Soundbites: Marcie Hernandez's Video Trilogy and Things Get Weird at the Community of Sound | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: Marcie Hernandez's Video Trilogy and Things Get Weird at the Community of Sound

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Published July 6, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.


Marcie Hernandez - COURTESY OF BEN COLLINS
  • Courtesy Of Ben Collins
  • Marcie Hernandez

There was a time when people my age were somewhat embarrassingly labeled the MTV Generation. I'm relatively sure it was meant as a slight, but as a card-carrying Gen Xer — well, I don't really care, man. (I just shrugged perfectly, if you were wondering.)

Joking aside, one reason that designation didn't bother me, even during the brief time it held relevance, was that I felt it wasn't that far off the mark. I was raised on MTV. I didhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82jg7iAma2o watch music videos any chance I got. I worshipped at the altar of "Headbangers Ball," "120 Minutes" and "Yo! MTV Raps." I got my news from Kurt Loder's stony visage. And yes, I'd even watch the "MTV Rock N' Jock" celebrity basketball games. (Never leave Flea open for a corner three!)

Suffice it to say that the music video as a concept has always had great importance to me. Long after MTV stopped having anything to do with music videos, the art form continues to shine and evolve. I often hear people say that the music video is dead or that "They don't make them like that anymore." Neither is true. Every day, artists across the world are releasing music videos.

The thing is, these days no TV channel serves as a hub for those videos. Instead, we have repositories such as YouTube, and we either need to be down to search for new videos or let the algorithm take us on a ride. Or you can just let me tell you about them!

Case in point: Burlington singer-songwriter Marcie Hernandez has not one, not two but three new music videos. Hernandez compiled the songs "Winter" and "Quiet" from her 2020 album Amanecer, plus the title track, into an episodic trilogy of videos called "Tres Pedazos," which translates from Spanish to "three pieces." She debuted the first two installments at recent Shelburne Vineyard shows. The final segment will premiere this Friday, July 8, as she wraps up her residency at the idyllic venue.

"When Amanecer came out two years ago, it was a strange experience," Hernandez told me as we strolled around Burlington's Old North End on a recent sunny day. "I couldn't do a release show because of COVID. Even the livestream thing I tried to do got canceled."

While she was happy to see the music community support and celebrate her new record, Hernandez admitted that she felt a little as if she were taking a project on which she had worked long and hard and dropping it into a void. Once she began playing shows again, she wanted to find a way to reengage with the record. A conversation with a friend gave her the idea of filming the trilogy of songs, and a yearlong process began.

First, Hernandez set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise the necessary cash to shoot three videos at once. She wanted to use actors, something she hadn't done for her previous video for "Light a Torch," as well as to bring in filmmaker Macaulay Lerman, who has worked on videos for Vermont artists such as Couchsleepers and the Burning Sun.

"I'd never even attempted something like holding auditions or to try to direct actors," Hernandez said. "Doing something like "Tres Pedazos," something that's closer to a narrative kind of film than just a video of me playing one of my songs — it was so exciting if not a little nerve-racking, occasionally."

While Hernandez needed some time to adjust to the challenges of filmmaking, the opportunity to tell a deeper story with her songs propelled her. A licensed musical therapist as well as a talented folk artist, she saw an opportunity to combine her two professions into one using a musical piece that centers on concepts of mental health.

"I wrote the song 'Quiet' after one of my family members passed away from a drug overdose," she revealed. "It got me thinking about the way generational trauma works. My grandmothers were both married to violent men, but they couldn't really get away; they had very little freedom to do anything about it. I wanted to give voice to the voiceless."

While the videos speak to Hernandez's desire to shine a light on the difficulties her family has faced, they're also her way of destigmatizing conversations about violence and addiction.

"I feel so vulnerable talking about this side of my family," she said. "But it's so much more common than we want to think it is, these histories of violence and tragedy. By not speaking of it, we perpetuate the problem."

Hernandez isn't just speaking about it, she's also trying to marry her two professional worlds. The singer-songwriter has partnered with the local nonprofit Steps to End Domestic Violence. For every glass of wine sold during her Shelburne Vineyard performances and film screenings, $1 is donated to the organization, which provides free and confidential services to victims of domestic violence.

"I used to try and keep the two worlds separate," Hernandez said of her career as a therapist and her role as a performer. "But I've been thinking more and more lately that they should merge, and something like this feels like a perfect way to do that."

If you want to see the video for "Amanecer," you'll have to go to Shelburne Vineyard on Friday; none of "Tres Pedazos" is available online yet. Hernandez plans to put the videos online in the fall, probably accompanied by a release show. For now, though, she wants to honor all the work it took to produce the trilogy and give the films a proper screening.

So pop over to Shelburne Vineyard, have a nice glass of vino while helping out a good cause and see some new music videos. Otherwise, you're just going to keep hearing geezers like me talk about how cool "Total Request Live" was. (It wasn't.)

Summer of Experimenting

Glenn Weyant - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Glenn Weyant

Burlington will get a little weirder this weekend. And it's about time, if you ask me. This town just doesn't have quite the same "What in the fuck?" vibe it used to. Remember when people rode bikes naked around these parts? Now we fill our sweet, empty pits with more cookie-cutter condo buildings and clutch pearls about where L.L.Bean is going to set up shop. I mean, when's the last time someone claimed to see Champ? Plesiosaurs don't just take vacations, people.

If you like Burlington to eschew the normal, Community of Sound has you covered. The music incubator and commune for all things artistically experimental hosts a unique event at its digs at 1 Main Street this Saturday, July 9. The show boasts an intriguing bill of some of Vermont's most adept sound wizards.

First up is East Montpelier's Glenn Weyant. Those familiar with these pages may recall a particularly memorable edition of our "Talk It Out" series in which Seven Days writers reviewed Glenn's lawn mower symphony. For the Community of Sound show, Weyant premieres "MapleMachineMusic," written for electric guitar, voice, electronics and an amplified log. Yes, an amplified log.

Burlington ex-pat Tyler Brassard returns to his old haunts with his project Even the Dew Is Porous. Brassard employs a number of electronic means to achieve his sounds, though a press release says he may "show up with a bag of ice, a blender and an assortment of tropical fruits." If he makes some drinks that can jam with Weyant's log, we've basically got a band.

Musician and producer Jeremy Mendicino takes a break from rocking with Matthew Mercury to show off his more avant-garde side with his project the Gifts. He'll bring a collection of vintage electronic equipment and strange gear, paired with field recordings.

Jo Bled - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Jo Bled

Rounding out the bill is Jo Bled, a project of Burlington percussionist and experimental musician JB Ledoux. Jo Bled's latest work has heavily featured the frottoir, a washboard-like instrument worn as a vest, which Ledoux combines with other percussion and electronics to create ambient soundscapes.

It's a weird bill, and damned if I don't love that.

New Track of the Week

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Johanna Rose has released a new single, "What If I Told You (ft. Old Pup)." Usually one third of femme-folk trio Lavendula, Rose steps a little deeper into the gothic realm on this tune that feels like a moonlit secret. Check it out at johannarose.bandcamp.com.