The world can be a scary, tumultuous place, and when you can't find solace in yourself, that madness can feel amplified tenfold. Bad Suns tackle such a crisis of the self on "Salt," a song inspired by conversations the band members had with a close friend struggling with issues stemming from their gender identity.
I spoke with Bad Suns' Christo Bowman, about the L.A. rock band's latest Language & Perspective single, as well as its accompanying music video, which just premiered on MTV at badsuns.mtv.com. Watch it below, although -- trigger warning -- know that the clip contains potentially upsetting visuals relating to gender dysphoria, attempted suicide, drug addiction and sexual assault.
Much like Sia's "Chandelier" and Ed Sheeran's "Don't," the video, directed by Daniel “Cloud” Campos (a renown dancer who's toured with Madonna and who directed Panic At The Disco's "This Is Gospel" video and Paramore's "Now" video) tells its story through a beautifully choreographed dance sequence.
The video documents the journey of its transgender protagonist, played by choreographer Tamara Levinson, who also happens to be married to Cloud, as she accepts the gender identity she can no longer run from.
This character's transition involves hormone replacement therapy and sex reassignment surgery (though it should be noted that not every transgender individual's transition -- if they choose to transition at all -- includes such steps). The video simply tells a trans narrative, not the trans narrative. And on a greater scope, it simply tells a narrative, period.
Likewise, "Salt" began as a way for Bad Suns' Christo Bowman to process and understand a close friend's gender identity issues. But, the resulting song is meant to speak to anyone struggling with their identity -- whether transgender, gender-nonconforming or cisgender.
"The idea was to try and universalize that feeling," Bowman told me over the phone. "When the song came out, we didn't have to say anything about it. But, people would come up to me after the shows, talking about the song: 'You know, I really feel like this is about me.' These are people that aren't dealing with gender issues, you know what I mean? It's just people dealing with the same sort of lack of identity or whatever it is that's happening in the lyrics. They're relating to that."
However universal Bowman made "Salt" though, it still had a source. Bowman made sure to play the song for the friend who had inspired it in order to make sure he'd gotten the feeling right. The California native -- who'll hit the road with Bad Suns on their first headlining tour next year -- said that his friend, upon hearing the track, said something like: "These are feelings that I had that I don't even think I understood at the time when I was having them, which made sense in the song."
"That was a really good thing for me, that I didn't butcher it," he added. "I felt happy. That was a really important thing for me."