If you were fortunate enough to be in attendance for Ladygod’s live show at Hardywood over the weekend, which celebrated the release of the vinyl edition of their distinctive 2017 debut full-length album, Rock n Roll Kaliphate (Bossy Lil’ Thing Records), you witnessed the presentation of a sea change. Adaptivity has been the rule for guitarist/vocalist Skye Handler’s psych-blues project, and in the current line-up, the outfit is at its peak vitality.
After a number of mutations over the last few years, the band has arrived—with an occult consciousness of collective mind—to include Kelly Queener (Peace Beast), Dave Vicini (Beat Awfuls, Viva Viva) and Seth Peterson (Seawhorse). We chatted on Sunday evening, following their set, about atmospheric conditions, self-reliance and the making of their newest video, “For All The Stars.”
“Climate change is what’s going on in the world, and to put it simply, we’re like a micro-aggression of climate change. The band changes a lot because the climate is changing,” said Handler. “Sometimes it’s a very arid desert, scratching things, and sometimes it’s a beautiful, tropical swamp. If you don’t change with it, you die.”
A particular change that I noted, and which is allowing the foursome to thrive, is the shift of all their aesthetic media to collaborative syntheses within the group. This change is evident in the release of their third video celebrating Rock n Roll Kaliphate, for the track “Witchhunt,” in which Peterson exercised his savvy in video direction and editing, while also pulling from imagery previously shot by Queener and fellow collaborator Angela Huckstep. BGE. Produxions  is their umbrella platform for these collective projects, which now includes five Ladygod videos and one with fellow Richmond band, Toward Space.
“Bands have to be able to produce their own stuff. If you really want your attitude to shine through, you’re going to have to do it yourself,” said Handler on the video production process. “And it also makes sense—if everyone is going to be watching, listening to, music through video—you might as well follow the expression with videos produced by the same people creating the music. It’s like an extension of concepts that begin with the music—you have records, then tapes, CDs, and now videos.”
For Vicini, the creative process of making the videos is one of the things that makes it the most fun for him.
“It’s just another dimension to the whole outfit. There’s the music—writing it, playing it, playing shows, recording; and then there’s making videos, making shit, all the drawings, t-shirt fucking designs..” he said.
In Ladygod’s video release for “For All The Stars”, Queener took the role of artistic director. Making a departure from her formal medium, she entered a new corridor, animating her illustrations, splicing vintage film, and collaborating psychically with Handler to cultivate this hypnotic fever dream.
“Skye wrote this song about the death of his friend and addiction, firsthand. But it’s not written as a cautionary tale or from a singular feeling,” Queener said of the song. “I think because it’s written firsthand it includes these kinds of spinning poetic images both dark and sweet—and there’s a universe within it to mine for imagery. So the video tries to mimic that balance rather than continually match image for image. I wanted it to have a playfulness to it, even with dark subject matter, because that play is in the form of the song. There’s no horror, just a childlike curiosity.”
Keeping this storm rolling, the group plans to release a number of recorded tracks that didn’t quite make the 2017 album via video collaborations over the rest of this year. These songs, along with a number of select demos, will also be made available via Bandcamp.
“If we’re doing what we really want, then every song we make will have this kind of universe to pull from and that will be the connector, not any super-defined stylistic element,” Queener added.
Rock n Roll Kaliphate is available on both vinyl and CD through the group’s Bandcamp here.
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond