'ACTIVATE' / Elle Shimada ft. Abbey Howlett and Cazeaux O.S.L.O
Debut single “ACTIVATE” (featuring Abbey Howlett and Cazeaux O.S.L.O) from Melbourne based and Tokyo born violinist/producer Elle Shimada is an experimental breakbeat anthem that leaves the taste of power on the tip of your tongue. The musical soundscape sprinkled with polyrhythmic beats, clicks, altered vocals, sweet keyboard melodies and lyrical rapping produces a track that Kompakt would co-sign. Directed and edited by Athina Wilson, the music video materialises this vision into an evocative narrative woven with inextricable motifs and an unwavering supporting cast. Undoubtedly, ACTIVATE blossoms due to the creative combination of female artists Elle Shimada, Abbey Howlett, Robbyn Cummins, Nyssa Mitchell and Athina Wilson amongst others, ultimately telling a story of empowerment through the prism of the countless diverse women surrounding Elle.
The track plays with dichotomies in sound, lyricism and videography whether it be in the form of the hushed dream-like vocals breathing candour into the track opposing the forceful breakbeat rhythms or the visual juxtaposition between the blue and red suggesting a two-character story of betrayal. Similarly, music elements seem to come in pairs like the kick-drumming and clicking discourse or the later unity between the subtle keyboard chords and low, atmospheric vocals. These contrasts and complements function to create a story about both vulnerability and power, which eventually resolve into the final idea to activate oneself and rise to worth in the form of a drum-heavy (wonderful) track.
All artistic elements within the music video support and reinforce each other to perpetuate the vision of collective strength and hope. As echoes of “hold on” permeate the track, the women gaze down the camera lens in exquisite attire to the rhythm of powerful bass drums. As the track turns more sorrowful, keyboard melodies take over the lead from the drumming and the video turns darker and bluer. The use of a powerful drumline and repetitive musical and lyrical phrases entices a similar effect. Notably, the second time that the phrase “I won’t sit and take your shit this time” is heard, it is absent of drumming which transforms the line into a more vulnerable, raw and emotional meaning and presupposes a drop. The drop, however; is replaced with a lyrical rap boasting words of wisdom including “Free yourself it’s just life”. Or a favourite of mine: an alliterated line that hasn’t left my brain since first hearing: “Forever you’re faking the funk”.
“Free yourself it’s just life”
The succintity between the music video, music and lyrics is clear and empowering within the rap as we witness s entrapment within the TV before that TV is later smashed and thwarted to pieces with passion and rage. The freedom vs entrapment contrast is best seen as the cast is dancing and urging “Activate!”
Call it an anthem, a battle cry, a calling or however you wish - in ACTIVATE, Elle hopes to inspire a strength within all listeners, urging them to active themselves. There’s no doubt that the final line “Need to active…” will be ringing in your ears as you walk the streets of Melbourne, navigating where to best exert newfound power.
Catch the music video below, and be sure to watch out for more goodness from these wizards of their crafts including: Elle Shimada Band’s tour to Japan in July-August where they will inject their electronic and live improvisation into Japanese venues and new event 音-OTO best described as a technicolour exploration of sound, fashion and art. The first edition will be held at Geddes Band Ballroom on June 22nd featuring Chiara Kickdrum - stay tuned for more announcements coming soon.
Words by Margarita Bassova