The New York-based punk-meets-Mariachi band Pistolera has made a name for itself thanks to its socially conscious message, expert and surprising use of the accordion, and especially for the powerful voice of singer Sandra Lilia Velasquez.
Over the course of three albums, Pistolera's sound has shifted from outward to inward, trading in some of the band's characteristic foot-stomping for an introspective tone. So it's not surprising that a new solo debut from Velasquez, or SLV, moves further into personal territory.
Dig Deeper (out Feb. 12) is a short but affecting four-song EP with production from bassist and singer Meshell Ndegeocello. The EP leads off with the grooving "Enough," a song co-written with Ndegeocello.
I asked Velasquez to tell me more about the song -- and its rather noir music video.
"I wanted to make a simple but visually compelling video to accompany the strong lyrics." Velasquez says. "The song starts with the words 'I must admit there are things that I ignore...' It gave me this image of singing in a confessional booth and a weary priest, because there is part of me that feels guilty for ignoring the news because it's too depressing. I think others share this anxiety about the state of the world -- that no matter how much good we try to do it will never be enough to create the society we think it should be. I wanted the video to start with the viewer hearing the words and not be distracted by me, which is why I'm partially shadowed until the first chorus. I built the confessional booth out of a radiator grate from Home Depot and an old dressing screen. We filmed the b-roll in Riverside Church in Morningside Heights."
Velasquez also spoke about the silhouette, or "shadow" dancer who appears towards the end of the video:
"This is the only song that Meshell also shares songwriting credit on. The whole outro part of the song was her creation and it really opened up the song. It gave me the visual of a dancer as the embodiment of the restless human spirit. I pictured this silhouette just going crazy, so that it wasn't so much about her face or body but about her energy. Luckily I work with a lot of dancers at my day job and found a great one to play the role of the "shadow dancer." Originally I just pictured her silhouette in black and white. The director had his laptop connected to the projector with a blank Word document to project a white light onto the wall. But in the middle of the second take the screen saver went on. It was moving clouds. At first all of us were like, "oh crap, cut, cut..." but then we collectively saw how cool it actually looked, like she was dancing in the sky, and we all shouted, 'keep going, keep dancing!'"
SLV will play a EP release party at Joe's Pub on February 4th.