VIDEO PREMIERE | Hunter Hooligan, "Ecstasy" ft. TT the Artist
Returning to the progressive and creative hotbed of Baltimore — we present the world premiere of Hunter Hooligan’s video for “Ecstasy” featuring and directed by TT the Artist with cinematography by Nick Gorey. Featured off Hunter’s Child of Venus (Act 1) EP, the visual pays homage to the local art scene that inspired the artist and many more that call Bmore home. Having been featured in TT the Artist’s film Dark City, Beneath the Beat that showcases the undersung heroes of the city’s underground and underserved communities; Hooligan and TT’s collaboration can be witnessed both on the joyful track and seen in real time throughout the mediums of film, direction, curation, paint, mixed media and copious amounts of inspiration unbound.
Filmed initially during Artscape 2018 during rain showers; TT, Hunter and Nick Gorey take all the action to locales from the top floor of Baltimore’s Copycat building, the studio of artist Brooks Kossover, Druid Hill Park, rooftops and anywhere. Featuring appearances from Alex Shade, Rye Anne, Hazel, Tyler Peterson, Caitlin Weaver, Zoë Jenkins, Tom Ware, Perri B.B., Randi Withani, Denise Herrera, Ian Andrews, John Polanco and more; the song & visual is a celebration and testament to Bmore’s culture that thrives beyond the negative headlines in collective bonds that prove strength in numbers as artists of all disciplines working to lift and build one another upward.
Hunter Hooligan and TT the Artist take the audience by the hand through the rainy days, sunny mornings and many moments of jubilation found in their beloved hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. From impromptu dance parties, opportunities to let their collaborative lights shine to immortalizing one another in visual portraits (via myriad mediums) — "Ecstasy" rolls high off a message of togetherness that further defines the eclectic cultural melting pot that shines with an aura of resilience and awe to anyone remotely further with the iconic city's DIY scenes. Hunter and TT gather their perceptions and visions of poly-chromatic kaleidoscope crafts in a unifying blend of sights and sounds that move to a dancehall groove of shared camaraderie, creative partnerships and everlasting friendship. The two along with all of their fellow cohorts combine forces to highlight the power of bringing together people of all heritages, socio-economic backgrounds, identities and everyone that exists beyond the binary polemics. "Ecstasy" is an anthem designed with a strong sense of hope for tomorrow that only could have been made in Baltimore and could not have arrived a moment sooner.
Both Hunter Hooligan and TT the Artist reflected on their audio/visual collaboration, the Bmore scenes and more in the following interview exclusive:
Describe the feeling and ways that you two respectively define "Ecstasy".
TT: Ecstasy is all about being in a state of bliss. For a moment experiencing 100% freedom.
Hunter: For me, Ecstasy is a kind of transcendence. Ecstasy is the absence of fear, the dissolution of doubt, and the action of letting go of all lower vibrations of consciousness. Ecstasy is the surrender to joy, vulnerability, and love in the presence of spiritual liberation. It’s pure and it’s very sacred.
Insights into the current state of the Baltimore scene.
TT: I have always felt like the scene in Baltimore has been super underground and flying just below the mainstream radar. Baltimore's creative scene is at a critical turning point like it's never been before. I believe Baltimore is on the verge of presenting the next wave of talent in music and art.
Hunter: Baltimore is about to blow. You can really feel the energy building here. The whole city is overcome with talent, overwhelmed with the magic of so many incredible artists. Baltimore has always been full of potential and possibilities and I think right now, there is a generation of artists who know what they want to do with that. I think it’s one of the most exciting places to be in America right now, artistically speaking. Both mine and TT’s mutual admiration and obsession with Baltimore was the basis of the inspiration for this video.
Thoughts on the ways the local inclusive DIY sects strengthens senses of community, togetherness and more.
Hunter: What I genuinely appreciate about Baltimore is that artists here are really doing their own thing. Each one of us has our own vision, our own identity, our own perspective. And what that does is create space for each other in a scene that values difference, variety, and diversity. It places emphasis on the message and intention of the music being made, rather than what it sounds like or looks like. When you go to a show in Baltimore you’re likely to see a bill stacked with representatives from entirely different genres that are gathered together because something deeper is uniting us all.
TT: For an artist in the process of building a creative career and brand, it is all about connecting and building relationships within your community. It's important to engage and build platforms that can further spread your movement and awareness. The DIY approach is how an artist gets first hand experience in the field of artist development. Artists can create a strong local fan base through carving out a niche audience that will later influence the awareness of the artist's presence.
Notes on approaches to how the two of you collaborate across the disciplines of sounds and visions.
TT: When Hunter reached out to me I was 100% locked in to his vision. I have always been a cross genre artist not defined by one sound. I wanted to deliver a verse that would compliment the message and vibe of the song. I think of this song as an anthem that can be used as a campaign song or placed in a film. I think we need more positive messaging in music that brings people together and shows diversity coming out of Baltimore. We literally tried to find a premiere for the video within the past year. It was amazing to see how many platforms are unresponsive to music that is positive. I believe Hunter is one of the artists out of Baltimore who is delivering quality production with amazing vocal ability that people need to experience.
