TOP POPS! Shameboy, Rebeka, XUXA Santamaria (Video Premiere)

Music video premiere for XUXA Santamaria’s “Belshazzar”, which was inspired by the 1916 Kenneth Anger film, Intolerance. Also: tracks from Belgium’s Shameboy featuring Max Marshall and Poland’s Rebeka.

TOP POPS! is a a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, to keep you on your dancing, shaking toes. +++ ALL TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

Shameboy (ft. Max Marshall) – “Trippin”

When I first came across the young UK producer duo Bondax, I knew instantly that they were musicians to pay attention to. With his first release since 2010, Shameboy, aka Belgian producer Luuk Cox, has crafted a noteworthy single that gives me a similar sense of promise. Featuring vocals from Max Marshall, “Trippin” is a soothing slow-burner that demands repeat listens and provides a brilliant backbone for what can only imagine are a slew of incoming dancefloor-ready remixes. If this is Cox’s first release in five years, I imagine there are some other exciting things that he’s sleeping on.

XUXA Santamaria – “BELSHAZZAR” Track & Video Premiere

Oakland, California’ XUXA Santamaria first entered our field of vision in early 2014, when we were researching for our epic feature on bi-lingual English and Spanish-speaking musicians (which is a bi-lingual article itself, mind you). Well, they’ve caught our attention again. Since the post-SXSW week of March 23rd, the duo of Sofía Córdova and Matt Kirkland have been releasing a track a week from their latest six-track mixtape, BILLIONAIR RAINBOW, which is a meditation on money and power, and the duo’s relationship to them.

How appropriate for REDEFINE that the video we get to premiere is one which references and samples from Kenneth Anger’s retelling of the 1916 DW Griffith film, Intolerance. Says Córdova about the video for “Belshazzar”, a track which is named after the last king of Babylon:

“In keeping with the theme of money and power, I was particularly interested by the making of Intolerance which is one of the costliest movie productions of its time… The song is indeed meta with the chorus roughly translating to ‘Action! Action! Action! Shouted the Director, Action! Action! Action! He who did not free us’ as a play on both the power of the director and also, in tying it to the themes of the mixtape, the power of ‘the man in charge’. Belshazzar was the last king of Babylon (which is of course, shorthands as excess in all sorts of contexts). The Persians bring war to him, as evidenced in the film) and so he and his universe presented a perfect metaphoric bubble to flesh out the disparities of power, influence and money: he is having these lavish parties that are built on the backs of slaves and that being destroyed in a violent act; the director is building this insane production which is built on the back of extras. That said, we’re not a band to be too literal so here are the lyrics translated. It’s a bit more magical realism and super meta (the already meta world of movies layered on top of a historical narrative).”

Kirkland adds some commentary on the track and record, more generally:

“Obviously, like most people, we’re deeply conflicted about our place inside these systems — both raging against their injustices and feeling trapped and powerless while simultaneously feeling their allure and reveling some aspects of those same systems… We obviously aren’t interested in being didactic about these themes, but they’re present in all of the lyrics…

“[‘Belshazzar’ is] basically like a dream vision of the excess and splendor of early hollywood, sung from the viewpoint of an extra on the movie set but also flashing on the ancient Babylon that the set is replicating. The scene becomes a strange simulacrum of the world that it is fictionalizing: the director as a king and the extras as slaves, the king’s palace in babylon mirrored by a lavishly built wooden replica, the landscape of Babylon at the dawn of civilization recreated in the desert outside of Los Angeles. The track has a gauzy, psychedelic blur to it, to underline that rather than being a straight narrative, it’s more of a dreamlike floating view of this strange moment; imagine the chorus being sung by a chorus of extras, who are walking further and further away at the end of the song as our viewpoint floats up and away from the action.”

More details are on the band’s website, and you can download the MP3 for free below!

Rebeka – “With Tears We Cry” & “Fail” & “Breath”

Polish musicians Rebeka know how to balance soulful vocals with percussive experimentation and just a general sense of restrained madness. These three tracks come from their latest EP, Breath, and all tread the line between mainstream and indie while showing off the band’s shape-shifting abilities. (You can also watch the video for “Breath” here.)


Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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