Chicago-based rock band Clara May want you to listen very closely. Headed by Indian-American filmmaker, songwriter and musician Tom Silva, the band are striving to highlight the struggles of immigrants who are treated as second-class citizens — or not even as citizens. And on their latest album, American Desi (due out October 8th), Clara May highlight some of the injustices perpetrated against these people and bring to light the daily hardships of their lives. “American Desi charts the inner journey of an immigrant to America,” Silva explains. “He’s wowed by the American dream, but is forced to face the reality that, for this country’s 11 million undocumented aliens, it can be an even harder life than what they left behind.”
And on “Badlands,” the first single released from their upcoming album, the band layers throbbing bass lines, chugging guitar riffs, and Silva’s affecting baritone to convey the sense of dread and hopelessness that these people feel on a day to day basis. Silva talks about the origins of “Badlands”: “The song grew out of wanting to represent what an illegal immigrant feels like in a new culture. I deeply love America, but the truth is that half of new aliens have no health insurance and less than a high school education. Many do not see their family or friends for decades and feel trapped.”
For the video to the song, Silva and the band wanted to represent the struggles in a visually striking way, and so they paired up with California-based animator John Michael Bister, who took as his inspiration the crude –though effective — animation of Terry Gilliam and Robert Smigel. Depicting scenes of unrest and protest and injustice from around the world, Bister creates a world where people in these scenes sing along to “Badlands.” Silva elaborates, “Our animator John Bister found stunning archival footage and created the idea of having oppressed people around the world singing the song with us. The effect is feeling them rise in unison to challenge their oppressors.”
Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere the video for “Badlands,” taken from Clara May’s upcoming sophomore album, American Desi.