Music

PREMIERE: Jason Scavone Awakens from ‘Catastrophic Dreams’

Jason Scavone's blurred face is lit in red in front of a black backdrop.
Jason Scavone in the video for ‘Catastrophic Dreams.’

In the video for “Catastrophic Dreams,” the ethereal title track to Jason Scavone’s new album, the Charlotte-based singer-songwriter takes a stripped-down approach, staring straight into the camera for much of the track while director Will Davis makes subtly symbolic changes to the aesthetic through incorporating different lighting and adding visual graphics to Scavone’s likeness. 

The song, as the title suggests, is a dreamlike, autobiographical ballad that also serves as an allegory for the surreal state of the world during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and throughout the two years it took Scavone to record the new album, in which he reflects on the different ways the experience has affected his state of mind. 

 

“The line ‘Am I awake, or am I dreaming? It’s hard to tell the difference,’ sums up just how blurred the lines were between my nightmares and reality” during the pandemic, Scavone told Queen City Nerve. “In recording this song, along with many other tracks on the record, I tried to create a landscape that allowed beauty to rest upon a bed of chaos and tension in order to convey the conflicted and uncertain state that I found myself in.” 

The album released on Feb. 10 and is available on most streaming platforms

Despite being a producer and engineer himself, in the past Scavone has collaborated other producers and engineers for his projects. He took the reins himself for the entirety of Catastrophic Dreams. 

“This allowed for more freedom than I’ve ever experienced in the recording process,” he said. “I took nearly 2 years to complete the project, and was able to explore new territory sonically, and take more chances than I ever had previously.” 

He brought on Tom Schick (Wilco, Ryan Adams, Norah Jones) to mix the album. 

Like Jason Scavone, Davis is a multi-talented artist in Charlotte known for wearing many hats: artist, educator, songwriter and producer. He is also the founder of local arts advocacy group Small Creatures and director of the Film Studies Program at UNC Charlotte.

Davis told Queen City Nerve that many of the visuals he worked into the final cut came to him almost immediately upon hearing the album’s title track. He recognized a new progression in Scavone’s sound, was struck by the elements of light and dark, and keyed in on the often difficult act of recalling a dream. 

“I focused visually on the play between surface realities and internal landscapes, which began by finding kindred artists — Kenneth Anger, Francis Bacon, David Lynch — as inspirational signposts,” Davis said. “I also wanted to work intimately in a small studio space with analog materials to help guide an exploratory approach.” 

After a day and a half of shooting with Scavone, Davis got to work on layering and animation in post-production, turning it into the faintly phantasmagorical final cut we’ve premiered today. 

“I enjoy finding the balance of creating something that is striking but doesn’t distract from the music,” said Davis, who also fronts Rasmus Leon, a band that began as Davis’ solo project but has recently brought on more members. “Part of the creative challenge is finding something that resonates with me visually that can interact with the music and speak to any starting points musicians may have. Tying two mediums and visions together can be a challenge, but when it works both can amplify each other and create something powerful.” 


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