ALBANY – 2020 has been a bizarre year for many, and “Strange Things” captures just that.
The song and music video, which are being released this week, were created by four local artists who drew inspiration from horror films, politics, social media influence and, of course, Netflix’s aptly named “Stranger Things.”
“We’re using these monstrous metaphors to expose monstrous acts that are happening in real life that we are blind to,” said John Mirsky of Mirk, one of the featured musicians.
The ominous track also features Weerd Science (also known as Josh Eppard, the long-time drummer for alt-rock group Coheed and Cambria), Cameron Rivers of Camtron 5000 and John Glenn, of Stellar Young and John, the Astronaut.
Together, they reflect on the “upside-down” nature of the year, and on Wednesday, The Gazette spoke with Rivers, Glenn and Mirsky about the collaboration.
Q: Tell me about the songwriting process behind the track. Were you thinking about “Stranger Things” or did that come later?
Glenn: I feel like it evolved naturally. We were collaborating on other tracks and we would just take little breaks and just talk about the world and how crazy it was. I had this track that had this kind of eerie sound with synth work.
Mirsky: He already had the hook with the “Strange things” lyric.
Rivers: I think you made that lyric aside from the show. “Strange things” was the concept we adopted into the video that we did because, visually, people can connect with it, especially today.
Mirsky: Your opening line of “Since I was 11, I’ve been seeing strange things” drove that concept into existence.
Q: What events or topics do you reflect on in the song?
Mirsky: The song ends up being all about the state of the world today. All sorts of social commentary; we cover things from COVID to the election.
Rivers: The desensitization of violence and sex [in] the culture that we live in. The theme that we’re going with is that quiet ‘80s horror vibe. But it’s so poignant because, in those movies, that’s where the over-sexualized ‘all caution to the wind’ teenagers get killed. So it’s like this perfect connecting theme.
Mirsky: We’re using metaphors of the horror films themselves as ways to describe what’s happening.
Rivers: It’s more observant than it is preaching. There’s a couple lines in there that really resonate, like ‘What if I’m an accomplice of it?’ We’re not above it observing it, we’re in it. We’re part of it and it is strange.
Glenn: I think having that abstraction of talking about the world through metaphor and through allegory of these horror and sci-fi genres, allowed us to tap into true observations and make these kinda connections.
Rivers: Another line [that resonates] is ‘Where righteousness is only awarded to those that can afford it.’ I feel like that really stood out to me because [you] can afford to do the right thing or be righteous or be morally sound when all of your needs are being met and so many people’s needs right now are not being met. There’s just this tumultuous mood right now and I feel like it really comes through in the song and just the quiet, haunting nature of it. It’s like a tidal wave’s about to break but everyone’s being quiet about it.
Q: Where did you film the music video?
Mirsky: In the Washington Avenue Armory. We had an empty room that we set up a green screen in so we worked there and we used the basement of the armory, which was really a great visual. Then we did the whole bike ride scene outdoors.
Glenn: I did double duty a little bit. I directed a lot of the video, with their manager, Wes. It was green screen and basement shots in the armory and we had bike shots outside in the road in Delmar. Obviously, one of the challenges is being in front of the camera and behind it. We had my friend Jess shoot a lot of the bike scenes and Wes picked up the camera for the basement shots.
Q: How has the pandemic affected your work?
Mirsky: I think we’ve seen it almost as an opportunity to put in a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done prior to when you tour. We’re finishing a lot of stuff that we started taking the opportunity to really hone in on some songs and get some really nice packages together. We also shot 11 music videos. This is going to be the first release of many to come in the next couple years.
The whole ad campaign that we’ve done for ‘Strange Things,’ all of that needs to be prepared and collected and organized in a way that we can reach the people in the world. Right now, we’re not bound to who we can see on tour, who we can see in person at a show. We can reach everybody in the world if we make the right moves and do the right things.
Rivers: With COVID, it’s almost like a door closes and a window opens. There’s definitely a silver lining to it. It allows you to buckle down and polish the product. Inevitably, when we’re able to do shows again, we’re going to come out stronger.
Mirsky: Hopefully, with a giant fan base that wasn’t there before.
Rivers: I think it will work out in our favor just because a lot of things have lined up for us serendipitously. This is a collaboration, we all get along really well. Nothing has been forced; it’s all happened very organically. So it’s going to be hopefully a good omen for the year to come and that we’ll be able to still keep working productively like this and coming out with great content despite the limitations.
Mirsky: Sometimes having limitations forces you to see where your strengths are.
The track will be available to download on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and other platforms on Friday (Nov. 20). The music video is being released Thursday (Nov. 19). To view, visit Foster House on YouTube.