European video premiere on Soundreef! “Wake” is the new single from The Bright Silence album TIME IS NEW
Kevin Johnston founded The Bright Silence back in 2010 – the band has been defined by John Norris from MTV as “Rousing, anthemic and remarkably intimate”. During the years, Johnston drew attention to himelf from the New York songwriting scene, playing on the national TV show “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and collaborating with Kjartan Sveinsson from Sigur Ros.
“Wake” is not just a single, but it’s a song that showed how big a community spirit can be. Watch it below and read Kevin’s interview.
Where were you when you heard about Niko’s situation and how did you and the other musicians come up with “Wake”?
“Wake” has a long history! I heard about Niko’s situation while I was living and making music in Park Slope Brooklyn. Amazingly, that was all the way back in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the US. Niko was a sound engineer at a small, wonderful music venue called Bar4. I worked at Bar4. It was a community hub for singer-songwriters in Brooklyn and we all heard about how his house was flooded with several feet of water in the days after the storm. We would get together every Tuesday for the Open Mic there, which became somewhat legendary. This Open Mic has spawned artists like BrightSilence, Lucius, The Lone Bellow, Wakey Wakey, Steve Waitt, and more before closing in 2013. The Tuesday after the hurricane, we decided to secretly get as many musicians to play the open mic, pass a bucket around the room to collect donations from the crowd and donate all the tips earned at the bar that night directly to Niko and his mother. The money we raised helped relocate them to an inhabitable house and to replace and restore some of their furniture, etc.
Sometime in the months that followed I wrote “Wake” about the feeling we all had in doing something, however small, to help out a member of our community. It was an amazing little example of the power a community has to join together for a worthy cause; helping out one of their own in a time of need. For me, the song comes from the experience with Niko, the Hurricane and Bar4, but it speaks to the concept of being there for your community in the face of depression, loss, or low points of any kind.
Has your local community always been a source of inspiration for your songwriting process?
The community being a source of inspiration: Yes. My personal journey has been super interesting in the past two years since recording of the album TIME IS NEW started. With the release, European tour, relocation to Colorado from NYC, I have found that my community is far more widespread than I realised. The video and song illustrate not only the travel and change I have been through, but also literally features the voices and faces of nearly 100 people from all over the world. These fans, friends, band members, engineers, singers, etc are what make the video interesting and unique. Quite literally, this video is an example of how “it takes a village” to make something special happen.
How’s Nico and his family doing today?
Niko is currently back living in Brooklyn! He moved to Arizona for a while and as far as I know has continued to be a sound Engineer in the same neighbourhood where Bar4 once stood. His mother is once again living in Sheepshead Bay – the same neighbourhood that was so affected by the storm in 2012. She is doing well, but sadly was missed the passing of her mother just 3 days before she planned to visit her in Greece.