Allies of the LGBTQ community can come from the most surprising of places. Locally, one of the newest is the indie band Blanket Barricade and its singer/songwriter Wesley Krauss whose song “A Velvet Affair” was inspired by the documentary film “Beyond Gay (The Politics of Pride)”.
We caught up with Krauss to find out more about the song and the video that was created for it.
Do you identify as gay?
I don’t identify as gay although many people in my distant past would have never guessed such.
Why take on a gay theme?
The reason I took on a gay theme is that as a child I was bullied a lot for being considered gay and it made quite a lasting impression on me. Things may be different nowadays but growing up in the latter half of the 90s I can attest to the fact that being considered gay was probably the worst possible social stigma in BC public schools. Besides my own experiences I also have many gay friends and colleagues and am a strong supporter of gay rights.
What inspired you about “Beyond Gay (The Politics of Pride) to write this particular song?
My friend composed the music for “Beyond Gay (The Politics of Pride)”. While he was working on it he would show me certain scenes that he was working on. I have not actually seen the final full version of the documentary, though I plan to next time there is a screening. However, the number of scenes I did see as well as the trailer really stuck in my mind and made a strong impression. Strong enough that I was inspired to write a song about what I had seen.
Tell us about the title “A Velvet Affair”.
One of my gay friends explained to me once how “velvet” was often used to mean “gay” and so I thought it fitting to use the title “A Velvet Affair” to describe what was happening during these pride marches in Russia and Sri Lanka. Being the lead track on the “Parade Bells” album it also felt like a good song name to introduce people to the album’s themes and general theatrical and slightly dark/mysterious nature.
Why this song now?
There has been so much news of late of gay hate crimes and general prejudice all around the world. For example, the horrendous legislation being considered in Uganda to imprison and even kill all homosexuals, the torture of gays in Iran, and the debate over gay marriage in the US. It seems to me that here in Canada we’ve become rather complacent to an issue that is hardly resolved when we look at it through a global perspective. (The day I felt proudest to be a Canadian in my entire life was when gay marriage was legalized, July 20, 2005!). This is why I think now is a perfect time to put this message out there about international gay rights. Sadly I’m sure this message will be needed years to come, but at least things are improving, though at a snails pace it sometimes seems.
What was your inspiration for the video?
The video’s concept was thought up by the director, Ivy Lam. She wanted to do something unique and different than your standard rock band video. We both felt the reverse concept would be a great challenge and something that we could be proud of having done. The concept revolves around an emotionless me roaming a world of strange, colourful, happy figures. Although not planned as such, the concept in hindsight really fit with the message and story of the song. My emotionless figure represents the pride marcher in a country such as Iran. He can not be himself and must spend his days watching everyone else being allowed to enjoy themselves and be who they truly are.
The video is pretty amazing with its backwards shots – how long did it take you to film and edit?
The video was shot in one day, about 8 hours. The editing took about 3 weeks.
You have said that learning the lyrics backwards was tough – how long did that take?
Learning the lyrics backwards took about a month. The process involved me continually listening to a reversed copy of the song and singing along. In addition I also wrote out all of the lyrics backwards and changed them phonetically so that they sounded like what the actual reverse vocal sounded like. Even after a month some parts were too hard to sing and we just edited around those sections. I plan on one day, for fun, actually recording myself singing the backwards lyrics and then reverse it, to see how accurate it sounds forwards.
Where did you film?
It was filmed in Rocky Point Park in Port Moody.
Who are all the people in the video?
Pretty much everyone in the video is a friend of mine or a friend of a friend or a friend of the directors.
What’s next for Blanket Barricade?
We’re releasing our debut album “Parade Bells” in hopefully February or March of this year. It features two other songs which follow up on the story started with “A Velvet Affair” and deal with what happens to the individuals after they take part in the parade. Besides promoting and releasing the album we’re also going to be busy over the next while releasing music videos. Through good luck, it looks like we will be releasing a music video for every single song from the album. We also plan on playing a CD release party with the album release and doing lots of local shows.