MAGNET Exclusive: Big Black Delta’s “Vessel” Video

Out tomorrow, 4 is the fourth proper album from Big Black Delta. (You can order it here.) For those of you scoring at home, Big Black Delta is multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Bates, frontman of Mellowdrone as well as an early collaborator with M83.

In the time between BBD albums, Bates has gotten sober and attempted to get his life back on track, going as far as scrapping all the music he was working on prior to quitting drinking in order to start again. The result is 4, a dozen-track LP that’s quite ambitious in its scope. The latest single from the album is “Vessel,” whose excellent video was directed by Warren Kommers (Fitz And The Tantrums, Twenty One Pilots).

“When approaching Warren about doing something for this song, he and I were both at points in our lives where we were revisiting past failed relationships and our responsibility in their failures,” says Bates. “I sent him the song, which is about me owning up to my victimhood. A few days later, he had a complete pre-visual and the whole video laid out. It was a fabulous experience watching it start from a vision in his head to the final edit.”

We’re proud to premiere the video for “Vessel” today at magnetmagazine.com. Watch it right here, right now. And read our new Q&A with Bates after the jump.

MAGNET: In “Vessel,” you bring life to the room and many of its inanimate objects. There’s classical elements yet plenty of contemporary references throughout. What was your and Warren’s goal and vision behind the creation of this video?
Bates:
This was of Warren’s design. My room was to be stark and empty. My favorite touch is the urinal and cracked paint in my room. In Murielle’s room is Warren’s father’s artwork, which is beautiful. He wanted her world to be sophisticated and full of color, love and movement. While my room is as basic as possible. This is what it feels like when you think everyone has a good thing going and you’re born fucked.

The video is about owning up to victimhood. How did you confront it? How do you recommend others do the same?
I avoided it for as long as I could. When it’s all you know, it’s quite a process. It was basic math. I kept having the same issues arise in my life that I thought were happening to me. The language is important. It was happening to me, as in none of it was my fault. Turns out that wasn’t correct. Yes, things happen to you—all the time actually. But you have a hand in manifestation and movement and how you handle moments. I thought being a victim allowed me to sit there and wait for help. Most of us are drowning in our experience, and it’s incumbent on the self to manage its way out. If you combine chemical depression and alcoholism, you eventually hit a wall. Or more so, a question: Why am I here? Why don’t I just kill myself if this is so unfair? When I sat with that question and meditated on it, I found I didn’t want to die but bring joy. I can’t bring joy if I’m afraid of everyone and everything. And so began the long, unending process of finding a resilient zone in which to live this life.

4 covers resilience, confronting depression and how much therapy saved your life. And with it, you scrapped an album and instead replaced it with an album of hope. How has this new perspective changed your songwriting?
Tons. Writing music is very easy for me, and I made it much harder on myself for years because I thought that was how it was done. I felt anything of worth required suffering. Most of these songs were written in minutes because I allowed myself to just create. I used to listen to all the publications and trends that said I sucked, so I felt I had something to prove. I’ve finally realized that I have nothing to prove and everything to share. 

You discuss how you and your father used alcohol to self-medicate instead of going to therapy and getting medication. To those in the same position, where do you recommend they go to start the process? 
Step one: You’re allowed. Whatever that means for you. For me, it was that I was allowed to need help, to start over, to be imperfect. That step one encapsulates being kind to yourself, which is the biggest, most powerful thing I’ve learned of late. If you can treat yourself with the kindness you deliver to others and need, your life will fold out like origami.

Step two: It’s not a race. No one including yourself is an expert on you. This will take time. If you think you need therapy, take your time finding someone. It’s just like clothing or getting laid. You don’t fuck the first person you meet on the street. Your path is singularly yours. Honor and enjoy that. Don’t be afraid if it doesn’t match those of your peers. And definitely don’t take your heroes’ biographies as dogma.

Step three: Try and be of service. In whatever situation—if you’re helping cook dinner or opening doors for strangers or even not killing ants. When the goal is outside of you, you can leave it outside of you when it no longer serves you.