Surely nothing can be more frustrating for a Producer than a project that sits on the shelf because of legal wrangles? For me, this was a documentary about the first visit to the UK by the Icelandic girl band, NYLON (now known as The Charlies).
NYLON were a huge hit in their homeland, steered by Iceland’s answer to Simon Cowell, the entrepreneur/producer Einar Bardarson. Multiple No.1 albums and singles followed but Iceland is a small market and so a UK launch was planned, and I was to film the process.
The band, Alma, Klara, Camilla and Emilia were lovely ladies with fantastic voices, and talented songwriters. I had barely been introduced to them when I filmed their departure for the UK. Icelandair treated the band like royalty, allowing Emilia to sit in the cockpit for landing in the UK, and allowing our cameraman to film her doing so (generally unheard of it the post-9/11 aviation world).
What followed were some exhaustive sessions as various stylists, hairdressers and choreographers groomed the band. The dance lessons really put the band under some pressure and tensions surfaced.
But NYLON’s first UK gigs were an eye-opener. For several weeks they toured UK schools putting on free performances, often twice a day and then perhaps a local night-club appearance. It was a fairly gruelling schedule and I can vouch that the band sang live rather than miming. That’s a lot of hard work, bundling up and down the motorways in an SUV (no tour bus here).
Losing A Friend: The Video
The band were about to release their first album in English, and the first single from it, a lovely ballad called ‘Losing A Friend’, needed a video, which naturally had to be shot in Iceland! It was an unusual experience as a music video producer, to film another producer going through the process. Iceland is certainly a beautiful, rugged country but the weather for the video shoot started bad and got worse! It was very cold.
The day started at Skogafoss, a breathtakingly beautiful waterfall. It was so windy the band had to have their hair done after almost every take, and additional crew leapt in with extra warm clothing. It was fairly gruesome. The waterfall, however, produced a beautiful rainbow and if I’d been the music video producer I would have wept for joy.
I was not a little envious at the size of the entourage, complete with catering coach, it must have cost a fortune. We relocated on a stretch of dramatic coastline, where the wind gusts were so bad, all personnel were advised not to walk any closer than 20 metres to the cliff edge. The coach literally shook from the force of the wind. During an interview with Camilla, she became quite emotional when talking about the song. Evidently she had very recently lost a loved one and this song had a bittersweet resonance for her.
NYLON gamely continued filming until horizontal snow decidedly brought an end to the day. Emergency Vodka supplies were passed around and driving back thought the dark night across a glacier I witnessed the majesty of the Northern lights. It was a moment I will never forget.
“I do like to be beside Westlife…”
From the sublime to Westlife. NYLON are a support act on the Westlife UK tour and we film the Brighton gig, and the lead-up as the band get to sample the British seaside, the pier, scenic railway and a fortune teller. I don’t recall the band having any fish’n’chips though. NYLON was well received by the Westlife fans. It was an odd moment to be following them from their dressing room as they left the venue. Westlife were sat around a table and watched my crew as we followed NYLON.
‘Losing A Friend makes it to the 40’s in the UK singles chart but what followed was a period of hiatus that I am genuinely unable to comment on. I decide to go ahead and edit a 60 minute documentary with the materials I already have, which seems to be well received. However, all manner of rumours reach us about what the future plans for NYLON will be. In the event, Emilia left the band, ostensibly to get married, and the remaining three re-named themselves The Charlies, with a raunchier image than the girl-next-door look of NYLON.
Whether anyone will ever get to see my documentary is uncertain (see promo here). I only have a DVD version.
Either way, I wish The Charlies well and especially thank Einar Bardarson and Ian Penman at New Media Law for the opportunity to work on the project.