Thao & The Get Down Stay Down Share “Phenom” Video Shot Via Zoom Video Conferencing | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Thao & The Get Down Stay Down Share “Phenom” Video Shot Via Zoom Video Conferencing

Temple Due Out May 15 via Ribbon Music

Apr 03, 2020
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Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, the band led by Thao Nguyen, are releasing a new album, Temple, on May 15 via Ribbon Music. Now they have shared another new song from the album, “Phenom,” via a video that was shot via the Zoom video conferencing app and features Nguyen and various dancers from their homes. A more standard video was originally scheduled to be shot in late March, but then the COVID-19 coronavirus made social distancing a necessity and so Nguyen and her team improvised and did some truly creative things within the confines of Zoom. Erin Murray co-directed and choreographed the video. Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux also co-directed and Victoria Fayad produced. Watch it below.

Nguyen issued this press release statement about the “Phenom” video: “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.”

Nguyen has also detailed how the 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 and 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 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 had this to say in the press release: “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.”

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.”

Nguyen also had this to say about the song itself: “‘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.” 

Previously Nguyen shared the album’s first single, title track “Temple,” via a video for the track. “Temple” was one of our Songs of the Week.

A previous press release promised that Temple “is among Thao’s most open and honest work yet,” adding that it finds her “coming out in her public life after a long career in which she kept her queer identity quiet in an effort to avoid turmoil with and alienation from a family and culture she deeply loves.”

“But that shit will kill you,” Nguyen said in the previous press release.

“I have divided myself into so many selves,” Nguyen continued. “I am nervous, but hopeful that in belonging to myself, I can still belong to my family, and my Vietnamese community, especially the elders. I believe that shame has made my work more general, when I’ve always wanted to be specific. This record is about me finally being specific. If you listen to my music, I want you to know who you are dealing with.”

Nguyen added: “I have my partner and our home to ground me in this life, in my one life. And everything I do now, everywhere I go, every time I present myself to people, it is finally all of me.”

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down Tour Dates:

June 17—Tacoma, WA—Alma Mater
June 18—Vancouver, BC—Imperial
June 19—Seattle, WA—Neptune Theatre
June 20—Portland, OR—Crystal Ballroom
June 22—Sacramento, CA—Harlow’s
June 24—Solana Beach, CA—Belly Up Tavern
June 25—Los Angeles, CA—Teragram Ballroom
June 26—Los Angeles, CA—Teragram Ballroom
June 27—San Francisco, CA—The Fillmore
July 15—Minneapolis, MN—Fine Line
July 16—Chicago, IL—Thalia Hall
July 19—Nashville, TN—Mercy Lounge
July 21—Cincinnati, OH—The Woodward Theater
July 22—Millvale, PA—Mr. Smalls Theatre
July 23—Toronto, ON—Longboat Hall
July 24—South Burlington, VT—Higher Ground Ballroom
July 25—Boston, MA—Paradise Rock Club
July 28—New York, NY—Webster Hall
July 29—Philadelphia, PA—Underground Arts
July 30—Washington, DC—9:30 Club
July 31—Carrboro, NC—Cat’s Cradle
August 1—Atlanta, GA—Terminal West
August 2—Birmingham, AL—Saturn
August 4—Houston, TX—Studio at Warehouse Live
August 5—Austin, TX—Emo’s
August 6—Dallas, TX—Trees
August 7—Oklahoma City, OK—Tower Theatre
August 8—Kansas City, MO—Grinders at XRDS
August 10—Denver, CO—Bluebird Theater
August 11—Salt Lake City, UT—The State Room

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