Brooklyn’s Castle Black are thankful that they can share their new video for “Dead in a Dream” during a time of social isolation, when they otherwise would not be able to create a music video in quite the same way. Their original plan to have a live show event with special video screening has been canceled, but they can still celebrate the video through online means to mark the occasion. Bars are closed, more shows are canceled, and music fans and bands alike are adjusting to our new reality. The video, shot last August in Brooklyn, NY, was filmed and directed by the talented Jeff Allyn Szwast, who also filmed and directed their videos for “Dark Light” and “Broken Bright Star.”
Castle Black has been steadily releasing widely praised EPs over the last several years, and are a band now known for their unique post-punk math-grunge style, relentless work ethic, intense live performance, and love of the road. With their March tour canceled, and shows for the foreseeable future canceled, the band, and bands in general, are operating in a completely new environment. For a band as busy and productive as Castle Black, this is a time to think of new ways to reach people, especially people who are feeling the emotional effects of social isolation.
Today the band premieres a new visual star, with their music video for “Dead in a Dream,” which comes off Castle Black’s EP Take Her My Life, released last November.
The video unexpectedly soars with social relevance, giving viewers an ebb and flow among various states of dream and reality. Social isolation can bring about the need for a strong imagination, as well as a strong reliance on memories to re-create emotions that may not be easily accessible during this time. Celent notes, “Having this video, which is like a relic of a time now seemingly so far in the past, is really special for us, because we are now living in a vastly different environment. We could not make this video now. We have no idea when things will be even slightly back to normal to make another video, let alone to get back to playing shows and to recording an album. The recurring lyric in ‘Dead in a Dream’ – ‘take me back in time’ – has taken on new meaning in this new world. This video, for us, is a brief jaunt back in time, a brief reprieve from everything horrible that is happening.”
The themes in “Dead in a Dream” further explore Castle Black’s love of challenging reality and exploring dark themes in a cinematic way, as can be seen in their two other music videos also directed and filmed by Szwast, “Dark Light” and “Broken Bright Star.” Once again, Szwast shows his artistic prowess in “Dead in a Dream” when it comes to framing, mood and elevating ambiguity, to perfectly match the music. The band chose to use masks from the very talented Carolyn Watson-Dubisch of Artisan Masks; these handmade paper maché masks lend an eeriness and a mysterious quality that completes the dream aesthetic of those scenes.
Szwast’s use of lighting and angles complements the vibe of “Dead in a Dream,” which seems to sway seamlessly between perceived real and dream-like states. There are worlds within worlds that are explored, if you follow the lead of Szwast’s camera. Through Szwast’s imagery, singer and guitarist Leigh Celent’s emotionally powerful vocals and guitar riffs soar, drummer Joey Russo’s passionate and creative drumming style hits you hard with every beat, and Scott Brown’s basslines drip cool and effortless through the bubbles and smoke.
When asked to elaborate on the process of filming “Dead in a Dream,” Celent shared, “Jeff moved to Georgia almost a year before this video was shot. We had to perfectly time filming dates with Jeff’s one trip back to NYC to pick up some of his stuff. We also had to work around very limited band availability, but we managed to make the most of the daylight that we had for the outdoor scenes, as everything else was filmed inside the apartment. Speaking of the outdoor scenes, I had to learn to shoot that bow with some level of authenticity and Scott revealed himself as a true archery teacher that day, ready with a crash course lesson for me while Jeff set up his camera!” She adds, “We learned that bubbles are a mess to clean off instruments!”
The instruments on “Dead in a Dream” were recorded by Michael Abiuso (from the The Venetia Fair, Kiss Kiss, The Gay Blades) at the Behind The Curtains Media studio; vocals were recorded and the song mixed by Mark Plati (who has worked with David Bowie, Spookey Ruben, The Cure, etc.), and the song was mastered by Tom Scheponik (from Gringo Motel).