Making The Panda Masks

One of the great joys of writing a song is thinking about the visual story that will accompany it when the time is right to make a music video.. Film clip? What do they call them in these times?

From the moment Vertigo was created I knew that a big part of the message is dancing. That groove made me want to move from the moment JP and I played it. Vertigo is about the power to keep going when all you want to do is give up. It’s about the joy that we can find in the struggles of life. Nothing encapsulates joy more to me than a child dancing freely. The great fun they have discovering how their bodies can move and the way they allow music to infiltrate their spirit without fear or judgment is beautiful. I knew I wanted to capture that in the visuals for the song.

I imagined inspiring, fluid dancing! From a child, and also someone further along the journey of life. Someone who, when I saw them dance, made me want to dance! But I didn’t want it attached to identity. So much of what we do nowadays is based in identity. The need to be affirmed constantly from the outside is overwhelming at times, and it wasn’t aligned with the message of the song. We needed a way to express the joy without the attachment to self. It got me thinking further about all of this – how do we present ourselves to the world? Why do we do it in the ways we do? What are we so afraid of? What would we achieve if everything wasn’t so connected to a sense of self? Why do we wear so many masks? Masks! That is what the film clip needed. A couple of humans dancing in masks. As soon as this was realised I knew just the place to find the right mask.

I discovered Wintercroft Masks on Instagram. Scrolling through one day, I was instantly drawn to the incredible craftsmanship of the masks and had been waiting for an excuse to make and use one. The panda was the perfect choice. I always feel calm when I watch pandas. They seem wise, peaceful and humorous! This would be perfect. Steve Wintercroft designs the most incredible, template based designs for anyone to make at home! They are intricate but very makeable and their website and instructions take you through how to make them, step by step.

It became clear as pre production began that I wouldn’t need just one mask, I’d need 4! And a smaller one too. I downloaded the template, printed the paper as per the instructions and set about making them. I sat in the sun at my dining table. Thinking, listening to music, concentrating. I imagined the art we were about to create. The great unknown, stretched out in front of me was exciting. Piece by piece, each mask came together. Cutting and gluing and pressing, I felt like I was creating a symbol. A symbol of joy, of change, and of fun! Each mask took me about 4 hours to complete. My week was filled with mask making. It was pretty much all I thought about. The satisfaction of completing was big. Each mask was a work of art. Paper and glue folded into the most beautiful image.

When I was finally able to try it on the little panda, it was transformative. The extraordinary design of the masks makes them look as if they are animated, right before your eyes. She danced freely around the room to Vertigo, and I knew something special was being born.

From that moment on, the masks were treated with great reverence. Chauffeured to the shoot and handled gently because they were about to perform a very special part.

This Wintercroft Panda mask became the perfect symbol for Vertigo.

Timeless, Joyful, Elegant, Inspired and Fun!