The Sirens of Titan | "Leave A Light On" Film Debut

John-Paul Pryor premieres thrilling short film for the band's recent single

Written by

Annie Bush

Photographed by

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Styled by

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SUNSPEL top, MARC JACOBS glasses, SANDRA, THE CRYSTAL LADY pearl necklace, MARCO DE LUCA necklace, and talent’s own rosary.

Today, conceptual rock band The Sirens of Titan debut the film for their single, “Leave A Light On,” premiering exclusively with FLAUNT. Visually delving into psychological paralysis in the new short film directed by the band’s singer-songwriter John-Paul Pryor, the film follows a woman stuck somewhere in the midst of insomnia and a dream, grappling for a sense of reality within whirls of illusion. With cinematography by Jez Leather, Pryor describes the film as a “dark meditation on isolation, lost love and the classical notion of the doppelgänger.” 

Someone once described reading The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut’s sophomore novel, as an experience akin to “having a luxury room at a beach-side hotel, with an oversized picture window covered by a curtain. You know there’s something special waiting on the other side, but you can’t see it with the drapes in the way.” This promise of a truth behind that heavy veil, Vonnegut’s refusal to luxuriate in his own ideas, makes for a frustrating experience for some, but seems to be a gloriously inspirational one for John-Paul Pryor and his band of the same name.

Leave A Light On,” precedes the band’s full album Age of Treason, which will be available on all platforms on August 25th with Atlantic Curve Records, featuring cover artwork by British Artist Wolfe von Lenkiewicz.

FLAUNT spoke with John-Paul Pryor about his creative process, long-time inspirational influences, and what it means to imagine.

Can you tell me a bit about the creation of “Leave A Light On” – what was the initial inspiration and the creative process? 

I wanted to make something very simple for the song that communicated the sense of someone feeling trapped in eternal return. "Leave A Light On" as a song is very much to do with a negative emotional spiral, suicidal ideation and the idea that a soul can be broken, or too heavy for the body to carry. I was thinking how best to convey that visually, and looking at lots of films that portray a breakdown of identity. I would say the inspirational jump-off point was early Polanski, and quite specifically Repulsion, but I wanted to blend my love for that classic with a reverie upon a past love affair with a mysterious other, and also explore that quite schizophrenic idea of being replaced by a doppelgänger.

The film for this track is thrilling, Lynchian, paying homage to some of the culture's greatest psychological noir films. What made you decide on this aesthetic for "Leave A Light On"–what draws you to it, and what about it do you think allows for such powerful storytelling? 

It’s exciting for me that you describe it as Lynchian, because, again, if someone knows film then they will get some very specific references in there, and Lynch is such a huge influence artistically. I think when it comes to mystery and storytelling it always comes back to the old adage that less is more, especially if you want to look at the existential mysteries at the core of being that are so key to the noir genre. I tend to watch a lot of very old films, and I feel like, at its best, black and white film still conveys something that engages the intellect in a different way to colour, and allows cinematic space for a dreamlike ambiguity. If you think of a film like Persona for example, it contains a stark kind of darkness and sparse simplicity that could never be achieved, or indeed be as effective, in colour. Reaching for that aesthetically is what was in my mind with "Leave A Light On." The cinematography is brilliantly helmed by my writing partner in The Sirens Jez Leather, and we have always been absolutely aligned that we aspire for film to be set to our music, rather than produce performative music videos per se. I think we have achieved that with "Leave A Light On," and with the previous two films for "Dark Heart Beating" and "Jupiter’s Son," by Katja Mayer and Skyler Wakil, respectively.

The “Leave A Light On” film is your musical directorial debut–as a long-time creator/creative, how did this venture differ from your previous works in the creative field? How was it similar? What different parts of your imagination were required for its completion? 

Well, I’ve made a couple of documentaries before, and some more commercially focused work, but I guess I just felt the time was right to direct something closer to my sense of being as an artist, and that is something that has been calling to me for some time. It’s also an exciting evolution of my creative partnership with Jez, which feels very naturally as if it is moving more towards expression in both sound and vision. I guess in terms of imagination, I just felt the time was right to engage visually and really draw on my knowledge of film. "Leave A Light On" is the first in a series of films Jez and I intend to make together for this album, and beyond. We intend to shoot a feature, in good time.

FAVOURBROOK jacket, SUNSPEL top, vintage LEVI’S jeans, MARC JACOBS glasses, vintage ALL SAINTS belt, MARCO DE LUCA necklace, THE GREAT FROG bracelet, and talent’s own rosary.

Given the band name, you seem to be a fan of Kurt Vonnegut. What do you admire about him, and how does his work influence your creative identity? 

This is a great question, because it is so hard to answer. I love Vonnegut, and the book from which the band takes its name just really broke my head open as a kid. I guess what I most admire in that book, and all of his work, is the sense of a random sequential universe underpinned by a wonderfully absurdist sense of cause and effect. There is also a tremendous humanity in his writing, and a sense of the power of love and art. I suppose what chimes with me, in terms of my own creative identity, is sharing a sense of reality being a kind of chaos of events that we all navigate as best we can. I often think of life as something akin to floating about on The Raft of The Medusa.

What was essential for the completion of the Age of Treason? Were there any people, places, things, or ideas that you found yourself consistently coming back to?

Age of Treason felt a bit Sisyphean at times - the rock kept rolling back, and there were various hurdles and false starts to overcome, not to mention the global pandemic, which delayed completion. I guess what was truly essential was the sense of perseverance we shared, and that we would get there in the end. We just really wanted to get this music into the world. In terms of coming back to ideas, I always come back to wanting to create a sense of elevation, if that makes any sense? The songs tend to reflect my own relationship to the real, my feelings on love and temporality, and quite often my struggles with depression. I would say thematically those tend to be re-occurring things I come back to.

How do you keep your imagination alive?

Honestly, I think imagination is tied to hope in some way. I think you have to believe in something to be truly imaginative. I know for a fact that my own creativity flourishes when I am clear, positive and at my healthiest physically. But, having said that, it wouldn’t exist at all without the flip-side of despondency, and darkness–those days you just have to pull yourself through. I suppose that dichotomy is there in most artists, though–I’m certainly not unique in ricocheting between two states of being. In many ways, actually, I guess this film could be said to reflect my state of mind in those darker moments

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN coat, FRED PERRY vest, MARC JACOBS glasses, SANDRA, THE CRYSTAL LADY pearl necklace, MARCO DE LUCA necklace, THE GREAT FROG bracelet, and model’s own rosary.

Listen to “Leave A Light On” here.

"Leave A Light On" Short Film:

Directed by John-Paul Pryor

Cinematography by Jez Leather 

Starring: Victoria Valcheva & Rita Vikers

John-Paul Pryor Portraiture:

Photographed by Andrew Hobbs

Styled by William Gilchrist

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The Sirens of Titan, Annie Bush, Music, Leave A Light On, John-Paul Pryor