Exclusive: Cloud Control releases ‘Panopticon’ music video

Cloud Control Panopticon music video

Words by Tara Smith

Taking control.

Sydney outfit Cloud Control has earnt its spot in the limelight.

The band just wrapped up a national tour in late 2017, following the release of its third album, Zone.

Now, Cloud Control has released the music video for ‘Panopticon’, a single which has amassed almost two million plays on Spotify.

The video, directed by Thomas Wilson-White, depicts a surveillance state of which we’ve all become accustomed to in the digital age. Shot in black and white, it’s reminiscent of an Orwellian future which might not be so far away.

Despite being a bandmate down (bass player Jeremy Kelshaw left in 2017) Cloud Control has cemented its spot as one of Australia’s most-loved up-and-coming bands. ‘Panopticon’ follows previous Zone hit singles including ‘Rainbow City and ‘Treetops’.

To celebrate the exclusive release of ‘Panopticon’, we sat down with vocalist Heidi Lenffer to discuss the video, touring and the last three years of Cloud Control.

Check out the clip and interview below.

Hi Heidi, Zone is your first album since the departure of Jeremy Kelshaw. What was it like writing it?

There were some adjustments to make, and we definitely felt the absence of Jez and his flair for song structure and driving the writing flow. It meant that [lead vocalist] Al stepped up on bass — which was great, and he brought his own flavour that often took the songs into unchartered groove territories.

This also meant that guitar parts were often written last. But I find there’s never a normal way to write music, so in some ways it wasn’t that disruptive as I feel like I’m learning how to write from scratch nearly every time I try.

Where did you write the album?

Various circumstances forced us to move four times over the course of three years – to our old headmaster’s house in the Blue Mountains, a country writer’s retreat near Nowra, a 7th-floor studio in Haymarket, and we first started writing Panopticon out of a makeshift studio we built opposite Redfern police station.

The original demo has hectic vibrations from the bus stop outside, and we ended up finishing the recording of this track in a beachy Airbnb near Forster.

What’s ‘Panopticon’ about?

‘Panopticon’ was partly inspired by the Edward Snowden documentary and learning that the US and UK governments were quietly creating archives of info about ordinary people — recording texts, emails, web searches, and geo-location data that showed where people went every two seconds.

My reaction was weird. I was appalled, but I still hung out on Facebook and it didn’t really change my behaviour, which forced me into an awareness of my own complacency about privacy rights…

It’s a little dig at my own conflicted opinion about government liberties and social media, and the impulse to be seen and the endless data collection that seems to be a prerequisite for participation in society.

What was the inspiration for the clip?

[Director] Tom and I were friends already and had wanted to collaborate on a clip one day. I pitched him the premise of the song and he responded with a 1970s espionage film concept based loosely on the film, The Conversation. We wanted to play with the idea of being watched and watching ourselves, and the spy vibes gave rise to excellent jackets and boots to play with.

‘Panopticon’ has almost two million plays on Spotify. Did you have any idea how well this track would perform when you released the album?

Not really — and the response has been an awesome surprise given it wasn’t originally a single contender. It was definitely a band favourite towards the end of the writing process ’cos it’s so much fun to play live. There’s usually a natural pecking order that the songs fall into before album release and it wasn’t really singled out by the wider family. I’m stoked that it found a home in so many great playlists and bedrooms.

Why do you think it has resonated so well with the audience?

Hard to say. Maybe for the same reasons we liked it — it’s a pretty weird song with guitar-y spy grooves that somehow works. It took me three complete re-writes but it wasn’t until I settled on the title ‘Panopticon’ that I started to have fun with the lyrics and it all fell into place quite easily.

The video is shot almost entirely vertically. Is there a reason you chose this particular shot?

This low angle was based off a reference shot from Tom from a fashion mag. I love how the balance of power shifts when the gaze is from far away or a different angle than eye level. The Conversation is full of shots from a distance that zoom in on an unaware protagonist.

You just wrapped up a national tour towards the end of 2017. What’s in store for 2018? 

We’ve got more touring plans in the pipeline as well as a show at Taronga Zoo with Julia Jacklin, which I’m particularly pumped for. Pretty honoured to share a stage with such an incredible artist, and Julia is from the Blue Mountains as well, so our meeting is a bit overdue.


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