Lampwork is the duo’s debut release. It’s a collection of warm art-pop with emotive melodies and surreal folk lyrics with an accompanying limited-edition book of artworks by Vivien. Available as a CD with digital download plus a short run of lathe-cut vinyl singles.
Blew the Veils is a new musical and visual collaboration between Scottish artist Vivien McDermid and Icelandic singer-songwriter Benedikt H. Hermannsson.
This autumn, McDermid and Hermannsson will let the album’s ten songs and accompanying imagery loose into the world by way of a live lo-fi pop/art show, where sound and vision collude in a kaleidoscopic fusion of colour.
The events will see Hermannsson leading a four-piece band, who will perform the album in an immersive environment created by McDermid.
Blew the Veils will occupy a new world for each performance, as they evoke the fantastical intimacy of each song by way of a multi-dimensional pastel-coloured canvas.
”Vivien and I started working together when I lived in Edinburgh,” Hermannsson explains. “I met her and her partner through mutual friends, and I asked them to make the cover for my Benni Hemm Hemm album, Skot. A video for the song Retaliate also came out of that collaboration, which was super fun, especially because they had never made a video before. It’s like an animated painting, and I love it.”
The pair kept in touch and eventually decided to start a project together. As Blew the Veils, they developed Lampwork organically. More than two years on, the project has grown into a work of lustrous beauty.
“We didn’t know if it would be a visual art project exhibited in galleries or if we would be making films or radio programmes or what have you,” says Hermannsson. “We really didn’t know what we wanted to do, and we didn’t have any plans at all, but we just started working, and a very natural working method unfolded.”
The roots of this stem from McDermid’s multi-faceted approach to painting, which sees her incorporate clay, wood, fabric and found objects into her experiments.
McDermid describes what sometimes resembles stills from some arcane folk tale as “a sensory conversation between myself and the materials, where colour and landscape often lead the way towards unexpected pictorial ideas.”
“Painting, for me, is an act of searching:” she says, “digging for something tangible within my compulsive daydreams. It’s a place where the universes of hope, experience and anxiety meet. The taste and bite of colour and landscape are very often my starting points: dark forests, mint choc chip ice cream, ghostly flowers at night. I look deeply, then paint from memory. I like to feel a painting arrive from somewhere behind me.”
While instinctive in her approach, McDermid found herself surprised by words floating to the surface. These evocative everyday fantasias were woven into lyrics.
“She sends me words,” says Hermannsson, “anything from scribbles to complete typewritten lyric sheets, and I write music to them. For me, this is a luxurious way of working because it happens without any effort. Then I take the songs to the studio and work on them for weeks or months, with other musicians coming in.”
Parts of Lampwork have already flown the nest.
“Vivien used one of our tracks in an exhibition alongside her works, and now we are bringing it all to the stage.”
Paintings and videos by McDermid will form a big part of the Blew the Veils live show.
“We want it to be a fifty/fifty mix,” says Hermannsson, “half concert, half visual experience.”
Blew the Veils are Vivien McDermid and Benedikt H. Hermannsson, accompanied by Emily Scott (double-bass & vocals), Owen Williams (drums), and L.T.Leif (guitar, keyboards & vocals).
Blackford Hill will publish a limited-edition book by McDermid and Hermannsson to accompany the release of Lampwork. A short-run of lathe-cut vinyl singles will be available alongside the album’s release on CD and digital download.
Vivien McDermid is a painter and songwriter based in Edinburgh.
Recent exhibitions include ‘Over Under Winter Summer’ at Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh and the group show ‘Chorus’ at Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh.
“McDermid’s paintings are the physical manifestation of a curious mind. They are ethereal and truly captivating, transporting the viewer into a dark and playful world” Susie Brown, Founder of TRADE artists residency
Based in Iceland, Benedikt H. Hermannsson’s band Benni Hemm Hemm has toured widely, written music for theatre plays and performed at art festivals and all kinds of happenings worldwide.
The band have released ten albums (written and produced by Benedikt) to critical acclaim… “Whispy, ruminative strums with brass, strings, and fiercely emotive rhythms.” Pitchfork
“Hearty brass sugared with glockenspiel and Hawaiian-whine guitar — that evoked both the ragged glories of Broken Social Scene and the sunshine prospect of Brian Wilson conducting a troupe of Salvation Army horns at a 1967 Smile session.” Rolling Stone Magazine