Composer and musician HforSpirit and photographer Nick Hadfield find ritual power in rave during a jubilant retreat to an abandoned quarry with a band of club kid pilgrims in their debut short film, UnTyMe.
Back during the tail end of the Covid-19 pandemic composer and musician HforSpirit and photographer Nick Hadfield were, like the rest of us, longing for escape. They conceived of this an opportunity, not only to extract themselves from the psychic torment of months spent in quarantine, but also to rewrite the blueprint for more magical acts of celebration, separated from the commodified hedonism of London’s club scene they had both long grown weary of. Drawing together a shared interest in tracing the potency of the ritual energy of rave, connecting it back to pagan practices excavated from Anglo-Celtic folklore, the collaborators planned a retreat into the hills, to the post-industrial setting of Skull Quarry alongside a gathering of artists and friends. A short film, part documentary, part contemporary folklore, emerged.
“UnTyMe revealed a collective intention to find a new sense of belonging,” writes Nick Hadfield. “Prompted by feelings of dissociation from contemporary club culture, we sought out the ancient rhythms of the land. The making of this film became an exploration of ritual movement, symbols, and silhouettes inspired by the ancestral myths of Britain.” Working in collaboration with HforSpirit as first-time filmmakers, Hadfield captures their escape with the lush saturation of folk horror and the hazy blur of ’90s rave archives, positioning the film’s ravers as a band of contemporary pilgrims, bearing their sound system aloft like a sacred totem.
“Much like the old Irish adage it takes its name from, UnTyMe is a collaborative multimedia project that unravels further meanings with each reading,” says HforSpirit, who stars in the film and contributes its visceral, electro-acoustic score. “It has given rise to an exhibition series at The White Hotel, THEE BIRTH, exploring ritual participation and rave cults, as well as a forthcoming physical release of the music on Toothgrinder Press containing artefacts used in the film.” He continues, “the film itself is a fly on the wall of an invitation to dance – an overture that cadences with an unhinged crescendo into the action of life.”
Support from Emulsion Magazine
Featuring – HforSpirit, Salome Pressac, Jet Sweeney, Olivia Stewart, Olubiyi Thomas
Producer – Scarlett Anderson
Director of Photography – Milo Belgrove
Editing – Nick Hadfield, HforSpirit
Art Director – Molly Martinez Hackney
Art Assistant – Eleanor Jeffrey
Styling Assistant – Olivia Stewart
Hair – Chloe Frieda
Make Up – Siti Haval
Catering – Hayett Belarbi McCarthy
Percussion – James Larter
Female vocals – Zoe Bedeaux
Recording – Luke Gardner at The Studi/o, Manchester
Sound mix – HforSpirit, Bitter Gold, Alexander Green
Mastering – Tony Cousins at Metropolis Studios, London
Creative direction assistant – Mikey Opie O’Grady
Title – Jonathan Castro
Title animation – Ali Raybould
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