March 23, 2022
Charlotte filmmaker and musician William S. Davis, also known by the moniker Rasmus Leon, has taken a step into his past with his self-directed music video, “Basement.” This single and video arrive just ahead of his debut five-song EP, and the Foothills, which is due out this spring.
Davis, who has directed a number of music videos and short films for his Charlotte musician peers, found a solemn creative opportunity in misfortune near the beginning of the pandemic. It was then that he traveled to his hometown of Wilkesboro, North Carolina to begin dismantling his 30-year family home due to the failing health of his mother. Davis had lived in that home for his entire life, and he used the painful process of tearing it down as the foundation for his music video. He also tracked the vocals for this single in the home during filming, bringing an especially personal touch to this project.
Davis utilized general footage he shot in present-day Wilkes County, alongside archived footage of the county’s past, exhibiting two different glimpses of the small town. In the video he includes the spaces, people, and landscapes that speak “home” to Davis, and how that concept has changed.
The video for “Basement” starts with a literal opening of the door into Davis’ childhood home and expands into a visual collection of Wilkesboro’s memories as they clash with its present, utilizing quick jump cuts between contemporary and archived footage. Rather than bright, vibrant colors, nearly everything is presented in gray and brown tones, even the modern footage. The viewer sees the town through the lens of a distant memory.
These visual elements give the video a jaunty and melancholy feeling, similar to the music of the single. Using a subdued vocal tone and staccato, minor-key piano with light drums, Davis captures a dreary, almost Dickensonian mood for “Basement” right off the bat.
Lyrically, “Basement” keeps itself a mystery. Much like the video, the song describes an apparent recollection of a moment from Davis’ past; it’s a possible escape from circumstance, but there’s little specificity to be found. Davis croons, “I think I finally get it. I can see it… At the bottom… with the coral and the shadows, something else shines” as he discovers the value of something cherished, perhaps what it means to be home.
“Basement” serves as a collage of Davis’ upbringing, what he was taught to understand as important, and how that perception has been altered and even betrayed by the passage of time.
Watch the music video for “Basement” by Rasmus Leon performing live at Petra’s on Thursday, March 24 with Cinders and JPH.