Soul Low, “Heard It All Before” feat. WebsterX

Sjimon Gompers

Presenting a modern duet of dueling love interests conveyed through a smart production of big styles, Milwaukee’s Soul Low premiere the Dan Black and Philipp Hoffmann video for “Heard It All Before” featuring WebsterX. Off the upcoming Kind Spirit EP, the group are releasing a corresponding visual for all singles on the release with a limited run DVD of the EP that also includes bonus footage along with all of the music videos. On “Heard It All Before”, the Midwest group of Sam Gehrke, Jake Balistrieri, Charlie Celenza, Sean Hirthe, along with local contemporary cohort WebsterX—aka Sam Ahme—paint the picture of tumultuous love triangle where counter-opposite narratives are bridged together in a dramatic collision.

Gossip, jealousy, trust, and complicated connections are served up as Soul Low examine the clandestine relationships lived on the down low, where confrontations and conflicted feelings and jealousy cause Shakespearean-like tragedy. Low-lit corridors provide ominous backdrops for the boyfriend-like figure who has lost his lover in a sea of suitors, competing to reclaim the affections of his girlfriend. The love triangle is completed by a verse from WebsterX shown through the blue and red televised filters of a taped confessional. The reality checks of lifted curtains, a complimentary “Since You’ve Been Gone”-Kelly Clarkson reference, and ambiguities of genuine affection contribute to the video and song’s climactic, and continuous rising heat and pressure. The tension progresses to the desperate levels of a lover caught between what steers the sordid entanglement to the dramatic, calamitous curtain-closing conclusion that drops with a guillotine’s edge. We had a chance to catch up with Soul Low’s Sam Gehrke in the following interview:

What sorts of repeated hearsay informed the the multidimensional suite of “Heard It All Before”? I love how the down-tempo song has different sections, different moods, and more, all combined into one song.

The different sections of the song originally came from the lyrics being divided into two perspectives, that of the boyfriend, and that of the male lover. These two voices then translated into two contrasting parts (the dry, ominous verse and the driving chorus). We also were really into the idea of writing a song that continually built: tension, momentary release, tension, etc until the end where everything explodes.

What is Soul Low’s approach to song composition like, and what’s it like working with fellow Milwaukee artist Webster X?

Soul Low’s typical approach to writing a song starts with Jake writing/recording a short demo. He then sends that out via email to all of us and if it sticks, we’ll work on it at practice until it becomes something rad.

Working with Sam Ahmad [WebsterX] was great: we both came up in the scene at about the same time and since we’re both intensely into cross-genre collabs, it was a natural pairing. During the writing process we were careful to do our best to stick to a sound that was both organic and original, rather than to try and write a ‘hip hop’ song (the typical live band + MC kinda thing).

What was it like adapting “Heard It All Before” for video, and how did Dan Black’s video further contribute to the song?

The creation of the video was largely done by Dan Black and Philipp Hoffmann. The loops of each scene and the dark atmosphere really helped bring out the brooding theme of the song. With Sam’s part being the only real color in the video, it helped emphasize his role in the song as well as give the viewer a sense of ease. The culmination at the end of light and dark really helped make it a strong finish.

Give us the story on the making of your upcoming EP that is set for release this January.

For a while now we’ve had a handful of diverse songs that didn’t have much a home with the other songs we’d been working on. However, since we still really wanted to release them, we figured a video EP would be a great medium to do so while displaying each song’s distinct flavor. The plan was to release a video single each month starting in October and leading up until the January 3rd release date (we’re on 2/4). We’ll be pressing a limited run (100) of the EP as a DVD w/ each music video plus bonus footage. The DVDs will also include a poster with a graphic to accompany each song. Pre-orders start next week.

What is good these days in Milwaukee?

Milwaukee has been wonderful lately. Lots of great new young bands have been hitting the scene with a lot of ambition. Fans and bands alike have been very supportive at shows, which is way rad.

Must hear Milwaukee artists that the world has yet to discover?

Some bands we’ve been really into are The Fatty Acids, Calliope, Antler House, GGOOLLDD, Bliss & Alice, and Canopies. All excellent artists that display a great level of diversity in the Milwaukee music scene.

With the EP in January and a slate of shows in December; what are you all most excited about amid all this winter/holiday action?

Soul Low is going to be hitting a two week tour down to Austin, over to LA, and back home starting on January 3. Sam (WebsterX) will be releasing a new single (this Saturday actually — December 6) entitled “Doomsday” via Pigeons & Planes.

Projections and prospects for the new 2015 year?

2015 is gonna be bringing with it new full lengths, more videos, festival shows, and tours from both Soul Low & WebsterX. Soul Low’s mannequin, Joffrey, will also be promptly displaying a new wardrobe with each season.

Listen to more from Soul Low via Bandcamp with their Kind Spirit EP available January 3.

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