Dan Cadan On Working With Noel Gallagher, Goldie, And Stephen Graham

Dan Cadan On Working With Noel Gallagher, Goldie, And Stephen Graham

The story of the Oasis icon's new video 'Wandering Star'...

Noel Gallagher has always had a knack for connecting with people.

Oasis classics such as 'Live Forever' and 'Don't Look Back In Anger' are part of the nation's fabric, while his solo material is dearly loved by fans.

New single 'Wandering Star' is as close as we might ever come to a Noel Gallagher festive moment, with those chiming sounds closely resembling sleigh bells.

Director Dan Cadan has struck up a close relationship with the guitarist, and he was asked to create a music video in keeping with the spirit of the song.

Rising to the challenge, he recruited acclaimed This Is England actor Stephen Graham to play a Santa Claus on the edge, with Hannah Walters also appearing in the video.

A bold, moving, and incredibly timely video, 'Wandering Star' focusses on the pressures working families are under at Christmas, while laying bare the bonds that remain between people.

Clash spoke to Dan Cadan about the clip, his current projects, and the importance of platforming working class voices in the arts.

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How did the 'Wandring Star' video come about?

To be honest, I’m not sure if Noel intended to release a Christmas song. But the minute I heard it, I thought: well, we’ve got to do something about about Christmas! And it couldn’t be like a John Lewis ad, and it couldn’t be anti-Christmas. We wanted to make something that’s on a middle ground, that should be relatable to most people.

It’s about doing whatever you can so that your kids can appreciate Christmas. There’s a lot of pressure on people, as we all know, at this time of year, especially through advertising. Everything is about spend, spend, spend. This commercialism, this social belief that we have to do this, all obscures the spirit of Christmas, in a way.

I’m an adult, I’ve got kids, and the pressure is way beyond what it should be. So when I heard the track I knew we had to do something nice and emotive.

Stevie Graham and myself met when we made Snatch, and we’ve been best mates for about 20 years. And Hannah, his wife, who is in the video as well. It was a no-brainer, for me, to try and get him. But he’s so busy right now.

I’ll do whatever I can with Steve, he’s kind of like my muse, really – my little Scouse muse! And he was up for it, so it was making it work, day-wise and time-wise. That day he also had to shoot in the evening on another series of Save Me, so we literally had him until 4.30pm that day.

But if you get him you’re on to a winner because Stephen – and Hannah – bring so much to the day, in terms of ideas, how they work things out. When you’ve got them together it’s exactly what collaboration should be, it’s exactly what you want to portray your story. 

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Are you responding to the music when you create something like this, or is it separate?

To be honest, there’s a point in that song, when the second set of bells come in, and that part made me feel: something big, something emotional has to happen there. So we put the slow motion run of them coming out of the shop there. That was in my head from the beginning. Bits of a bad Santa shot for the first opening bells. Those were the two ideas that I had.

Then the story develops – and to be honest, I listened to the song once, and immediately thought of the story. But then it was a case of the lyrics… and I hadn’t really heard them, until I watched the video back on the first cut. And thought: bloody hell, there’s such a correlation! It was quite accidental. And I’m very happy for that.

Do you tend to work fairly quickly, then?

Normally. I come from a film background, and I like to tell a story. I don’t mind shooting a performance video if it’s someone like Noel. My heart and soul need to be in everything I do – I like it, knowing that I’m committed to something, and it’s difficult to do that with a performance video. Unless it’s a band that you hold in high adulation… because they’re boring to shoot!

I want to tell a story and obviously you can do that with ‘Wandering Star’. I like marrying and syncing music up, and it’s the same thing with a music video. It’s almost like doing a trailer, sometimes. Especially with ‘Wandering Star’ as it could be a 30 minute short – you could easily fill in the blanks and make it into a film, turning it into a journey and seeing them do more things.

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You and Stephen Graham go back a long way.

Yep! We met on Snatch 20 years ago. We did a short film recently, all told in rhyme. Rhyming dialogue. We’re pals! This came about because he had a break in the day of filming – he came and did it, and then he was shooting at night. He did it for himself, for his wife, and for me. That’s who he is – if he likes it, then he’ll do it.

