KEYBOARD FANTASIES: THE BEVERLY GLENN-COPELAND STORY
As a sci-fi obsessed woman living in near isolation, Beverly Glenn-Copeland wrote and self released Keyboard Fantasies in Huntsville, Ontario in 1986. Recorded in an Atari-powered home-studio, the cassette featured seven tracks of a curious folk-electronica hybrid, a sound realised far before its time.
Three decades on, the musician – now Glenn Copeland – began to receive emails from people across the world, thanking him for the music they’d recently discovered. Courtesy of a rare-record collector in Japan, a reissue of Keyboard Fantasies and subsequent plays by Four Tet, Caribou and more, the music finally found its audience two generations down the line.
Our film Keyboard Fantasies tells the time-travelling story of this talented musician and vocalist, as the present finally catches up with him and he embarks on his first global tour at the age of 74. Capturing five decades of relentless musical output and shifting manifestations of gender and sexual identity set against a backdrop of profound social change, the film celebrates the unpredictable rhythms of life.
Dan Snaith of Caribou on the music of Keyboard Fantasies:
“There have only been a few times in my life when hearing a piece of music for the first time has literally stopped me in my tracks – when I've heard something simultaneously so elemental and so new that I can feel my idea of how music can speak to us expanding. That's how it was, under the inauspicious circumstances of trawling YouTube for forgotten music a few years ago, when I heard ‘Ever New’ for the first time. Those undulating waves of synthesiser... and floating over them THAT VOICE and THOSE WORDS. How could music that beautiful have been forgotten for so long? Since then I've been evangelical about Keyboard Fantasies – telling everyone and anyone who will listen. It is still the album that plays most often around our home. I think the greatest compliment that I can think of for music is that it seems eternal – that once you hear it, it’s impossible to imagine that it hasn’t always existed and that it always will. For me Keyboard Fantasies has that quality.”
Have a listen while you read a little more...
The film Keyboard Fantasies inhabits the identity and life experience of our protagonist Glenn Copeland, soundtracked by his remarkable back catalogue of work. The 30-minute documentary is a three-act tale, each act informed by the aesthetic of its time:
- Act I: Through storytelling and archive, we learn of Beverly’s idyllic musical childhood in Philadelphia, contrasted against a period of brutal discrimination endured as an out African-American lesbian at university in Montreal.
- Act II: Music leads the narrative as we look back on Beverly’s prolific yet largely unknown career as a stage-shy musician, composer and children’s TV star.
- Act III: We land in the present, a fly-on-the-wall as Glenn embarks on an international tour accompanied by a new generation of musicians, performing Keyboard Fantasies live – and across Europe – for the first time.
A third person narrator – voiced by Glenn – will guide us through a tale both deeply personal and hugely profound, grounded in testimonies, archive materials, found footage, and interviews, dusted with a touch of magical realism.
WHY THIS FILM MATTERS (DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT)
I first heard Keyboard Fantasies on NTS Radio in 2017, and the record became my go-to comfort in times of insomnia, fatigue or stress. Strangely, everyone I encountered who knew the record felt exactly the same. After a long fruitless search for more music by this master of melody, I found my way to Glenn delivering a lecture at Red Bull Music Academy Montreal. Watching him mimic the unique dancing styles of his West African and Native Canadian ancestors to a room of enraptured and hungover twenty-year-olds, I decided I needed to know more.
A year of long and lively Skype calls followed as Glenn and I explored how we might work together. Glenn had written Keyboard Fantasies alone, looping takes from various synthesisers, so had never played the music live. Initially, he was reticent to revisit the music of his past, yet as time went on and more and more young people from around the world started getting in touch, he changed tack and formed an ensemble of young artists (Indigo Rising) with whom to share his music with the world.
A few months later – after receiving a chance cancellation fee from a commercial job – I decided to put things into motion and got on a plane to Nova Scotia, to meet with Glenn and see if I could find the makings of a film.
Spending a week with Glenn confirmed my suspicions that his was a story that needed to be told. Glenn has a profoundly enlightened understanding of the bigger constructs we allow to rule our lives – gender, time, space, identity – wisdom learned through the challenges he has faced in the past. To hear such timely sentiments coming from a radiant 74 year-old man (an “elder”, as he calls himself), is both a comfort and an inspiration.
The music of Keyboard Fantasies has already touched record collectors around the world, and I hope that with the assistance of this film, Glenn’s music and story will reach so many more.
WHERE WE’RE AT
During our time in Nova Scotia, we shot a Twin Peaks-inspired music video for cult classic ‘Ever New’, alongside additional session performances of ‘Sunset Village’ and ‘Let Us Dance’. Our intention was to create pieces that would help share Glenn’s reemergence with the world.
During this trip, we also shot the first of two master interviews with Glenn, alongside several documentary scenes including Glenn revisiting the first correspondence he received from Japan about the rediscovery of Keyboard Fantasies – some of which you can watch in the taster tape below:
WHERE WILL OUR KICKSTARTER FUNDS GO?
To date, we have self funded this project, reinvesting money made via commercial work. However, as we uncovered Glenn’s story, the scope of the project grew and we now would like to raise a second wave of funding.
Contributions will cover:
- Expenses to shoot the third act of the film in November 2018 across London and Europe. This includes Glenn’s biggest performance to date at Le Guess Who? festival, and interviews with contemporary musicians, filmmakers and poets touched by Glenn’s music.
- A Canadian producer and camera operator to conduct interviews with academics in Montreal, producers who worked on Beverly’s first record, and contemporary Canadian artists on whose work Glenn has had the greatest impact.
- Licensing of archival footage regarding LGBT+ rights and struggles during the 1960s and 1970s, from Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Post-production costs: edit, grade, and sound mix in London from November through January.
LUCA, the ‘Last Universal Common Ancestor’. LUCA is an independent production company based in London. We produce documentaries, both series and shorts, that endeavour to add to conversations and open up new avenues of thought, drawing unexpected parallels between the arts, history and science.
- Director: Posy Dixon has been producing and directing documentaries for VICE, Dazed, Vogue, Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide for the past decade. A tomboy to the core, she’s had a long-standing interest in performances of gender and sexuality and relating power dynamics that ensue. That combined with a tendency to obsess over one album at a time led to the discovery of the Keyboard Fantasies story, and a blossoming Skype turned IRL friendship with Glenn.
- Producer: Liv Proctor has made documentaries for the likes of VICE, The FADER, The Business of Fashion, and BBC Three, working closely with artists including Dua Lipa, Sampha and Craig David. With a longstanding background in the arts, she has been naturally drawn towards film projects which aim to explore the mystical intersections and interactions between music, history and the visual arts.
- DOP: Kevin A Fraser
- Editor: Tim Beeston
Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Indigo Rising:
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
- Support the film directly by making a pledge to this Kickstarter campaign.
- Spread the word! Share this page and help us tell Glenn’s story.
- See Glenn and Indigo Rising perform on tour throughout Europe in November: 4th Cafe Oto, London // 10th Sonic City Festival, Kotrijk // 11th Le Guess Who? Festival, Utrecht // 15th Supersonic Jazz Festival, Amsterdam // 17th Dampfzentrale, Bern.
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Risks and challenges
We're a hard grafting and passionate small team with over a decade's filmmaking experience behind us, so this project is in safe hands.
We've spent over a year building a relationship with Glenn, and every part of our filmmaking journey has been collaborative, ensuring minimal challenges and the lowest possible risk across the board.
There is very little risk in this project - just a whole lot of love.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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