You might as well get in the mood. Close the windows of your office, disable your notifications, and start loading the video. You can even dim the lights. Set the video in full screen mode, put on a good set of headphones, and immerse yourself in the music for 30 minutes.
No doubt you will then feel the intensity of the experience. Those eight hours spent underground with Saul Williams. Off we go.
It was Saul that came to us with something specific in mind: he wanted to do a movie under the city, in the catacombs of Paris. The “real ones”, the ones that are hard and illegal to access. The ones without guides or stacked up skulls simply there for show. He hoped we were crazy enough to follow him underground. And we were.
François recruited one of his catacomb-lover friends and we bought the required equipment. François and Colin went off on a half a day of spotting and preparing the location and tried to figure out how the crew would survive… We were alas ready to take Saul and his musicians with us.
Those galleries sure are unwelcoming. They are cold and as damp as they get. Most of them are flooded, others are just wide enough to thread your way through. You need to climb, to duck, to bend yourself, walk for hours knee high in water with your frontal flashlight for only guide.
You need to fight cramps, get your equipment through an opening before painfully following it in, walk in pitch black and when you eventually discover a larger room, take a deep breath… and play.
In this claustrophobic, dark atmosphere, the build, the presence and the voice of Saul Williams are enhanced. His howling echoes, his gaze is penetrating, his voice is composed when he goes into an impro as powerful as a sermon. When only the dimming light of a mass of candles remains, when the crew is beat and embarks in the peaceful conclusion of this journey during a calm and restful song, the power can still be felt. It is diffuse. Saul inspires rest.
Voilà, show’s over. 30 minutes. Freedom. They had been there for eight hours.
Translated by Helena Kaschel