Two years ago, Glen Hansard, singer/guitarist for the Irish group The Frames, and Markéta Irglová, a teenaged classical pianist from the Czech Republic, starred in a small independent film about a busker (like Hansard himself) and an immigrant flower seller on the streets of Dublin. Director John Carney made the film, titled Once, for just $160,000. Hansard and Irglová wrote all the songs for the soundtrack. The film became a surprise hit. Hansard and Irglová won a 2007 Academy Award for Best Original Song, the hauntingly beautiful "Falling Slowly."
Cut to 2009: Hansard and Irglová, backed by The Frames, are playing sold-out shows under the name The Swell Season at legendary venues like Radio City Music Hall. The group recently released Strict Joy, their first album since the Once soundtrack. More complex and lush than their previous work but just as emotional and brutally honest, Strict Joy is an intimate, orchestral song cycle that brings them even further into the realm of the great singer-songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Joni Mitchell.
When Swell Season came to Oakland's Paramount Theater last month, I had the opportunity to interview Irglová and Hansard for Boing Boing Video. I found them both to be refreshingly grounded, humble, and incredibly gracious. They're the kind of people you want to invite home for dinner. I was thrilled that Glen and Mar agreed to perform several songs for our cameras, including an unreleased new song they wrote while on the road. The group performs tonight in Dublin. In January, they play in London, Glasgow, Manchester, and New York City.
Boing Boing has a number of people to thank for the magnificent quality of this video, starting with my dear friends Scott Compton and Bart Nagel. Scott took a break from his Chuck Prophet documentary and myriad other projects at Remedy Editorial to direct the piece. Bart and Chris Valente joined Scott in shooting it. The masterful Phil Perkins recorded the audio. Chris edited at Remedy with assistance from Jeffrey Boyette. Finally, thanks to John Tosch and Carrie Tolles for making it happen.