High Valley School Dance Auditions Class of '85
This is the nostalgia rich setting of RJ Thompson's new visual for "Blackout Windows" one of the songs on his breakout LP "Echo Chamber". RJ Thompson has gained popularity as a rising singer-songwriter star in the last year. While the obvious is that RJ loves the 80s and it's unique synth sounds, vocal stylings, and percussive groove, his lyrics remain very culturally relevant to today. In "Blackout Windows," he professes that "Some people are fighting for freedom, some people are fighting for love, some people are fighting for extra, but I am just fighting for fun." While this lyric is timeless it also feels in reference to the recent protest culture we've been experiencing across the globe. Any artist can write about their personal experience, but I am extra impressed by an artist who can capture the human condition that simply yet that expertly.
The video itself is very retro in nature. Down to the muted neons of the gymnasium floor and style of dance the gentlemen in the fedora so expertly executes. If this doesn't make you remember dancing to The Breakfast Club in your pajamas as a kid, I don't know what will. In ways, the music video almost seems to take place in two different times. While the dancers feel like they're in the class of '85 High Valley School Dance Auditions, as RJ so brilliantly set the scene at the top of the video, it almost feels as though the band is at some sort of reunion looking back on the memory cued by their modern clothing in comparison to the dancer's fishnets, fedoras, and permed hair.
RJ Thompson is an artist who truly has put his head down and did the work. His "big break" only came after gigging out countless grass roots style music venues, bars, and clubs in his native North-East UK. One night in Hartlepool where at an open mic, he was discovered by a sound engineer who was working with Midge Urge the Ultavox frontman. This lead to RJ Thompson being booked for over 30 shows touring the UK as a supporting act for Gabrielle Aplin, Deacon Blue and Jools Holland. During this time, Thompson released several EPs and a live album. Next month, he is taking the leap and releasing his first studio LP.
Musically, RJ draws a lot of inspiration from the greats of the 1980's. His production style is inspired by Bruce Springsteen and Soft Cell. His affection toward analog synths and funky bass lines are apparent. He says, "Blackout Windows is probably the most in-your-face track on the record... unapologetically full of some of my favourite synth sounds and rhythms. When I made this record I wanted to make a body of work that was influenced by the music and films I listened to and watched as a child. There are musical nods to people like Michael Jackson and Prince throughout the album, and each video is a subtle nod to a classic 80s movie." The video in fact as directed by RJ himself. His previously released music video for title song "Echo Chamber" explicitly reminds me of an updated The Breakfast Club.
Something I admire about RJ's overall work is his ability to hone in on the basic human desire to move and express yourself through music. Though all of his music and videos are very stylized, one thing remains constant: all of the subjects in his videos are dancing like nobody's watching. This feel good notion of cutting loose is something we all need after dealing with the stress and pressure of the day to day and his ability to bring that out in people is something special. Love RJ's music and want to cut loose with him live?
Check out his tour dates here.
29th November - City Hall, Newcastle
30th November - City Hall, Newcastle
1st December - SECC, Glasgow
21st December – International Centre, Harrogate
22nd December - First Direct Arena, Leeds (Jools Holland Support Tour)