By Meg Fair
Pittsburgh Current Managing Editor
There’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs in your mind when your brain gets stuck on a person. Be it a freshly separated partner or an eye-catching mysterious stranger, you see them everywhere. You see their characteristics in everything. It can make you question your own reality, that eerie sense of someone being both everywhere and nowhere. It can make you question what ‘real’ actually even means at all.
This dazed, dream-like existential crisis is audibly captured by the fuzzed out, slightly sinister track “Suspicion” by grungy psychedelic rock band Bat Zuppel, from its 2018 release MIRROR|RORRIM. Just shy of a year from the album’s release, the band is releasing a music video that takes this phenomenon and brings it to visual life through a western lens.
A group of cowboys (played by the members of Bat Zuppel) go about their day-to-day business, but one of these cowfolk, played by singer and guitarist Zach Bronder, keeps seeing a mysterious stranger everywhere. But is she real? Is she a figment of the cowboy’s overactive imagination? Played by Karisa Sosnoski, this mysterious ‘Her’ is haunting and charming, a spectre whose intentions never quite clear.
The director, producer and editor Ben Hammock wanted these kinds of mind games and psychological tangle to be at the forefront of the video. “He’s seeing her in places. There’s this idea of, is this him being insane? Did she ever exist? Does she exist now? Is she somewhere else? Is she there? The more I started getting into the idea of the questions, we wanted to maximize the questions.”
The result is a disorienting, dreamy black and white video with spacious landscapes, fireside scenes and an open-ended conclusion for the viewer to interpret in their own way.
The music video was shot at Victory Stables in Apollo, PA. The band had been photographed there several months before shooting the video for promotional pictures taken by Shauna Miller. When coming up with a concept for the next video, the stables and land came instantly to mind.
“We thought the photos looked awesome, but we didn’t immediately think of the music video,” says Bronder. “[Guitarist Spencer Geer] and I had been texting, and we were like, ‘We should do a video with the cowboy concept. That’s when we took it to Ben.”
Hammock then storyboarded and built out the concept with his wife Sarah. When it came time to shoot, original photographer Miller joined the crew alongside Andre Pavlinko who had worked with Bat Zuppel on a prior music video for the song “Deja.”
Over the course of a weekend the band received a crash course in horse riding from Sandy Hobbs, one of the owners of the stables, and set off on its western adventure surrounded by cameras and drones for two 14 hour long days of shooting.
After all those hours of shooting and editing, the release of the video for “Suspicion” is a visual punctuation to the album cycle of MIRROR|RORRIM. The band sets off in October to record its next full-length, and the experience of producing such an intense visual has Bat Zuppel inspired to do more music videos for its next release.
The video will be viewable at Post-Trash.com at 10 a.m. on September 6th.