Thao & The Get Down Stay Down have released a new video for their single “Phenom.” The clip was shot entirely via Zoom video conferencing software in the midst of the California’s Stay At Home order, the video was filmed without any of the collaborators ever being in the same room together. The video comes ahead of the band’s fifth studio album Temple, due May 15 via Ribbon Music.
Temple is the first Get Down Stay Down record to be self-produced. Thao teamed up with longtime bandmate Adam Thompson to produce the record; he also shares writing credits on five songs. Mikaelin “Blue” Bluespruce (Solange, Carly Rae Jepsen, Mariah Carey) mixed the record. “Blue mixes more in the hip-hop and pop world and that’s what we wanted,” says Thao. “More fidelity, more upfront beat and groove-heavy mixes that are filled out and immersive…high highs, low lows, lush tones.”
The video is directed by Erin Murray (Ed Sheeran, Charli XCX, Troye Sivan, Muse, John Legend) and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux (PUP, Lights, Calpurnia) and produced by Victoria Fayad (Moby). Murray, who choreographed the video for previously released track “Temple,” also handled choreography on “Phenom.”
“We were due to shoot the video for ‘Phenom’ with Erin and Victoria in L.A. in late March. That shoot was of course rightfully cancelled in mid-March, and the fate of any kind of video and release of ‘Phenom’ was very much in question,” notes Thao. Then, as she explains, a new video came together over the course of a week:
Monday, March 23: “My manager Joe floats the idea for a ‘Phenom’ video constructed entirely within Zoom.”
Tuesday, March 24: “Erin and Victoria hop on board with the project, and Erin sends over a new treatment that afternoon. Jeremy joins, and the production team coalesces.”
Wednesday, March 25: “We have our first and only pre-production meeting (via Zoom).” Thursday, March 26 & Friday, March 27: “Erin somehow works out all the choreography for a live Zoom dance video incorporating eight dancers and myself, all sheltering in place in our respective homes.”
Saturday, March 28: “We hold our first and only five-hour rehearsal via Zoom.”
Sunday, March 29: “Shoot day. Everyone logs on at noon and wraps at around 8 p.m. Erin, Jeremy and Victoria begin post-production immediately.”
Tuesday, March 31: “Jeremy sends the first cut at 3 a.m. Toronto time. The final ‘Phenom’ video is delivered at the end of this same day.”
Erin Murray says, “I had fun adapting many of the original video ideas into the Zoom space, an outlet that was totally new to me in a storytelling/choreographic sense,” while Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux adds, “it speaks to the power of Thao to channel the rage and beauty of this song, turning isolation into community in a way that’s unique to this scary moment and also universal to a fucked up world.”
Of the track, Thao notes, “‘Phenom’ is a direct descendant of the song ‘Meticulous Bird’ from my previous album, A Man Alive. I wrote it late last year. I was reading Octavia Butler and Ursula Le Guin and channeling other worlds, a sort of post-apocalyptic utopia wherein time collapses and generations of the true leaders and the scorched of the earth come back and rule, wherein the earth itself comes back and brings to bear. I was and am always in deep awe of the fierce and focused throughout history who have worked and organized at the front lines, calling bullshit and protecting vulnerable life. They are the real phenoms and we are strong from their strength. The first seed of this song was that guitar riff that is layered over and over again at the end. ‘Phenom’ is at the edge of mania with the miscarriage of truth and justice and power, but believes in a more virtuous time and place in the distance.”
The record is available to pre-order on CD, limited pressing transparent salmon vinyl with a 24×12 folded poster, and digital download at http://smarturl.it/TempleAlbum. A limited edition Temple Food Dessert Kit is also available for pre-order with the album at https://thao.merchtable.com. The kit consists of chè, a tri-colored rice pudding with toasted coconut and cashews, prepared by acclaimed chef Diep Tran, the founder of the Banh Chung Collective and former chef and owner of Good Girl Dinette in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Proceeds from Temple Food Kit sales will go to Alma Backyard Farms, a non-profit creating dynamic opportunities in urban farming. It exists to re-claim lives of formerly incarcerated people, re-purpose urban land into productive urban farm plots and reimagine disenfranchised communities in Los Angeles as a hub for transformation.