I had been looking for the words that I have found in “Lavender” since high school. I grew up in a small, conservative, rich town where hair dye, fingernail polish and sodomy would turn a boy into a pariah. A town where I spent my afternoons in the boys the locker room, asking myself, “Why? Why this body, in this era?”.
I’ve written a hundred songs, at least, attempting to convey that teenage feeling; that I could be loved if only I were a woman. The feeling that there is no escape. How some us never get to leave that town, finding ourselves falling in love time and time again with people that society says will never love us back.
Reflecting on my adolescence, I began to finally carve out that experience with producer, engineer and fellow band mate Burak Yerebakan in his Culver City studio.
It was the perfect time to make this work.
When I met with producer, Luka Fisher over coffee one day, she told me she was deeply moved when she saw me perform “Lavender” at Corinne Loperfido’s Next Level a week prior to our meeting. I remember I performed that night nude, beneath a translucent skirt while wearing Corinne Loperfido’s custom orange 12 ft. wig and body harness made of chandelier jewels. Adorned with a choral crown, I embodied what was at the time, my brand new composition.
Luka proceeded to tell me what she envisioned that night during my performance: Flashes of 16mm family films, a reminder of her own journey through gender and sexual identity.
Luka, being inspired by my performance, worked relentlessly alongside my best friend, patron, and executive producer — Royce Burke (Wyldefire Hot Sauce) on a shoestring budget to bring the “Lavender” video to fruition.
When we needed a director, Luka suggested I work with Matthew Kundart, whom she had introduced me to a month prior to beginning this project. When we needed a cinematographer, I knew it had to be Terrance Stewart, who is a wonderful friend of mine as well as the director of photography for our video Fault.
Burak and I remained in his studio for months working out the arrangements for “Lavender,” and that’s when I began seeing images in my mind of a dance, which was brought to life by the incredible choreographer, Isabelle Sjahsam. When I approached Isabelle to discuss the tone for Lavender, I reflected on “Fault” — Crook’s debut music video and single: “I want to continue telling the story that we began with “Fault,” but I think this time, we need to address something deeper than simply hiding, we need to address a conflict that you and I both, are all too familiar with. This song is about the inability to perform our genders in the way society, our lovers or our families expect. It’s a response.” “Fault” was a representation of an “argument” I was having at the time with a friend who was deep in the closet. It was inspired by my attempt to guide him out and show him his power.
“Lavender” is surrounded by the same mythos of self-doubt and internalized homophobia that surrounds “Fault,” only “Lavender” is more personal and within the context of my current relationship with Christian Burke — my lover and my costar in the video. I became inspired by his struggle.
We had been in a secret relationship for a little over a year, and Christian was ready to come out of the closet. His coming out process was excruciating. The chastity and guilt of the church had run his life until then and he was coping with his own vulnerability. I would be lying if I said it was easy for either of us to make something like this while the wounds were still fresh, but we did it, and thank the heavens we had one another through it all.
Annie Montgomery reprised her role in “Lavender” as what I consider to be the holy, omnipresent feminine. In “Fault,” she was lost and asleep but in “Lavender” she is very much awake. She stands tall, surrounded by her temple of light whilst Christian and I perform with and for one another in an attempt to seduce and invoke ourselves toward her brilliant light. We struggle past mans rebuke of femininity where it is easy to succumb to anger, violence and pride. In Lavender, you see us rip ourselves apart attempting to embody what it is we think makes us desirable: denying our own femininity.
Now, at the end of the making of “Lavender,” we are exhausted by our effort, waiting to make a decision: Are we good enough? Who says we can’t be?