Alan Vega 'DTM' Music Video Out Now + LP Out Friday
Today, FADER Label announced the official music video for Alan Vega's track "DTM" off his posthumous album IT, due out this Friday, July 14th. Watch the music video for "DTM" here. The video features previously unreleased performance footage of Vega from the late 1970s-80s provided by both Ric Ocasek (The Cars) and filmmaker Marc Hurtado. Including Vega's performances at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles and New York City's famed nightlife club Limelight, which Vega frequented, the video demonstrates his intensity on stage and the purpose and commitment he expressed - often putting himself through physical harm during performances - in his dedication and belief in his work.
"He always said the turning point for him as an artist was seeing Iggy Pop perform," says Liz Lamere, Vega's wife and musical collaborator. "Initially Alan's main focus was visual art, but he knew in order to push himself as an artist, he needed to do the one thing that he never thought he would ever do...become a singer and performer."
The video additionally features shots of Vega's artwork, filmed by Hurtado, including portrait drawings and light sculpture, symbolizing themes in the lyrics for "DTM" and throughout IT. Vega's portraits, created nightly as a form of catharsis, represent the universal every man, and the human condition. Vega's massive light sculpture of Jesus on the cross, which was featured in the MAC Lyon as part of the museum's retrospective of Vega's visual art in 2009, mirrors themes that run throughout much of his solo career: religion, death, resurrection, despair and hope.
Beginning in 2010 until the time of his death in July 2016, Vega wrote and recorded his eleventh solo album IT along with his wife Liz Lamere in New York City. Vega found inspiration for the sound and messages throughout IT by consuming global news and taking frequent late-night walks alone throughout the streets of downtown New York. Recording sounds from the streets and subways, and habitually photographing his surroundings, Vega would return home to write what would become the lyrics for IT.
The album will be released this Friday, July 14th, digitally and on vinyl with a 2-LP gatefold including unpublished drawings, writings, and photos by Vega. The digital album is now available for pre-orderhere, and the standard vinyl can be pre-ordered via Amazon.com here. A special limited release of IT will also be available on transparent orange vinyl, sold exclusively at select indie retail stores. Fans can find which local stores are carrying the record by searching by their zip code, here.
Leading up to the one-year anniversary of Vega's passing, New York City is hosting a series of events deemed "Alan Vega Week" including exhibits and performances in his memory. INVISIBLE-EXPORTS is currently featuring Keep IT Alive, an exhibition of Vega's final series of work, acrylic and graphite "Spirit" paintings, as well as historic light sculptures. On July 18th, Deitch Projects will open Dream Baby Dream, a comprehensive exhibition commemorating Vega's life and work, including video projections of historic performances by Suicide, and a selection of Vega's sculptures and works on paper from the 1960s to his last works in 2016. Both gallery exhibits are on display through July 29th.
Alan Vega - IT
2. Dukes God Bar
5. Screamin Jesus
6. Motorcycle Explodes
About Alan Vega: With a blast of electronics and that infamous feral farewell howl, Alan Vega's last transmission IT comes back to warn our world. An uncompromising iconoclast who operated at the absolute fringes of sound - pop, rock, electronic, spoken word or otherwise - for over four decades, first as one-half of the heavily influential duo Suicide and then as a solo artist, Vega envisioned IT (his eleventh solo album) as both his masterpiece and final statement.
"Life is no joke," he growls on album opener "DTM," short for "Dead to Me." And there was a seriousness and sense of purpose with which Vega approached his life as gesamtkunstwerk, a complete work of visionary art without compromise, restriction, self-censorship or fear. Five years before the sound of New York City's downtown scene came to be classified as "punk," Vega and bandmate Martin Rev staged a 1971 event called "A Punk Music Mass" at a Manhattan art gallery space. From that moment forward, Vega-Rev unleashed a no-holds-barred war on the artistic and musical sensibilities of the downtown scene as Suicide.
"Every night we went out to play, I fully expected to die," Vega said. "Most other bands would have been discouraged and given up. To most people, it might have sounded like what we were doing was insane. But we loved it and had total belief in it."
Rather than rely on classic rock 'n' roll instrumentation, the duo assaulted ears with little more than Rev's Farfisa organ and gutted drum machines and Vega's terrifying, in-your-face growl. They mauled audiences during their heyday and were a paradigm shift to numerous generations of musicians the world over. Hardcore punk and synth-pop, industrial music and techno, even rock 'n' roll itself, were all swayed by the gravitational pull of Suicide. In no uncertain terms, Suicide encouraged the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Nick Cave, Björk, M.I.A., Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, R.E.M., LCD Soundsystem, Savages, Pet Shop Boys, Dead Kennedys and Daft Punk, to name just a few, to fearlessly realize their own vision.
Suicide came to be seen as the ultimate in audience confrontation and rock nihilism, even if the group also sought to accentuate the 'life force' of this world as well. "[Suicide] were about recognizing how alive things were," Vega said. "When it came to our live shows, we didn't want to entertain people. We wanted to throw the meanness and nastiness of the street right back at the audience. Some nights we'd barricade the doors so they had no choice but to stay and listen. Every night was like fighting a revolution."
Born in Brooklyn, Alan Vega was reared on the rock 'n' roll sound of Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison, but originally struck out on a career as a visual artist and light sculptor, making pieces out of electronic debris. But on the occasion of seeing Iggy Pop fronting the Stooges at The Stooges at the New York State Pavilion in 1969 was an epiphany for Vega. "It showed me you didn't have to do static artworks, you could create situations," he said. "That show was the first time in my life the audience and the stage merged into one." It was that eradication of barriers between the two that Vega took to heart.
Their first two albums, 1977's Suicide and their 1980 follow-up, remain two of the era's greatest touchstones, beacons for others seeking to transform their worlds with sound. And even during the group's hiatus through the 1980s, Vega continued to pursue his singular vision across an individualistic solo output. From his 1980 self-titled debut and rockabilly-infused albums like Saturn Strip, through bracing albums like Power On to Zero Hour and now IT, Vega forged his own singular path.
For all the darkness and despair that encompasses this moment in our world - and despite his work being depicted as bleak and nihilistic - for Vega there was always a sense of hope and a place for dreams to become reality. "People have always told me that my music is angry," he said. "To me, it was always just an energy. It was the way I perceived the world. The key Suicide song was 'Dream Baby Dream,' which was about the need to keep our dreams alive. I knew back then that something poisonous was encroaching on our lives, on all our freedoms." He fights to his very last breath for that freedom on IT, his last will and testament, one that cements Vega's legacy as a seer: "People have always said that my work was ahead of its time. But I've always believed it's been right on time."