KEXP producer Owen Murphy spoke to the band Soft Cavalry, featuring Rachel Goswell (Slowdive, Minor Victories) and her husband, songwriter Steve Clarke, about the powerful inspiration behind their video for the song "Bulletproof" and what the future holds for this band after the release of their self-titled debut, out now via Bella Union.
KEXP: Rachel, you incorporated British Sign Language in your video for "Bulletproof." Can you tell us why you did that?
Rachel: The reason behind that is because my son, Jesse, is profoundly deaf. He's got no auditory nerves, so for Jesse everything is visual. For a very long time I've wanted to do a video incorporating sign language, partly so that it would be something that in future years he can look at and hopefully understand. He's got very limited understanding because he's got additional needs on top of being deaf. He's got a syndrome called CHARGE. And also, partly for the the wider deaf community. I mean there are videos out there of people signing. But having had Jesse and seeing the challenges that a deaf child faces in the world day to day, I wanted to do something that would make sense to deaf viewers. Quite often with some of the videos you'll see with sign language that's not actual sort of full sign language. It's signing the songs literally, like verbatim word-for-word, which for a deaf person wouldn't really make that much sense. So a lot of the stuff you see is signed-supported English. I was adamant that's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to do a full BSL video basically and wanted to keep it visually very simple. Because it's sign language, it wouldn't have made sense if I'd also mouthed the words to the signing because some of the signs are different to the words as well.
Steve: We had to work quite hard, as well, for a good month or so with this this lady called Emily to kind of properly translate the song because there's a lot of metaphors in the lyric. She was asking, "What exactly do you mean by that?" So I had to explain to her kind of what each line was about. It's like a a song writer's worst nightmare, but she really did a good job and eventually came up with something which makes sense.
Rachel: Yeah! Emily actually taught me Level 2 BSL, so I've known for a number of years. It was good working with her on it.
Well, it's funny how these things reveal themselves to you even after you've written a story. What from your point of view as Jesse's mom makes him unique and beautiful?
Rachel: Jesse has taught me a lot over the years with the syndrome that he has. He's faced a lot of challenges as have we as his parents. He had heart surgery when he was five months old. He was born with a heart condition. He didn't walk unaided till he was 4. His balance organs are only partially full, so Jesse doesn't feel dizzy. He likes a lot of movement because of that, and he's one of the happiest people I know.
Steve: Yeah! Most of the time things that other kids get wound up about don't bother him in the slightest. I'd say a good 78 percent of the time he's on top of the world, isn't he? You know his own little world.
Rachel: It just makes you look at life in a very different way.
Are you touring this record?
Rachel: Initially, we were actually just doing a couple of shows in the UK. We're looking at a few installs at Rough Trade shops in the UK and some proper touring in October.
Is there any Slowdive or Minor Victories news that the world should know about?
Rachel: Nothing at the moment, no. Slowdive are taking a well-earned rest this year. We were out in Chicago in February doing Pitchfork, but that was our last gig for a while.
Steve: We did go to Stuart Mogwai's wedding and we did chat about the idea of more Minor Victories stuff.
Rachel: We did actually sit down at the end of the night all quite drunk, and we came up with a loose plan of what the next record will sound like.
Steve: And we've not spoken about it since.
Rachel: No, but we've just moved house. It's summer, so everyone else is busy. There will be another Minor Victories record. I don't know how long it's going to take us to do, but the thought process is a start.
The duo of Slowdive's Rachel Goswell and her spouse Steve Clarke share a new music video in sign language.
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