“It’s Gotta Be a Cult!” Q&A with Doom Trumpet (VIDEO RELEASE)


Special is the new video by Brooklyn based musical group Doom Trumpet. After a video release at Happy Fun Hideaway in Bushwick, Greenpointers hosted a Q and A with the band and the video’s director Lauren Silberman about the mesmerizing song and film.

GP: What is Doom Trumpet exactly? Would you call it a band? A project?

Lauren: I’ll leave this one to David.

David: Doom Trumpet revolves around writing and playing music together. Equally important are the scenarios and connections we create with and for our sounds. We make music videos, design stage-sets in which to perform, craft USB sculptures, hand-dye band t-shirts, and sometimes we have band yoga sessions.

GP: Your new video, Special, begins with a group walking from the ocean and retains this sense of eeriness throughout. Was this important or might a viewer just be overinfluenced by the Halloween season? 

Lauren: The idea for the video came from working with and photographing young, urban witches over the last few months – I wanted to stage a ritual and have it be the basis for the shoot; and I think that is where the eeriness comes across; though witchcraft is associated with things that are eerie and mysterious, I have found there is also a very earthy, spiritual, and mystical side to it, and I’m interested in that, too. It’s not all about evil spells and hocus-pocus, but about connections to the earth – and it’s a beautiful reason to bring people together.
I didn’t feel, in fact, that there was an eeriness to the overall feel of the video – in fact, it was less eerie then planned! In the editing process I gathered the joyous moments that we everyone was experiencing that day.

David: Every square inch of New York City, is Google-mapped, but when you reach the ocean, that all that goes away. You are left with a hidden world under a seemingly infinite surface. Our common ancestors emerged from the ocean, and our characters in the video seem to be re-enacting that epic transformation. In the video, we resemble mythical beings somewhere between people, gods, and monsters.

GP: The lone group wearing summer-of-love makeup at the end of the world gives off not just a 60’s feel, but a 60’s cult feel. The lyrics even suggest cult recruitment – no couple staring into each other’s eyes here. It’s gotta be a cult!

David: The lyrics of Special are about losing someone you love and the lingering relationship you might have with their spirit. The material things left behind can contain shifting messages and meanings for the living. Like the bottom of the ocean, death is an uncharted space and when we send out messages we might receive their echo or some transformed version thereof.

Lauren: But the look was inspired by other young urban witches I know who have adopted this look. It was more of an aesthetic choice, and the shots of the application of the makeup added an additional ritualistic feel to the video. As far as the lyrics go, I think that’s a question for Doom Trumpet….

GP: Startups and tech firms model themselves against gray suited business hierarchy in the same way the hippies did, and Burning Man has all but become a package trip. Can there be a counterculture movement that still looks like this today?

David: In this video we found a place where we could make our own rules and do whatever we wanted, which in this case was to take part in a witch ritual, something none of us had done. At first we were a bit nervous, but we ended up dressing up, hanging out, drinking wine, and flying kites mostly. When a group gets together and tries something new, with unexpected results, they are making a culture that is counter to the one that espouses obedience and conformity. Our video is a record of that feeling of possibility; you might call it a counter cultural fantasy – one that we can keep with us.

Lauren: Oh man…counterculture. This is kind of a can of worms question….

As long as there is culture, there will be counterculture. One thing that has always made counterculture so appealing is that is often associated with individuality, and you can’t deny that in the past 20 years we have seen a rise in individuality being a trend – and I think this is very much a symptom of the internet. The internet has made culture so accessible, and so easy to adopt. So it’s made all sorts of culture more popular, and more diffused into mainstream culture. So I think this is a really interesting point – will counterculture and mainstream culture eventually dissolve into each other? I wonder if counterculture will no longer exist as we know it, and if there will just be a universal appreciation for culture, across the board. That said, I think there will always be cultures/counterculture that really deviate, and I don’t see them ever making it into the mainstream….but then again, I did see I guy dressed as Charles Manson at a Halloween party last weekend.

GP: How was it making the film? It actually does have a natural day out feel by the end. Was there anything like a script? How did it come about?

LaurenWell the whole idea is that we would have Callie (the Witch) lead the band through a ritual. I had a shot list and made sure to get them at points throughout the day, but I wanted to allow the day to have a natural flow and progression. There are a lot of things that going into making a shoot go well, and the main thing is to plan everything out so that you can allow and be prepared for spontaneity. It also really helped that everyone was just really amazing and got along, and I think that shows in the final product.

Doom Trumpet are David Benjamin Smith, Louise Houghton Sheldon, Erin Laure Jennings, and Andrew Steinmetz.

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