The Poetry of New Shack
March 1, 2018
“Cherry” Music Video Hits the Internet
By Greg Cayea
Photography by Trevor Christensen
Cat Leavy and Eric Robertson join the succession of artists emerging from the Mountain Time Zone of their hometown of Provo, Utah. The two musicians met at Brigham Young University during their undergrad but didn’t begin collaborating until after Cat completed graduate school for performance studies at NYU. They began working on music together while Cat was overseas vagabonding through Germany and Eric was immersing himself in the small community of music production and art back home in Utah. While Cat earned her wages as a nomadic factotum in the early days—tending to a Victorian rose garden, taking care of miniature horses, and completing commissioned drawings and paintings—Eric began sending her music that he had produced in Provo via digital courier. The duo continued working side by side, even with the Atlantic Ocean separating beat from lyric, nomadically bouncing ideas off each other. The end result was the whimsical synth-sound that solidified as the group now known as New Shack.
New Shack projects a philosophical and darkly romantic spin on life, with poetic lyrics and ominous fables that can be found in all of their songs. The lyrics to “Cherry” were inspired by Marie Antoinette, who rose to fame to be crowned Queen of France at age nineteen, sparked a pivotal role in the French Revolution, and was then beheaded by the age of thirty-seven after her political downfall. The message in “Cherry” conveys that same theme of delusional grandeur and the imminent crash that often follows. The historical lyrical inspiration from Marie Antoinette contrasted with the pop culture of today is present throughout the video, and very much accompanies New Shack’s brand of dry humor, dark intellect, and obscure truth. It’s poetry.
Undertones of the current societal self-delusion of perfection can be spotted throughout the narrative, which seems to reference a strong opinion on the landscape of social media, instability, and youth culture. The digital age is one of dual-existence; symbols of the mounting pressure of maintaining an online persona of sexual desirability, devoid of aging and physical blemish, compared with the mounting pressure of being human with actual human flaws and real fears seem to be omnipresent. It reminds me personally of the endless adventure and nonstop happiness portrayed on social media profiles all over the globe and how, often, that can be the loneliest place on Earth. But as with all poetry, the meaning is somewhat hidden and open to interpretation. In any case, “Cherry” seems to take the hypothesis that we’re all full of crap and poke it with a stick. What a relieving feeling to watch New Shack take a stab at addressing the glum and sickening selfie atmosphere in a medium that still seems to hold some weight. Luckily, we are still influenced by music, and instead of diving into what their response to my analysis of their art was, I enjoyed asking them some lighter questions about what it was like shooting the “Cherry” music video.
GREG: Sooo … What was the funniest thing that happened on set?
NEW SHACK: In one of our shots, we dumped all this fruit into a swimming pool. Eric stood in the background carefully herding the fruit around Cat’s head with a pool cleaning net. What we didn’t know is that raspberries don’t float. Every raspberry sunk to the bottom and we had to get all “scuba” to round them up.
GREG: So much for floating raspberries. And what was the most stressful thing that happened on set?
NEW SHACK: The carousel shot was done at a mall, and we had to hide from mall security between takes! We were lugging all this gear and pretending to be just a few adults casually enjoying a carousel ride on a Sunday.
GREG: Sounds like a wonderful Sunday to me! What was the most exciting part of the process?
NEW SHACK: Seeing the end result! This video was low key and DIY, so witnessing Kristine Knight take a bunch of random footage and turn it into something cohesive and beautiful was incredible. She’s such a gifted director and editor.
GREG: What did you find to be the most draining part of the process?
NEW SHACK: Kristine shot and edited this within days, which is astounding. I’m sure she was more drained than any of us. Although Cat trying to float in a pool while singing was also a bit tricky.
GREG: What do you hope to accomplish with the release of “Cherry”?
NEW SHACK: We want this to be our biggest release yet. The track itself is one of the most unique songs we’ve ever done. The beat that Eric wrote is absolutely original and almost uncanny in parts. Fun fact: the time signature is 17/8. Yep, he did that. We want this track to receive the attention it should get!