Hunter: To me, TT is one of the most hardworking, authentic, generous, and motivating artists I’ve ever seen. She is an absolute blue print for every independent artist out there right now. If you are wondering how to make a career, look at what TT is doing. And not just the strategy of her climb, not just the mechanics of her success—which in and of themselves are awe-inspiring— but also take into account the attitude with which she moves through this business and look at the way she incorporates her desire to uplift, to share, to teach, and to connect with other artists. TT is the definition of a true leader. She has helped me along this path for many years, both directly and indirectly. Whenever I can work with her, and in whatever capacity, I approach each opportunity with nothing but total trust, absolute faith, and deep gratitude. I am so lucky to have worked with her on parties and shows, on her own album, in her film, on this song, and this video. She’s the definition of a jack of all trades and I know every opportunity for us to spend time is going to leave me feeling smarter, stronger, and more empowered.
Behind the scenes perspectives on the construction of song and visuals for "Ecstasy".
TT: As the director, when I originally set out to film Ecstasy I wanted to capture the beauty of Baltimore's art culture. We decided to film during Artscape weekend. Artscape is one of the largest art festivals in the country and an annual event that brings out people from all over the city. I envisioned bright backdrops on a sunny day and documenting the festivalgoers... only problem is it rained the entire day. We managed to get a group shot of our crew singing and dancing in the rain, but we had to think fast to find another solution around the rain. So we used a space at the Copy Cat, an artist live-in and workspace apartment building, to film the remaining parts to the video. Everything ended up working out. Our director of photography Nick Gorey, was so flexible and great at capturing our vision.
Hunter: I had originally worked on Ecstasy with a producer and friend, Tom Ware, inspired by a fashion line by another collaborator, Stevie Boi. By the time the whole “Child of Venus” project was nearing completion, I sat down with Tom and with my executive producer James Nasty and we decided to revisit Ecstasy. When it evolved into the version you hear on the EP now, I knew I wanted TT on it. For me, the song is about sharing space with those who inspire you to be the best version of yourself, and TT is the epitome of that in my life. I approached her about it, and I’m so thankful she took it on.
For the video, I knew I wanted TT and Nick Gorey involved. I had been working on other visual projects with Nick for quite some time and had so much respect and trust in his greatness, so I had full faith to put the camera in his hands. And I’m so lucky he said yes, because I can’t imagine anyone else capturing the beauty we wanted to showcase in the way he did. We were also really lucky to have Rose DiFerdinando on the crew with us. She had everything organized in advance and made this really big shoot possible.
When it came to TT directing the video, it was kind of the intuitive choice. I had just worked with her on the set of her film “Dark City Beneath the Beat” and it was such a special experience. I believe so strongly in the vision she brings to whatever she touches. Her contributions on the song were entirely essential to the song reaching it’s full potential and I felt like she could express our vision of the record so perfectly an effortlessly. I could not have made this song everything it is without her and the vision she brought to it, so the video had to reflect that!
Everything that everybody gets wrong about Baltimore.
TT: People think Baltimore is all about violence, poverty, drug epidemic and trauma. Within any inner cities you will find these issues, however Baltimore is all about community. There is a very rich and cultural history and a lot of artists coming out of Baltimore. I make it a mission through my work to show Baltimore in a positive light and spread awareness about upcoming talent out of the city.
Hunter: Baltimore is beautifully complicated! Baltimore is often burdened by outdated, inaccurate and oversimplified media narratives. A perfect example being the national coverage of the Baltimore Uprising, or even more recently, Trump’s tweets. I think this oversimplified perception is intimately connected to racism and Baltimore being dismissed as a majority black city. There is so much ignorance about the thriving culture of diversity that is produced, protected, valued, and uplifted in black majority cities. White supremacy destroys non-homogenous culture, while Baltimore is allowed to be as diverse as it is because of vanguards everywhere within the community who champion for it. Baltimore is home to people from so many different ways of life experiencing every single thing that life has to offer. As a city, we defy, reject, and disarm every attempt at being oversimplified by anyone.
Everything that everybody needs to know about Baltimore right now.
