BlackBook Premiere: Exuberant New GARZA Video For ‘Something That’s Different’ (ft. Emeline)
You’ll forgive us if we roll our eyes at yet another major record label conjured collab by some or other cliche-riddled pop singer and his/her/their assigned hotshot producer. Seriously, you can smell all that calculation half a planet away – and it’s not a good smell at all.
Which is why we’re beyond thrilled at the purely organic coming together of Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza, former Kennedy Center composer-in-residence Mason Bates, and rising young songstress Emeline. The former has been one half of the genre-crossing DC electronic duo since 1995, and along with musical accomplice Eric Hilton, both have continued in their relentless musical relevance, most recently bringing Jamaican rapper Racquel Jones along for the ride. Garza, Bates and the angelic-voiced Emeline have just conspired on the absolutely exuberant new single ‘Something That’s Different,’ the video for which BlackBook enthusiastically premieres here.
Its a project of Bates’ Mercury Soul, which has been endeavoring since 2015 to fuse the worlds of classical and electronic music with a series of innovative events. He and Emeline complement Garza to absolute perfection here, the opulent strings, sultry beats and ethereal vocal performance coming off like some glorious marriage of Massive Attack and Saint Etienne. The captivating accompanying video, shot on a lush California estate, is just the hit of joy we need right now, as we struggle out of seventeen months of pandemic fear and anxiety.
The track is an alternate version of the one which will appear on the upcoming GARZA solo album, to be released through Magnetic Moon later this year. In the meantime, we caught up with Garza and Bates to discover how it all came together.
How does this new GARZA single and video fit into the Mercury Soul mission?
MB: ‘Something That’s Different’ is a vibrant mix of electronica and a string quartet, and this mix of diverse elements absolutely lines up with our cross-genre approach.
You guys worked together on Thievery’s Symphonik album from last year. What first brought you two together?
MB: Thievery Corporation are known for their rich integration of DJs, Latin beats, psychedelic sounds…there’s a straight line running from them to groups such as Pink Floyd, and that ‘huge mix’ sound is great for concert halls and live instruments. And Rob is one of the few visionary artists whose music can work with classical instruments in concert halls.
How did you connect with Emeline? And what attracted you to her as a singer?
RG: I connected with Emeline through my friends and coproducers Smle. She has such a great voice and is extremely talented, it was very easy to work together. Our first day in the studio we came up with two songs, one of which was ‘Something That’s Different.’
What is the sort of philosophical “mission” of Mercury Soul?
MB: Mercury Soul animates classical music in the 21st Century, from club shows to music videos. Our mission is to pair the deep listening experience of classical music with today’s DJs, electronic artists, and multi-genre visionaries.
And have you found that classical music is still reaching new generations? Because it feels a bit like it has a shrinking audience.
MB: Classical music and orchestral instruments are actually reaching a lot of people, but not always in the concert hall. If you saw The Force Awakens or Tenet, you heard a two-hour symphony running behind a cutting edge film. I believe there’s a strong appetite for classical music if we are open-minded about the way it’s presented.
The setting for the video certainly seems idyllic. Where was it shot?
RG: It was shot at Green Gables, which is a beautiful estate just outside of San Francisco. We filmed it right in the middle of COVID restrictions, which made it a bit of a challenge.
MB: I went to school with a descendent of the owners, who are also generous arts philanthropists and wonderful people. There was even a summer that my family lived on the property while our house was undergoing construction, so I feel very dedicated to its naturalistic setting. The day we shot this video, the property listed for $135M – so if you have some spare change, act now.
Rob, what are you trying to do with your solo material that is apart from what you do with Thievery?
I want to explore more pop sensibilities and influences from when I was [first] starting to make music, specifically things back from the ’80s and my fascination with new wave. This project is specifically about opening up myself more to different collaborations and working with different singers.
The song seems to be about not being able to let go and move on – “I can’t keep hoping that someday you’ll want something you left behind.” Is that related to a personal experience?
RG: I think when we wrote that line it was something that both of us could relate to, and I think that’s something that can be very personal and at the same time very universal. Thematically the song insinuates a sort of rebirth and moving on.
Can you give a hint of any highlights from the upcoming solo album? Will string arrangements be a prominent feature?
RG: The new album has lots of different textures inspired by ’80s new wave and [features] collabs with artists like Stee Downes, Walker & Royce, Enemy Planes, Calica, Fare and, of course, Emeline. The album is very diverse stylistically and there are some string parts throughout – although ‘Something That’s Different’ was the one track that we really got to work on with Mercury Soul.
Will you be touring again for this album, and will Emeline be joining you?
I would like to get on the road again and tour with this project. At the moment there’s a lot of new Thievery dates, so roadwise I’ve been more focused on that…although there will be some GARZA dates throughout the year.