A mysterious and powerful force is taking hold and its name is July Talk’s latest single “Governess Shadow,” premiering exclusively on Billboard today (April 16).
The Canadian alt-rock group surges through a blindingly energetic set to bring an insidious adversary to light with a direct and unassailable approach. The band’s spirit is characteristically relentless though, and the journey becomes just as uplifting as it is darkly twisted. Although the song tackles a broad and often invisible target, it’s rooted in a more personal connection that co-lead vocalist Peter Dreimanis addresses immediately in the lyrics.
“This song is about my great-grandmother Alice and her two sisters Marie and Anna, who were sent to finishing school in Moscow as teenagers to learn how to serve the wealthy families of the day,” Dreimanis tells Billboard. “It’s also about the deep imbalances of power in our world, and specifically how people are separated by wealth and gender.”
Dreimanis took this inherent yet abstract inequality and began to develop a more material representation of its sinister presence.
“I started thinking about this giant shadow that white men can step in and out of whenever it suits us, how we can simply decide when to break the rules and when to recite them.” he says. “I wanted ‘Governess Shadow’ to raise a flag and a dagger and call out that comfortable complacency.”
The song’s rally against restrictive, outdated power structures is reflected by the accompanying visual’s collage of antiquated advertisements rife with devious and corruptive messages. The vintage aesthetic is lent by the director Cosette Schulz’s hand-picked selections from a magazine collection supplied by co-lead vocalist Leah Fay’s grandmother.
“There’s an innocence to the design of that time, but underneath that innocence is a whole lot of blatant misogyny,” Schulz points out. “Some of the advertisements I found, many that made it into the video, are bonkers! You almost want to laugh at how shocking they are, and then cry.”
Watch July Talk’s Leah Fay Destroy a Sexist Heckler
In an unlikely collaboration, Schulz also notes the crucial contribution from members of Canadian indie-pop group Shy Kids, who helped the video “move and marvel the way it does” with their video editing effects prowess.
Since the entire video had to be made remotely, during this curious, socially distanced time, I would hand off finished sequences and they would finesse them in a way that I couldn’t have done on my own,” Schulz says.
The monochromatic end result creates a seamless visual link to the debut single “Pay For It” from their upcoming third album Pray For It, released earlier in April. The album is set to drop on July 10 via BMG/Sleepless Records.