Buffalo band Rabbit Jaw just sent along music video. I asked lead singer Erin Bahn to answer a few questions pertaining to the song/video.
How long did it take you to dream this up, or was it a vision?
I wrote the words and melody of the song. John G. Brady added the beautiful guitar for our recording of the song which took place on February 25, 2017. Initially, I sang the melody along with a rhythm option on my electric keyboard called Viennese Waltz. I selected this rhythmic option because it sounded reminiscent of something from a Weimar Era cabaret.
I imagined some kind of sparkling revolutionary artistic life coming up against an oppressive time wherein an end of life is on a dark horizon- like a Weimar Era cabaret performer drifting into the ether as so many beautiful people did due to the brutality of Nazi Germany. But then there is this fierce feeling within me that we as people and artists creating our world, we must resist oppressive forces and that no matter what happens this spirit of resistance never really dies. No matter what human beings face- this spirit of struggle against oppression never ends.
As Eugene Debs said “No strike has ever been lost.” I was also inspired by a quote attributed to a union organizer named Joe Hill who is believed to have stated with regard to his own impending death by execution: “Don’t mourn- Organize!”
What was the inspiration?
My inspiration to write this song came out of a desire to combat our current right wing government administration and its nationalist, anti immigrant and racist policies toward humanity. Beyond this current U.S. administration, we are facing a global shift toward nationalism which gives rise to dehumanizing brutality against minorities, women, the LGBTQ community, journalists and artists. We must take collective action to assert our rights here. Freedom isn’t free. Freedom is a breathing, changing, collectively determined, mode of living together created through a balance of resistance and acceptance. If we accept abuse by authoritarian regimes, we shall be oppressed. If we resist, we may be hurt or perhaps killed.
Sometimes, out of fear, we choose to accept oppression in forms and amounts that we think we can live with. For instance, if someone else is being oppressed or hurt, but we ourselves can keep living our regular life, perhaps we can rationalize this abuse of power and accept it because it doesn’t directly affect us. I would like to cite the fable about the boiling frog. If a frog were to be placed into a pot of boiling water it would immediately try and leap out to save itself. However, if the frog is placed in a pot of tepid water and the temperature is turned up gradually, the frog doesn’t try to escape because it does not notice that it’s slowly being cooked. It’s called the boiling frog syndrome. By the time the frog notices there is trouble, it’s too late and the frog dies.
Did you do it on the initial take?
The film was shot in one take. We did this entire filming only one time. The first and only take worked! I had rehearsed the movement before hand, but the elements with the broken glass could not be practiced. We only had one big plate of glass because the other back-up plates had shattered during the delivery. Jon Gardner was the graffiti artist who placed the words on the glass.
We filmed it on November 11, 2017 at a local beach. It was so terribly cold. We would only have been able to film it once because the water was so frigid. I would physically not have been able to do another shoot of it that day. My body was rebelling against the oppressive cold. Luckily we got our shot! Wow- It was done in one try! Wow! I’m still smiling about it.
Any final thoughts?
Here is to collaborative efforts in art and our community.
This film is one take, played in reverse. Within this film, although it is played in reverse, I wanted to play with concepts of restoration of dreams and dreamers. Through time, to bring together pieces that may find themselves shattered- against the odds. Let’s come together.
We fought hard against fascism in World War II. We fought against racism and segregation in our country. We are all immigrants of humanity moving across various kinds of borders every day trying to find a safe and fulfilling place where we may live a good life. We must continue to be vigilant on behalf of each other and not let ourselves accept fascist policies even though they may not directly affect us today.
I think of these important words by Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) a Protestant pastor and activist against Nazi Germany, who himself spent seven years in concentration camps for his activism:
First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I hope that my film is inspiring to people. I hope that it inspires people to speak out. Silence equals death.
Thank goodness for our team!
Erin E. Bahn: Director, Choreographer/Dancer, Composer/Lyrics/Singer
Brian C. Milbrand: Cinematographer, Color Corrector
John G. Brady: Guitarist, Recording Engineer, Consultant
Recorded and Mastered at ReelArt
Jon Gardner: Graffiti Artist
If you are a Buffalo band and would like to submit a music video to Buffalo Rising, please email email@example.com.