(31) Independent Love Song
For one long humid day in summer ’94 in Times Square, with the odd torrential rainstorm bucketing down on the thousands swarming through that centre-of-the-world intersection, I inhabited a sealed-off bubble of a music-video shoot, where two quiet and charming young women from Hull dominated the grand space of towers and Avenues, through the shoot’s top-volume playback of “Independent Love Song”—their band’s biggest hit, as it would turn out. For one intense day there, around the apex of Scarlet’s five-year lifespan, they both sat serene on a tall piano amid the crowds (having never set foot in the USA until late the previous evening), calmly miming for hours to their own gigantic playback … while a great violence of on-set power-politics raged around them, between the director Marcus Nispel (who went on to direct mainstream Hollywood features) and some of the crew.
Meanwhile, wearing my best black leather mini-skirt, I played one of Cupid’s targets: first, flitting among the multitudes, rather to the multitudes’ bemusement; and then in the close-up kissing shots, for which Nispel’s expert hands steered the back of my head in a micro-calibrated control of the framing throughout each take, while the black-and-white celluloid rolled.
Between shots, I was a glad little groupie of Scarlet there, under the tarpaulin where we sheltered from the rain. I hope life has treated them both kindly since they disbanded in ’97. There isn’t much about them online, but somebody’s set up a sweet little fan site here, with a few cute mid-’90s shots of Cheryl (vocals) and Joe (piano) here.
I only appear now and again, and the VHS copy that I was given had almost disintegrated into flickery dropout-streaked unplayability before I got round to digitising it in ’06 or ’07. However, my sound-memory of one particular part of the song has remained accessible in me ever since that day—its soaring chorus (hear it loud through headphones), whose glorious transcendent celebration of freedom from oppressive traditional expectations was belted upwards by Cheryl most joyfully towards the tops of those Midtown skyscrapers. (3’49”)
(See video here.)