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Pop / Rock 19/01/2024

San Fermin Channels Anxious Energy About AI On Video For New Single "Weird Environment"

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San Fermin Channels Anxious Energy About AI On Video For New Single "Weird Environment"
New York, NY (Top40 Charts) The Brooklyn-based eight-piece San Fermin released "Weird Environment," the driving opening track from their upcoming fifth studio album Arms, out February 16 via their burgeoning indie label Better Company Records. The radio single arrives with an official video co-directed by bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone and Matthew Slotkin, which began from a conversation between the two friends about discomfort regarding AI's role in art. The end result features Ludwig-Leone entering the uncanny valley, where his first official press photo morphs into 37 different avatars, from Taylor Swift to Van Gogh's Starry Night to Barbie, which all beautifully explode into colorful plumes.

The band has also added shows in Austin, Dallas, and Santa Fe. Their upcoming album release tour kicks off on March 21st at Treefort Music Fest in Boise, ID. Find a full list of tour dates below or visit their website.

About the song, Ludwig-Leone explains: "This song was fueled by the manic energy that comes just after a breakup, when everything feels ultraviolet and surreal. I wanted the music to be always charging forward- you have to keep moving or you'll drown."

Regarding the creation of the video, he adds: "The song is about the disorientation of a breakup, how your whole world feels suddenly fake and unpleasant. I've also felt a related sense of distress around the approach of AI in the world of art and music. So I thought it might be cool to use a tool that makes me uncomfortable to create a video that captures that same feeling of discomfort. It felt like a way of engaging with the issue, rather than ignoring it and just having this abstract blanket of fear around it."

The multi-step process took the two friends many hours of trial and error to create before they found their way into it.
"We took a press photo of me— the first one ever taken, when I was 21— and then transformed it into 37 different 'Ellises,' based on stylistic prompts. We situated them in the environments described in the song, and taught them to sing along to the lyrics. Then we blew them up in cartoonish explosions.

While we were making it, the AI felt less like an 'author' and more like a tool, which was reassuring. (And still a pretty wonky tool, to be honest.) I still feel anxious about where it's all headed- that in the rush around AI we try to remember why we make art in the first place, which is that it's nice to communicate with other people. But also: it's funny as hell to see a portrait of me as Taylor Swift, or Popeye, or a Picasso painting, and then destroy it. My hope is that the concept and the juxtaposition, which came from human authors, are what makes it feel substantive, or at least more than a party trick."

The pair found the surreal aesthetic worked well with the subject matter of the song. Ludwig-Leone adds: "After a break up, you try on a bunch of personalities, living in this uncanny valley where nothing feels quite right. The strange animations we made felt like the right way to say something about that time. It was also a fun way to render a bunch of flooded environments, and to touch on some of the global stresses we have all been feeling recently."

"Weird Environment" follows "My Love is a Loneliness" which was praised by FLOOD Magazine, Rolling Stone, who named it a "Song You Need To Know", and Paste Magazine who proclaimed it one of the best songs of the week and said, "This might just be the new break up anthem we've all been waiting for."

The band also released two other tracks "Arms" and "Didn't Want You To," which was praised by Stereogum, Exclaim, NPR Music's New Music Friday, Northern Transmissions, and Far Out Magazine.

Arms marks a new direction for San Fermin, as they strip away much of the sonic ornamentation they've come to be known for in favor of a more raw, direct sound reflective of Ellis Ludwig-Leone's candid, plainspoken lyrics. The album was written during one of the most difficult moments of Ludwig-Leone's life, following the dissolution of two relationships. Over the course of the album's nine stunning tracks, his lyrics move from anger and disappointment to clarity and acceptance in a steady progression reflective of the roller coaster journey that consumed him for the better part of a year.

Ten years ago, San Fermin released their critically heralded eponymous album and rocketed to a national audience with NPR inviting them to play a Tiny Desk Concert and calling the album "one of the year's most surprising, ambitious, evocative and moving records," while Pitchfork praising their "ambitious chamber pop debut." Over the next decade the band released four albums and became known for their "knack for simultaneously expressing beauty and crisis" (The New Yorker). Arms is the greatest testament to the community the band has built over the last decade, and illustrates their ability to transform crisis into a communal catharsis.

San Fermin is Ellis Ludwig-Leone (bandleader, songwriter), Allen Tate (vocalist, producer), Claire Wellin (vocalist), Akira Ishiguro (guitar), John Brandon (trumpet), Stephen Chen (saxophone), Tyler McDiarmid (guitar), and Griffin Brown (drums).

Arms tracklist:
1) Weird Environment
2) Didn't Want You To
3) Can't Unsee It
4) Arms
5) Makes Me Want You
6) My Love is a Loneliness
7) Useful Lies
8) Wasting on Me
9) You Owe Me

Tour Dates:
3/15: Utrecht, NDL - Birds of Paradise Festival
3/21-22: Boise, ID - Treefort Music Fest
3/23: Salt Lake City, UT - The State Room
3/24: Denver, CO - Globe Hall
3/26: St. Paul, MN - Turf Club #
3/27: Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall #
3/28: Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon #
3/30: Nashville, TN - The Blue Room #
3/31: Columbus, OH - The Basement #
4/2: Washington, DC - Atlantis #
4/3: Philadelphia, PA - Underground Arts #
4/4: Boston, MA - The Sinclair #
4/5: New York, NY - Racket *
4/30: San Diego, CA - Casbah #
5/1: Los Angeles, CA - Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever #
5/3: Pioneertown, CA - Pappy + Harriet's #
5/4: San Francisco, CA - Independent #
5/7: Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge #
5/9: Vancouver, BC - Biltmore Cabaret #
5/10: Seattle, WA - Madame Lou's #
6/11: Austin, TX - Parish #
6/12: Dallas, TX - Deep Ellum Art Co. #
6/14: Santa Fe, NM - TBD #
# w/ Runnner
* w/ Mutual Benefit.

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