Video Voyageur: 3Qs with The System Lights

Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The System Lights have been making waves into the New Year, Spearheaded by main singer-songwriter David Rangel, alongside R.L. Lenfestey, the two have a revolving cast of supporting musicians and friends who help to bring their unique and vibrant songs to life. Their howling guitars blend a mixture of British and American influenced music bringing a sound that is unique and their own to your ears. Their lyrics originate from observation of everyday life, travel and popular culture, which the video for “Pop Song 2020” captures immediately. Rich vocals and blistering, effects-laden – as well as bare bones – guitar, are part of this concoction that walks the line between obscure indie and commercial radio rock and roll. Using Flowers Studio (Minneapolis, MN) as their recording home base, they have additionally been working out of Cherry Pit Studios in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.  We caught up with the band for a very special segment, below.

Tell us the story of this song, why did you choose to visualize this song 

“Pop Song 2020” took its inspiration from a few different sources. Back in the 60s, The Velvet Underground put out a song called “Waiting For the Man” which basically talked about the cumbersome process of buying drugs in a bad part of town in which the singer did not live. “Pop Song 2020” kind of re-creates a modern  take on that after I observed people I knew engaging in that process. Unlike  the Velvet Underground, my song has a bit of a message at the end.

The visuals for the video are meant to be grainy and amateurish.The act of scoring drugs is not pretty. It’s not nice. It’s dark and low brow. In this day and age, I think it’s important to have visuals accompany any song you put out. It just enhances the listener’s desire to look deeper into the song and want to listen to it more. I don’t think visuals have to be over the top. They don’t even have to be very involved. I just think it’s important for there to be at least something for the listener to engage to while they are listening to the audio.

What was the inspiration behind this video(visuals, storyline, etc.)?

I wanted to take dark subject matter and lyrics, and put those to an unexpected sunny, summer-ish, California beach vibe. So far, I think people have found the song catchy. But I’m hoping they can learn something from the lyrics. They might have to dig a bit because there is some esoteric slang within the song.

What was the process of making this video?

After the song was recorded, a friend of ours took a very low-fi, DIY approach  of shooting a video.  The first scenes were shot in the  safety of a nice suburban home outside of the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As the video moved into some of the more sketchy areas of Milwaukee, we wanted to capture the mood by way of lighting and contrast.  As the scenes moved into more rundown areas where drugs might be sold, we brought the lighting down to a depressing black/white/gray and then back again into vivid color when the subject of the video was back in a nice, safe area. The song moves along at a catchy pace and we wanted to capture that with views of scenery going by while driving inside a car.


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