The film, directed by Antony Crook, will premiere at South by Southwest in March
The first trailer for If the Stars Had a Sound, the forthcoming documentary about the Scottish band Mogwai, is cloaked in a feeling somewhere in between serenity and unease. The documentary — which will premiere at South by Southwest in March — originally began as a short film about leaving Scotland but, over time, morphed into an examination of how Mogwai reflects the same dichotomy between light and dark as their home country does.
“Scottland is a country of binaries. You see them everywhere. You go to Glasgow, it’s Celtics or Rangers. West End or East End. And then there’s Glasgow or Edinburgh,” the preview’s voiceover says, setting the scene while comparing the country to Jekyll and Hyde or Cain and Abel. “Then you’ve got the Scots who are very reticent and quiet and shy. And you’ve got the Scots, when you get a drink in them, that are just wild revelers.”
He continues: “And all these things are contained in the culture that comes out of that country. You see it in the art, and you see it in the storytelling, and you see it in the music. I think Mogwai are the best example of that — that dual nature. Waring sides of human nature. The light and the dark are always there, clashing and bouncing off each other in Mogwai’s music.”
The band celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2020, which is also when the documentary began to take shape as Mogwai recorded their latest studio album while in lockdown during the pandemic. Filmed and directed by longtime collaborator Antony Crook, If the Stars Had a Sound chronicles the rise of Mogwai from their early beginnings to their establishment as a post-rock cult staple.
“We’re incredibly excited for people to see Antony’s film If the Stars Had a Sound,” Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite shared in a statement. “It originally started as a short film around leaving Scotland to record in upstate New York in early 2020 but when the pandemic happened that all changed. Both ourselves and Antony persevered with the record and the film throughout the pandemic with the film growing throughout. Antony’s film tells the story of how we all came out the other side. I think he’s made something truly special.”
The documentary features archival footage captured over the last two and a half decades of the band, including during the recording process for As the Love Continues, which arrived in 2021. A synopsis for the film reads: “Over 25 years and 10 studio albums—using brute sonic force mixed with subtlety and grace—Mogwai have defined their own musical genre and built a loyal following by staying true to their sound and true to their roots.”