etienne working from 3 separate locations during the lockdown. Speaking about the new video, which takes cues from Op art alongside silent movies & early experimental cinema, The Naughty People note; “We wanted the narrative of the video to reflect a transition from one state of being to another – Daphne waking from a state of suspended animation and travelling through surreal tunnels, ultimately transcending to higher consciousness”.
Retaining the analogue recording techniques used on Daphne & The Golden Chord (which was cut on consoles used to tape Abbey Road and Dark Side Of The Moon), ‘Revelations’ – captured over the space of a single week – finds Guinness on playfully incisive form as she squares the circle between her asymmetric musical tastes and the pressured uncertainties of the modern world. The lyrics to ‘Looking Glass’ – with Visconti’s velvet strings rubbing up against post-punk guitars – probe the distorted filter of lives led out predominantly online. As Daphne puts it; “A futuristic Alice In Wonderland scenario. Caught in a world which is like a twisted hall of mirrors – smartphones, tablets, laptops.”
Guinness’ creative partnership with Visconti was forged via an introduction from his long-standing collaborator, Bowie, a fan of Daphne’s music who requested she give an interview for him as part of the V&A’s David Bowie Is….. exhibition. Their first outing – Daphne’s critically praised 2016 debut Optimist in Black – was a bruised, Sixties-influenced affair heavily influenced by the loss of two of her closest friends (both of whom referenced Guinness as a muse), Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow, both to suicide. Visconti produced ‘Optimist….’ concurrently alongside ‘Blackstar’, with Bowie often dropping in on Tony’s sessions with Daphne. 2018 follow up Daphne & The Golden Chord saw Marc Bolan-obsessive Guinness and Visconti tip their cap in the direction of 70s Glam, assembling a band featuring members of Go-Kart Mozart, Roxy Music and Generation X.
Once more partnering with her musical director, Malcolm Doherty (the pair having met whilst touring with Visconti’s Bowie tribute outfit, Holy Holy), for ‘Revelations’ Daphne has brought together a band featuring Doherty and his Go-Kart Mozart bandmate Terry Miles amongst its ranks, alongside Roger Manning Jr (Air, Beck) and Rod Melvin (Brian Eno). The album explores a French-flavoured disco sound, the band slipping into their white Repetto shoes to capture the nonchalant grooves of mid 70’s Gainsbourg, sprinkled with the dance floor decadence of Studio 54. ‘Looking Glass’ follows recent single release ‘Deviant Disco’, featured in a new art-film project – nominated for this year’s Berlin Music Video Awards – created by Daphne with another of her long-term collaborators, David LaChapelle.
Though you’ve probably heard the name before, Guinness somehow resists definition. There’s the close friendships with McQueen and Blow, the various collaborations with artists & designers, alongside well-respected ventures in the world of film, with Guinness’ name appearing on the back of the Oscar-nominated Cashback, which she co-produced, alongside a role in art film The Murder of Jean Seberg. If you’re wondering at this stage what her reason for making albums with Visconti at the helm might be, a better question to ask is why she waited so long. A young Daphne trained professionally as a Lieder singer, gaining a place to study at the Guildhall School of music before life for her took a left turn towards marriage and raising her children. “I began in music”, she reveals, “and now I’ve ended up there.”