In my opinion he’s the best actor working in Britain. He’s overtaken everybody. I feel like with the age he’s at, he’s now surpassed everybody.

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This is the third video you’ve made with Noel Gallagher, what allows your approach to link so well with his music?

It’s a funny old amalgamation, this. It came about through Scully (real name Jonathan Mowatt), who co-directs these music videos. He’s an old mate of Noel’s, and ‘Black Star Dancing’ - the video we did in a social club – that was Scully’s idea. He had the idea, but he doesn’t come from that world, so he came to me.

I’ve known Noel for a while – we’re not super tight mates, but we’re mates – and both Scully and I are close, so we said: look, let’s try and do this! So we shot a test, and we actually used Bob Marley and the Wailers from the Old Grey Whistle Test, and put them in the Wheeltappers. It looked great!

That’s what Noel loved, and he said: look, I want to do it. And because he loved it so much, and because the process was easy for him… he’s renowned for not being a massive fan of music videos. I found out the night before I was about to shoot one with him, I watched a little documentary and he was deriding every single Oasis video they’d ever done in a very funny way.

They’re often very boring for bands to be in.

The first day on ‘Black Star Dancing’ we shot him for about four hours, then we did some separate shots of the band… and he stuck around for about two hours afterwards, because he just wanted to hang out. And I thought: we’ve done it, we’ve cracked it!

So they asked us to do the next one, which he loved. Then he asked us to do ‘Wandering Star’, and he loved that. And we’ll do ‘Blue Moon Rising’ in January… which to be honest I think is a phenomenal track. One of the best he’s ever done.

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You’re working with Goldie, as well.

It’s a new drama. A truly urban This Is England, wrapped around a crime story, wrapped around a very respectful and honest depiction of mental illness. Most people I know suffer from one. It’s semi-autobiographical. He isn’t in it, but it’s an idea he’s had for 25 years. Imagine Goldie – the person and artist he is – not being able to get an idea out… for 25 years?! It’s like a ball in a whistle, rattling around his head.

We actually met through Snatch, as well, and we bumped into each other last year, and spoke about this. It went from a favour to a passion project to something real.

I genuinely love this story. It’s set in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and it feels tough – like Joker or French Connection. And of course, the soundtrack will be great. I’m writing the first two episodes, and I’ve done the series bible, so we’ll see where it ends up. We’ve not gone to a broadcaster yet, because we’ve been backed to write it. So, we’ll write it, and then speak to broadcasters. We’ll see where it goes.

It's called Sine Tempore. It’s latin for ‘without time’ and this mental illness is called Temporal Lode Dysfunction. It’s where you’ve got no concept of episodic memory. So from a story perspective it’s quite exciting, as you can go forwards in time, backwards in time, wherever you want.

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You’ve worked with the likes of Madonna, but it seems you get most fired up when focussing on working class British life.

Absolutely. I worked with Madonna and Will.i.am and to be honest, I’ve worked the same way with them as I do with the streets we’re going to find on the streets to shoot Sine Tempore. I think that’s why I get the work. I’m more starstruck by Noel, than Madonna.

It seems like working class voices in the arts are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

I’m in total agreement with you. For example, with Sine Tempore, Stephen Graham will play the good cop, but we’ve got to find kids for this story, who have got an anger about them, that have lived life. Even at 14 or 15, it’s people who have survived in a place where the odds are against you. And I don’t actually know what we can do apart from keep giving them voices.

It’s like with Netflix or the BBC – they are more and more voices on there, but they’re just being put on there, it’s not being celebrated. And what about a gig? You could almost do a Live Aid style thing for that, with everyone being working class, because that would get a lot of press. A lot of publicity. Open to everybody, but all working class musicians.

Maybe people don’t consider working class culture enough. I’d love a way to celebrate that. I love working class culture. Stephen Graham is a working class hero. Noel Gallagher is a working class hero. John Lennon wrote those words… and it really is something to be, isn’t it?

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