Austin folk outfit The Deer adds a healthy dose of whimsy to their psychedelic folk with their new music video for “Swoon.” The video follows the dreamlike journey of a woman after she travels through a wardrobe and discovers a lush green paradise hidden just beyond reality. But all is not as perfect as it seems — she’s quickly immersed in the hostility simmering between the combative cat and dog inhabitants of the forest, who all don Wes Anderson-esque animal masks. In a storyline reminiscent of Shakespeare, the tension boils over following the romance of a cat and dog.
The Deer are no strangers to mixing seemingly opposite elements. On their fourth album, Do No Harm, the band blends a myriad of genres — folk, psychedelic rock, dream pop — into catchy and cohesive tracks. Look no further than the song title of “Interstellar Frontier” to understand The Deer’s talent for wistfully spaced out soundscapes with a homegrown country appeal. Synth notes harmonize with rollicking fiddle and mandolin while frontwoman Grace Rowland’s voice floats gracefully above. The band is the creative effort of Rowland, upright bassist Jesse Dalton, guitarist Michael McLeod, drummer Alan Eckert and string player Noah Jeffries.
“Swoon” is the third single off Do No Harm, which was released in November 2019 on Keeled Scales.
Of the track, Rowland said, “‘Swoon’ is a song about what we perceive as opposites — dogs and cats, night and dawn, right and left — and is a metaphor for breaking the cycle of oppression. When we view each other as enemies, we take our eyes off of dismantling the larger structures that control us every day.”
Directors Zachary Scott and Drake Howard brought a playful touch to their vision for the video.
“Swoon has such a strong whimsical vibe. We wanted to match that by creating a world that felt like a dream. We took elements of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to explore the themes of the song,” the pair said. “We have two warring families, one of cats and one of dogs. Our protagonist finds herself stuck in the middle of this conflict, watching two star-crossed lovers be punished for their love.”
The video pulls from these familiar stories and expansive themes but zeroes in on the personal nature of the conflict by showing it through the eyes of a newcomer. Closely framed shots display the protagonist’s emotions, and lingering slow motion adds to the direness of the situation. The bright setting and storybook aesthetic grant a levity to the subject matter, creating a surreal effect for the heroine and viewer alike.
In the wake of SXSW’s cancellation, The Deer will still be playing a number of showcases the upcoming week. The band performs at 2 p.m. during the free Black Fret day party on Thursday, March 19 at Shady Grove. On Friday, March 20, they’ll play at 6 p.m. at Central Machine Works and at 9 p.m. during the Keeled Scales showcase at Radio Coffee & Beer. You can also catch the Deer’s 11 p.m. set during the Nine Mile Records showcase at Beerland on Saturday, March 21.
— Annie Lyons, KUTX