Movie Club is a Venice Beach-based instrumental rock duo featuring Jessamyn Violet and Vince Cuneo.

Movie Club releases new EP and music video

By Katie Lulla

Venice Beach psych rock band duo Movie Club has collaborated with David Ralicke of Dengue Fever and bass guitarist Tim Lefebvre to create an extended play called “Fangtooth.”

In the EP’s single music video “Trap Door,” the guitarist drummer duo of Jessamyn Violet and Vince Cuneo combines impressive views of the Salton Sea and with a new take on the 1956 short film “The Red Balloon.”

Violet began her musical journey by learning piano as a child. This developed into a love for drumming, where she has spent the last 10 years working on multiple projects in San Francisco and Los Angeles. On the flip side, Cuneo started playing drums but moved on to the guitar.

The pair met in 2017 and bonded over their love of music. They played their first show in 2018.
“We love playing instrumental music. It’s awesome because it’s universal and international,” Cuneo said.

“No matter where you’re from or where you live, you can listen to us and hopefully get something out of it. It’s just me and her playing together so it was definitely a challenge and made me really nervous, but it’s definitely made me grow more than any other project I’ve been in.”

The Venice Beach-based duo pulls their inspiration from the neighborhood. Four of their five albums mirror an aquatic creature. Each one is in black and white, which showcases the Movie Club icon of a rainbow gradient hibiscus. Violet said it represents unity, inclusion and positivity, as well as the psychedelic.

“Our last album was called ‘Black Flamingo,’ the one before that was called ‘Man O’ War,’ which is this crazy kind of jellyfish, then ‘Hammerhead’ and ‘Kraken,’” Cuneo said.

“This one is called ‘Fangtooth,’ which is this really creepy-looking fish.”

In “Fangtooth,” Tim Lefebvre is armed with the bass, and David Ralicke is a utility player, taking on baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet and flute. For the flute, he uses a distortion pedal that makes it almost unrecognizable. It creates what Cuneo describes as a crazy sonic layer.

The “Fangtooth” EP has five tracks: “Badlands,” “Underwater Highway,” “Trap Door,” “Ghost in the Machine” and “Slinky Fish.”

“The first three songs are very building and then we get to the fourth song, ‘Ghost in the Machine,’” Cuneo said. “It pulls it back and then takes you on another journey,” Cuneo said.

“The last song is this happy release. We try to infuse a lot of tension into the songs because these have intense times and we’re always playing off the vibe in Venice and the vibe of the greater world at the same time.”

Violet added, “For us the cool thing about being instrumental is that we don’t have any real rules or themes.
“We keep things minimal and then try to expand on those minimal ideas throughout the song.”

The EP’s single, “Trap Door,” was rooted in the pair’s love for the band Radiohead, whom Violet describes as “the chameleon of bands.” She admires the drummer’s ability to be clean and fast while suiting the needs of the song.
While the riff of “Trap Door” is minimalist, the music video is not. The videographer, Dustin Downing, went the extra mile and used drones to capture amazing views of the almost fictitious looking Salton Sea and the abandoned art.

“He has a location or he a certain idea and then we kind of have some things that were inspired by at the time, then we’ll write what we think is going to happen,” Cuneo said.

“But then when we get together in the location, it just kind of gives us new ideas.”

In addition to the stunning views, the music video is shown in reverse. This makes it seem as if the pair are being followed by balloons as they travel to different locations around the Salton Sea.

Unlike the movie, the balloons change colors in each scene going from red, blue, black to purple, and then a mix of colors with a main group of white.

Violet said the balloon choice came naturally. With music videos, Violet said, musicians shoot and see what works.

“After we shot, the problem was that the song only is less than three minutes long. We had all these amazing shots, so the goal is to fit all the best shots in there,” Violet said.

Like many of the scenes, the costumes also came naturally. Violet found the clothing in thrift stores and matched parts of outfits to create suit sets.

“It was really funny, just like wearing all suits because it looks like a classy thing for a rock band to do,” Cuneo said.

“I like the juxtaposition of being in this really salty, crusty place that’s full of weird, rusty art and dust with us dressed to the nines. I think that’s the thing that made it work and made it pop more. If we had been wearing casual clothes, we would have kind of blended in.”

Cuneo added, “That is the beauty of this. The music video makes visuals that can enhance the sound.
“I think seeing the music video would enhance the way they heard the song and they would hear different things about the song. It showcases different turning points in the song and pauses and makes it more dramatic.”

“Fangtooth” was released on August 10.

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