TT: I have a film "Dark City Beneath The Beat," that I have spent the past decade conceiving and creating. "Dark City Beneath The Beat," is a music documentary about the rising Baltimore club music and dance community. I believe this film will shed more light on what type of arts are coming out of Baltimore while addressing the social climate of the city. Watch the trailer:
Hunter: People need to know the specific names of those that are dedicated to elevating Baltimore as well as the names of upcoming artists here. Musically, I’m thinking of James Nasty, Trillnatured, DJ Pancakes, DJ Ducky Dynamo, Hoeteps, DDm, Abdu Ali, Joy Postell, Butch Dawson, Super City, Eze Jackson, Pangelica, Kotic Couture, Infinity Knives, Randi Withani, Vosh, Rovo Monty, Outcalls, Al Rogers, Chiffon, Micah E. Wood, Amnesia, Baby Kahlo, Strange Attractor, Miss Kam, MovaKween, and of course TT the Artist. I’m also thinking of the Oven Theatre Company, and drag performers like Baby, Venus Fastrada, Dee Dee Derèon, Chris Jay, Washington Heights, Bombalicious Eklaver, and Bambi. I’m also thinking of people like Nick Gorey, Tyler Davis, Perri B.B., Lawrence Burney, Sydney Allen, Shae McCoy, and TORTILLAGURL who are all helping to document, chronicle, and archive what’s happening here within their own work. These are some of the people you need to know about if you want to know what Baltimore is about.
We are reaching a turning point, as TT said earlier. And the progress is being lead by artists— not labels, not corporations, not the government. What Baltimore lacks in supportive infrastructure it makes up for in the talent, ingenuity, and resourcefulness of our people. Artists are finding a way here and DIY scenes across the country should really be looking at what we’re doing right now. Because these culture vultures have definitely been watching Baltimore for a long time. And the future history will reveal all that has been lifted, taken, and stolen from Baltimore.
Future works, collaborations and more that the world needs to know about.
Hunter: As excited as I am to finally share this video, I’m already thinking about what’s next. I am in the midst of editing another video for a song called “One Day at a Time” from the Child of Venus (Act 1) EP, so that should be making it’s way to the world soon.
I am in the midst of mixing and mastering “Child of Venus (Act 2)” which is the sequel/companion EP to Act 1, naturally. I’m hoping to have it out no later than February of 2020. Act 1 is such a perfect introduction to who I am and it offered a lot, but Act 2 dives a little deeper, I think. Act 2 plays with some more experimental sounds, strays away from standard pop song structure at points, and features a few collaborations I’m really excited to share with the world.
While I’ve been performing in support of Act 1, I’ve added a few covers to my live set that I’m interested in recording. I love when artists do covers that parallel their original work. At my shows I’ve been performing a deep house version of the folk song “Rainbow Connection” from the 1979 Muppets movie, and an electro-pop version of “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. I’d love to record Yoko Ono’s “I Have A Woman Inside My Soul,” and an acoustic piano version of Björk’s “Venus as a Boy” as well.
I’m also in the midst of writing two brand new projects. Both are very conceptual, but different from each other in their content. One is concerned with our relationship with masculinity and the other is concerned with our relationship with technology.
Right now, I’m really focused on utilizing social media to distribute more art under the Hunter Hooligan umbrella. I want to find ways to share myself and my story through my platforms and integrate those platforms fully into the entire music experience. I have some great ideas on exactly how I plan to do that, but for now I’ll say to keep your eyes on my Instagram over the next few weeks. I’ll be sharing some stuff I’m really proud of.
TT: Creatively, I have been on a high. Some of my recent collaborations have expanded beyond music and crossed over into my visual arts. Most recently, I have been designing Steve Aoki's tour clothing so that has been a great collaboration because I get to show more of my visual arts. [Here’s] a video of Steve djaying in my custom painted overalls:
And here are photos of Steve in my clothes via Instagram pics.
I have also had a chance to design furniture textile prints for Red Bull Miami office at last year's Art Basel. I hope to get more into product and merch design as well as working on a couple of books and film scripts.
Last year I launched my own record label Club Queen Records, a women focused platform all about pushing female voices to the forefront in music with a special interests in women of color in pop, hip hop, rnb and dance music. Since my label launch we have been hosting women in music panels and showcases. I recently premiered a collaboration on my label with Oakland's own Kreayshawn called "Do My Thang," produced by Unkle Funkle and So Drove. I am working on the next release Club Queens II featuring productions by Jersey's Club Queen Uniiqu3. I am back in the studio working on my next solo project with my long time collaborator Mighty Mark. You can also look out for "Dark City Beneath The Beat," to be hitting the film festival markets in 2020.
I'm all about the independent grind right now and creating my own platforms that I can share with other artists.
Collective visions of a constructive, conscious and beautiful tomorrow.
TT: Lead with compassion, help others, don't bring others down to lift yourself, define your goals daily and execute, take advantage of making best use of your time. I'm happy to be here...you only have one life to live so obsessing over what is out of your control is a distraction from fulfilling your purpose. Mind the business that pays you!
Hunter: My manifesto is always growing, but right now it reads something like: 1) Always embrace evolution. 2) Be smart enough to know that you know nothing. 3) I am a “We” thing, not a “Me” thing. 4) Our best attempts at tomorrow are what we create together…. An original mantra I often return to is “Be in the now for as now as you can.” I believe that is a path out of fear and toward Ecstasy.