Once based in Omaha, Tilly and the Wall's members have since scattered to the four winds: They live in different cities, and their busy lives led to a lengthy hiatus following the 2008 release of O. Still, even after a long absence, the band's music embodies unity, togetherness and empowerment.
Known for employing a tap dancer in lieu of a drummer, the group crafts sunnily clattering dance parties with a bawdy edge and a flair for affirmation. The first single from the band's forthcoming, inaccurately titled Heavy Mood, "Defenders" revolves around a characteristically raging chorus — "We're not afraid to live / No, we're not afraid to die" — and persistent reminders to rail against bullies and naysayers. ("No matter what they take, remember who you are.")
The "Defenders" video does nothing to dampen that enthusiasm toward youthful independence, as Tilly and the Wall takes to the desert — as so many bands are wont to do nowadays — to dance and play alongside children, while also nodding to band member Kianna Alarid's Native American heritage. Here's Alarid on "Defenders":
"The message of this song is one of absolute empowerment, especially for the youths who aren't yet fully conditioned to the oppressive boundaries of our culture. I grew up in 29 Palms, so I really wanted to set the scene of this story in the place where my first real childhood memories began. The story involves a lot of my family's essence, including Native American kachina lore, true magick and the desert."
And here's director Ben Fee:
"Kianna wrote to me about collaborating on an idea involving kachina dolls in a music video. Pretty much everything Kianna (and Tilly and the Wall) makes, I thoroughly enjoy. We've been friends for years, and this was the first time we've been able to collaborate, and it was such a blast.
"We took the base notion of kachina dolls, quickly roped in Kianna's longtime friend and stylist Peggy Noland (whose work I've loved for years) and started building our ideas from there. The song 'Defenders,' to me, sounds like a rebel yell of eternal youth. It's like a splash of the future, and so that's what we wanted to do for the video: make a mashup of some crazy existence of desert-life kids and these living, breathing and singing insane kachina dolls, which are the band — including transportation into a place of immortality and timelessness with a bundle of little inanimate creatures. Peggy is a master of her craft, and seeing what she brought was so inspiring in itself. I could have just pointed the camera at her outfits and had a captivating video."
"Defenders" is from Tilly and the Wall's new album, Heavy Mood, which comes out Oct. 2.