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First Watch: Banda Magda, 'Ce Soir'

As this summer lopes towards its inevitable close, we're still hankering for one last dose of a day at the beach: bright, sunny, full of daytime languor and the tantalizing promise of a fabulous night. And what sates that desire perfectly is the totally charming tune "Ce Soir" ("Tonight"), from the New York-based group Banda Magda.

The band is fronted by Greek singer and composer Magda Giannikou, an artist who fires on all artistic cylinders. Her own musical output spans everything from this breezy French-Brazilian hybrid to a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet, to composing music for (and singing with) Louis CK. But she also co-directed this video with Greek filmmaker Ilias Papaioannou, who lives in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

They shot "Ce Soir" last month at a beach in northern Greece, on the Chalkidiki peninsula — on (what else) but a perfect summer day. "A little bit of blue, a little bit of red/Tonight, we're painting love/Black and gray are forbidden," Giannikou sings in French. Those reds and blues are just the colors that pop out from the brilliant blaze of late-afternoon sun that Giannikou and Papaioannou managed to capture.

"In my head, I had always visualized this song in a seaside setting, really capturing the beauty of the Greek coastline," Giannikou explains by email. "Ilias suggested a technique called lens whacking, where you detach the lens from the camera so that light can flare between the lens and the sensor."

"We had everything," co-director Papaioannou writes in an email. "The magic hour, a beautiful Greek beach in Kallikrateia, and the lens whacking technique. It's a very creative technique that gave us the picture we wanted. It has several limitations and risks, especially when you are shooting almost into the sea and climbing rocks with a lens that is not attached to the camera; your hands aren't free at all. And this technique doesn't really work with direct sunlight, so we had something like one-and-a-half hours around the time of sunset — the magic hour — to finish everything. And the painting began. The song and the place were the tempo and the chords, and I was improvising by painting with colors in motion."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.