Gypsy Temple's video for "Today," premiering exclusively below from the Seattle group's debut album King Youngblood, is a case of art recreating, rather than imitating, life.
The scenario is drawn from an experience frontman Cameron Lavi-Jones had four years ago, as a 16-year-old at a summer guitar workshop and festival in Montana where Dweezil Zappa was leading a master class and performing. The son of musicians, Lavi-Jones was not without chops, but he also recognized that the mostly older other attendees "were way better than I was." As the 24/7 noise left him feeling "particularly suicidal," Lavi-Jones took a 2 a.m. kayak trip out onto the lake and rowed "until I couldn't hear any of the noise….so I could feel my own thoughts, just talking myself off the edge. I reminded myself that even though everyone there was probably a better guitarist than I am, that doesn't mean my artistry doesn't matter. Being able to hear myself reminded me that my voice mattered.
"The minute I hit the shore, I started writing 'Today'."
Lavi-Jones found a receptive audience for the song in his bandmates. "When I told the band this story, they were incredibly receptive but further than that they were like, 'Wow, thanks for sharing that. Now let's still do it. Let's put this story in the physical realm!'" he recalls. The two-day shoot involved a great deal of getting wet, including underwater scenes, but Lavi-Jones came out of it feeling grateful and inspired.
"It was an amazing experience," he notes. "It wasn't just that the song came to life but the vision and story and honesty about it came to life, too. That's fantastic."
Gypsy Temple and King Youngblood — out May 17 — have been in the making for 10 years, since Lavi-Jones wrote the song that gave the band its name, inspired by his family's nomadic travels. The group has opened for Pearl Jam, Naked Giants and others over the years. They also recently signed with Val Wolfe at APA. "I'm very excited to be representing Gypsy Temple. They are part of the new wave of alternative rock bands that are bringing electric guitars and strong vocals back. Their talent and songwriting defy their young age, and their future could not be brighter," says Wolfe.
In 2018, Gypsy Temple performed at more than 80 high schools as part of a League of Women Voters registration drive. The group has worked with the National Association for Mental Illness and its national End The Silence campaign, which has helped imbue Gypsy Temple with a sense of purpose beyond streaming statistics and social media followers.
"Really what keeps me going and keeps my mental health in shape is to remember that all the work I'm doing, all the things that stress me out are pointing me towards my goals — goals to be in the music industry and hopefully to make real change with it and help people along the way, especially with their mental health strategies," Lavi-Jones explains. And the group hopes to pursue that with a "stacked" summer tour that will take it up and down the West Coast and perhaps even back to the song's birthplace of Montana.
"This has been 10 years in the making, so it's something I'm incredibly proud of," Lavi-Jones says. "At least for me this record is important and integral to my journey. I think it'll be able to help other people, too, and it only works if we give them access to it, so that's what we're planning to do."