MUSIC

Belau's New Video, "Essence," Reminds Us Bliss Comes From Within

A premiere of the group's new music video, as well as a Q&A with member, Krisztian Buzas

Electronic duo, Peter Kedves and Krisztian Buzas, better known as Belau, have been making music together since they were ten years old.

And that remarkable history and chemistry can be heard in the group's uniquely organic sound. It is rare that you come across an electronic act that can trick the ear into forgetting about the synthesized sounds that go into it. But the song behind Belau's latest video does just that – the duo blends both ethereal and earthen sounds into a hypnotically relaxing soundscape that begs the listener to let go of her daily stresses and be whisked away to a calmer place of introspective bliss. And the video for their latest single, "Essence," which features Sophie Baker (of Zero7 fame) on vocals, captures this sonic transportation perfectly. Belau's Krisztian Buzas kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the "Essence" video, working with Baker, and Belau's origins (as well as their future destinations):

What is the story behind the name, Belau? How do you see it connecting to the group's sound?

Peter and I have been friends since we were 10. We grew up together and have always loved geography. We would browse world maps for hours. However, it took a long time for us to notice that minor country in the middle of the Pacific ocean, Palau. Aboriginal people, however, have a slightly different name for Palau: Belau. The word is indicative of pleasure, being by the sea, and looking within oneself. Just like the music of Belau. We were always driven by the intention of bringing people to another state – where they can redefine themselves and dive inside themselves to find a sense of serenity, which glows just like the sun on the waves of the ocean. However, we have to admit: we have never been to Palau, but want to go so badly.

The video for 'Essence' follows three solitary women who all drink from an apothecary jar of sorts. When they do, they are each doubled and tripled shown, then to be in the company of other versions of themselves, no longer alone in a sense. Can you speak a little bit to the vision behind the video, and how you see the themes connecting to the song (either on a lyrical or sonic level)?

Through the song, we were trying to capture individual milestones of existence – isolation to freedom, solitude to interaction. We were trying to inspire people to discover their lives outside of physical boundaries, by drinking the so-called 'Belau cocktail' when they suddenly start to see more sides of themselves ... things that they did not know before, experiences that they've always wanted to have, and emotions that they want to feel, even if they have never felt them before. The three girls represent the human, who seeks greater truth from within.

Sophie Baker is the guest vocalist on 'Essence'. What was it like to work with her? What was the writing and collaboration process like?

Sophie is a very down-to-earth woman who always welcomes you with a warm heart and a gentle smile. In the middle of the process, she told us that she has some Hungarian ancestors from the city of Esztergom (a wonderful town in northern Hungary). We met in London, where we were playing a symphonic set at St. Covent's Garden. It went very well. We even tried to create the basis of the rough vocal melodies and the lyrical theme for the instrumental [that night]. Afterwards, she sent us some demos, I wrote the lyrics for it, she flew to Budapest to record the song, and we had some great times together. I think it turned out pretty rad.

What can fans expect from Belau moving forward? Any albums in the works? Tours? More videos?

We are working on our second full-length, which will contain "Essence" and "Breath" [a 2018 single] as well, and try to go on with the job what we have already started with "The Odyssey." We are upgrading and improving (both live and in the studio). And yes, we will keep on the touring this summer. Our next big opportunity, for example, will be the Primavera in Barcelona, but we will try to impress the audience this year at Sziget [festival] and at Electric Castle as well. We have some big things coming soon! Get ready!


BELAU / ESSENCE ft. SOPHIE BARKER (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO) www.youtube.com

Culture Feature

Drew Brees Exemplifies How NOT to Be a White Ally

The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.

Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."

This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.


Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality


Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.

But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?

Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?

When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.

After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.


Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.

Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.

Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.

For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.