Erik Jacobs, Anthem Multimedia/Courtesy of the Artist
Suz Slezak and David Wax of David Wax Museum.
Suz Slezak and David Wax of David Wax Museum. Erik Jacobs, Anthem Multimedia/Courtesy of the Artist
This is one infectious band. I saw David Wax Museum first onstage this past summer at the Newport Folk Festival, and I was pretty much a fan by the show's end. But when the festival was over, and the Newport crew and musicians gathered to share some smiles and beer, there they were again, playing for the crowd with just a guitar, a donkey jawbone and frenetic ass-kicking fun.
This video features "Born With a Broken Heart," from the band's third album, Everything Is Saved. It's due out February 3. Band members David Wax and Suz Slezak are inspired by the folk music of Mexico. Here, they talk about those influences and how they put this video together:
Suz Slezak: Fiddle and Voice
"It was barely 40 degrees when we climbed into the back of the red pickup truck, teeth chattering, to film our first music video. With a backdrop of perfect New England foliage, we spent two chilly days from dawn to dusk singing our hearts out in a variety of locales: the back of the truck, downtown Boston, on and off the Red Line train, a grass maze, an old stately barn, and busy street corners in Harvard Square. Playing in so many different types of venues is actually one of the ways we've made a living as folk musicians since 2009, when I quit my job to go on the road full-time. In fact, a full third of our shows have been in the living rooms and backyards of fans around the country. I think what shocked me the most was the number of new fans we made during the video shoot: There was the guy on the train we convinced to be an extra who ended up coming out to a show the next week and even bringing a friend. And then there was the British family that we also roped in as extras in the Harvard Square busking scene. They happened to be visiting Boston from their home in Paris and asked about the name of our band. When we told them, the father said, to our surprise, that he'd heard us already on NPR's All Songs Considered, which he follows faithfully from Paris."
David Wax: Guitar and Voice
"Filming part of the music video in the Boston subway station brought me back full-circle to the beginning of my Boston music career. When I moved back to Massachusetts after a year in Mexico studying folk music, I started playing music out by busking in the subway stations. It didn't last long — trying to play without amplification, competing with the churning subway cars, and the strange feeling of watching everyone else head to work. But most striking for me was the disjunction of playing Mexican folk songs outside of a rural Mexican context. I had learned many of the songs at all-night fandangos (Mexican hootenannies), on the open-aired patio of a teacher's house overlooking the mountains outside of Morelia, in the instrument workshop of Ramon Gutierrez of Son de Madera amidst the smell of freshly carved cedar, and alongside corn milpas in the coffee region of the Huasteca. I marveled at how I found myself back in Boston trying to play these same songs in the bustling subway stations. It felt like I was taking a tropical flower and trying to plant it in the desert. How was I supposed to play 'El Querreque' without anyone dancing along? How was I supposed to play 'El Celoso' when no one listening had a relationship to the particular landscape and flora of the song or could hear in their heads the swelling of jaranas and requintos buzzing around me in my ears? I started to wonder how I could play the Mexican music I had fallen in love with, but in a way that made sense to the people around me, to the passengers on the subway platform.
"Shortly after giving up on performing in the subways, I started to translate Mexican folk songs into English and began composing on my Mexican guitars, using the rhythms and song structures I had learned in Veracruz and Michoacan. Over time, I built up a catalog of Mexo-Americana songs. 'Born With a Broken Heart' is one of those."