Damien Verrett, the Sacramento native behind So Much Light, had about $500 to make the music video for “Let It Absorb You.” But with a little help from some friends—and his own chops in directing, producing and special effects—Verrett pulled off this pleasing slice of nostalgia for the second single on his latest album Oh, Yuck, released today. We caught up with Verrett for a quick chat on mirror critters and festival zen.
VOICES: River City: Tell me about the music video for “Let It Absorb You.” It seems to be a direct nod to Labyrinth, right?
Damien Verrett: Yeah, so it’s a nod to Labyrinth and then this made-for-TV movie from 1985 called The Hugga Bunch.
V:RC: That was my sister’s fucking favorite movie growing up!
DV: Really? Have you seen it?
V:RC: Yeah, when I was like 6.
DV: So I saw that maybe eight years ago for the first time, and it was the best thing I’d ever seen. It was the highest budget made-for-TV movie ever at the time, and it’s just kind of like a shitty Labyrinth. So when we were asked what the concept for the video was, that’s what we would tell people. We were like, “It’s shitty Labyrinth. We’re making the shoestring version of Labyrinth.”
V:RC: Who’d you work with on it?
DV: I worked with my really good friend Ellen Howes, who did all of the set and costume design and as a result played a huge role in the artistic direction. She was all about The Hugga Bunch when we both watched it. It’s kind of disturbing how the main character in it just goes along with this little critter that comes out of the mirror without any kind of exposition.
In Labyrinth, at least, her brother gets kidnapped so she’s kind of obligated to go on this journey. But in The Hugga Bunch it’s not really explained where this thing came from or what it is. I feel like it’s objectively disturbing, the way it looks and how its eyes are just unblinking and emotionless. And she’s just like, “Yeah, I’ll crawl into the mirror with you. Whatever.” It should be this moment of existential crisis, and instead she just goes with it. I always thought that was really fun.
V:RC: That speaks directly to the lyrics of the song, too.
DV: Yeah. The song is about this “festival zen” that you see people subscribing to. You know, the LED hula hoops and crystal healing stuff. And it’s not—I don’t think it’s altogether harmful. But I like to imagine it fully extrapolated to its logical conclusion, which would be like someone reaching nirvana, but their ego is still there with them. And I thought that was a really interesting idea. So the whole way through the song, they’re like, “Do you wanna let go? I didn’t think so.” Kind of bragging about how mindful they are.V:RC: Like, how can those two things exist at once, right?
DV: Exactly. And all these Instagram yogis. Stuff like that cropping up made me think of it.
V:RC: The song has a total nostalgic vibe. Where’s that coming from for you?
DV: I grew up listening to a lot of ’80s music. Not a ton of the synth pop that it harkens back to. It’s funny ’cause I feel like there’s ’80s, and then there’s this new sort of quotation-marks ’80s vibe from the Drive soundtrack. For me it’s like that, where it has the tropes and the big reverb on the snare drum. It’s like the same way that Stranger Things is ’80s, where it has all of the cues, but within the framework of modern pop culture.
Oh, Yuck is available at www.somuchlight.com, and on all major streaming services. So Much Light plays next at the Red Museum’s Red Ex: Vol. 1 fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 26, and supporting Geographer at Harlow’s Restaurant and Night Club on Thursday, Sept. 14.