Night Beats Shares Video For “Thank You” From New Album Out July 14

Music Features Night Beats
Night Beats Shares Video For “Thank You” From New Album Out July 14

Danny Lee Blackwell, the L.A.-based artist who carries with him a deep love for psychedelic music in all its various forms, is back this year with Rajan, a new album recorded under the name Night Beats that’s set to be co-released on July 14th by Suicide Squeeze and Fuzz Club. Exciting news on its own, but the multi-talented musician continues to amp up our anticipation this morning with a fresh single from this record “Thank You,” complete with a brilliantly trippy video.

The clip, directed by Austin filmmaker Vanessa Pla, feels like equal parts Alejandro Jodorowsky, Black Orpheus and The Mighty Boosh as Blackwell finds himself in the company of — and is slowly swallowed up by — a group of masked figures that, at one point, leave him completely naked on the floor while the camera spins overhead. Read into these eye-popping visuals what you will, but here’s what Blackwell had to say about this new video:

Collaborating with Vanessa Pla, the director of the “Thank You” music video, has been an exceptional experience. Vanessa has a profound understanding of the creative process, and has helped me to transform my concept into a meaningful work of art. In the video, the 12 masked figures symbolize the limitations of our innermost desires and struggles, as the story follows an alchemical journey of transformation. Vanessa’s vision for the video was to highlight the power of transformation as an alchemical process, which reinforces the significance of the simple gesture of saying “Thank You.” This concept challenged me as an artist to explore deeper meanings and to convey them through simple ideas. Through our collaboration, we were able to create a compelling visual story that captures the essence of transformation and gratitude.

Before we could let Blackwell slip off once again into the arms of his masked companions, we sent him some questions via email about getting nude on camera, the influence of his mom on his music and what the rest of the year holds for himself and Night Beats.

Night Beats video premiere

Paste: Really love the new video – but I always have to ask artists like yourself: do you enjoy the process of making clips like this or do you view this as a necessary evil?

Danny Lee Blackwell: Thank you. Finding others who help in challenging ideas and exploring is fun. We might find alternate meanings to things or ways to explain a message, and that’s cool to me. I love to see what other musicians or artists see, so if I can share my vision, then I’m taking part in the conversation. My friends Caleb and Katya helped me make the masks in the video, and I gave them to the volunteers that helped with the video. So it’s a communal experience.

Paste: Was it a comfortable thing to get naked on camera for this?

Danny Lee Blackwell: It’s the same feeling of going out on stage every night, in a way. I mean art is conquering fear or embracing it, no? I can separate the action from myself to where I don’t get my intent mixed up — art comes first. After all, I feel like some of my other stuff shows way more than skin, in a different way.

Paste: How did you come to work with Vanessa Pla, who directed the video?

Danny Lee Blackwell: We met through friends from Texas! We made the video for “New Day” a couple years back. Having a shared certain kind of love and appreciation of certain filmmakers, musicians makes the creative process a lot more fluid. It’s a certain warmth and kindness- she is awesome and I’m excited to see what she gets into next.

Paste: From the press notes for the new album and the sheer amount of music you’ve released with this project, it feels as though songwriting comes easy to you. That said, do you worry over every last detail of a song either in the studio or as you are writing? Or are you comfortable letting things fly and allowing happy accidents to surprise you?

Danny Lee Blackwell: To me, songwriting isn’t something that should be easy. It’s instinct, and the only way to shape instinct is through time and experience. Details are what tell a story. And I want to tell a good one. After a while you might be creating things from a subconscious place, where you can imagine the music in the room you’ve envisioned in your interplanetary saloon, or the sound of a friend’s laughter. I’m more interested in creating my own language and approach to music. The song is what matters, but I also just genuinely love a lot of instruments. I love tone, texture and inflection; so a lot of times I’ll record off the cuff, keeping first takes, realizing the song is calling for something that I didn’t expect before I played it.

Paste: Also in the press notes, you talk about a “pursuit of freedom” that you said was instilled in you by your mom – who you dedicated the new album to. What does that mean to you?

Danny Lee Blackwell: It was a message I hope to share through this record. I wanted this album to represent a channeling of love in the highest degree, that of a mother to child. This record is dedicated to her, however her influences are more sewn into my musical DNA, less apparent to the outside.

Paste: Was your mother an influence on you as far as your taste in music? Did she introduce artists or albums to you as you were growing up?

Danny Lee Blackwell: There was a lot of Doors, The Moody Blues, and a box of old vinyls she brought from India, mostly soundtracks. She was a Bharatanatyam student dancer when she was younger, so maybe I got some rhythm from her.

Paste: What did she think about your decision to start making music and touring and being a professional musician?

Danny Lee Blackwell: She didn’t have the chance, but I think she’d be stoked.

Paste: Do you have a sense of what the rest of 2023 looks like for you and Night Beats? Big plans you can tell us about?

Danny Lee Blackwell: Hoping to bring the live band to the people, keep writing and recording. I’m practicing right now for a tour in June with my other group, Abraxas. We’re opening for W.I.T.C.H. (We Intend To Cause Havoc), one of my favorite bands. I’ll even get to play guitar in some shows with them, so I’m excited about that!

Paste: What are you listening to these days?

Danny Lee Blackwell: I found some old tapes I had laying around, pre-band demos of early tracks so it’s been interesting hearing that. I’ve been experimenting with a harmonist pedal. I picked up an Ella Fitzgerald CD to replace the Chaka Khan CD that’s been stuck in my car. I dig the Danger Mouse/Black Thought record from last year. I like the idea of being on both sides of the creation, instead of finding old rare classic sounds from the past, writing music that can be adopted by other minds, continuing a cycle of creation. Last plays on my music app were Aaliyah, Roky Erickson, The Weeknd and Suicide.

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