The video for the BK poet and songwriter’s new track—”a little bit Hail to the Thief, a little bit Lord of the Flies”—was shot in his “salve and second home” Prospect Park
“Let your worries disappear…”
It’s an idea that admittedly feels like a bit of a pipe dream in 2022… and has pretttttty much ever since, like, 2016. But if over the years there’s one place I’ve found where I can come close to this stressless state—particularly back in 2020, when I was no longer able to cope with horrifying headlines by sitting on a bar stool, commiserating with strangers and shaking my fist at the sky—it’s been Prospect Park. And I know I’m not alone in this regard.
While I’m sure people visit parks in Chicago and Charlotte and St. Louis and insert-big-city-here, no one appreciates these green globs like the residents of NYC. In a notoriously expensive city, these spaces offer opportunities for recreation and relaxation without the cover charge, each serving as an everyman’s oasis where we can go to escape the chaos of the city and momentarily forget the world’s woes, our personal problems and the overall extent of our urban existence.
Beyond being an escape, these designated areas also serve as destinations, democratic spaces that everyone and anyone can utilize in their own way, whether by working out or making out, flying a kite or getting high as a kite, playing sports or—of course—playing music.
In NYC, any place can serve as a stage, and the city’s parks have long functioned as free rehearsal spaces and al fresco concert venues, where lucky visitors can have their dates soundtracked by saxophone and their walks enhanced by the strumming sounds of an acoustic guitar. Beyond that, they’ve also served as film sets, and with that I’m thrilled to premiere the most soothing video and perhaps the most magical and lovely sounding use of the scenic setting that is Prospect Park that I’ve ever encountered.
From Miles Hewitt, this is “Art of War.”
I first encountered Miles as an artist through his former project The Solars, whose 2021 single “Thanks For The GIfts, But Those Groves Are Now Myths” I covered on Bands do BK nearly a year ago. While it sounds very(!) different than Miles’ stripped-down park performance above, there are some parallels. For instance, “How long you gonna keep runnin’ headfirst into that tree, girl…”—lyrics from that single, which also features the sound of chirping birds—obviously ties into the forested setting of this video, while the Solars’ Bandcamp bio, “Let your worries disappear,” mimics the first line of “Art of War” (and this blog post).
That’s all to say that I appreciate Miles in all his musical forms—past, present and future—and these commonalities highlight an environment-oriented theme and an exploration of space that seem to thread throughout his music. Ahead of this release, the talented artist sent over some thoughts on not just this new track but also his forthcoming album and how his songs strive to explore one of humanity’s primary predicaments:
“A little bit Hail to the Thief, a little bit Lord of the Flies. This album (Heartfall, out this year) explores both apocalypse and miracle: the seeming inevitability of the former, our yearning for the latter. Maybe vice-versa too. On that level, I think there are two singers in ‘Art of War,’ or maybe the singer and the song, which sings back to him: ‘Cry baby don’t you cry,’ ‘The vinyl skips, the oil slicks.’ When I started writing these songs, I was interested in whether it was possible to blend my standard rock-based writing style with ambient music, which I was then starting to explore—Eno, Midori Takada, Yoshimura—and though that didn’t really end up the final goal on the record, I think that feeling remains whenever I play these songs solo. The openness and non-resolution of the chords on this song struck me as an intriguing challenge in minimalism—it seems to me that how to take up as little space, consume the least resources, leave the smallest impact, is (was always?) humanity’s central dilemma, which I see played out in our music.”
In addition to the insights above, Miles also discussed the setting of the video, the aforementioned outdoor sanctuary that’s extremely precious to so many Brooklynites.
“My dear friends Rita Iovine and Alma MacBride helped me shoot this video, along with a handful of other songs, in Prospect Park—which leads me to my favorite place in Brooklyn… these songs were originally written in the woods of western Massachusetts, and the ‘forest’ of Prospect Park is about the closest I get now that I’ve moved south. I’ve spoken [to] Bands do BK about the specialness of this area for me—it became my salve and second home in the spring of 2020.”
While the park is pure magic, you have the opp to catch Miles in a slightly less woodsy setting on February 4th (next Friday!), when he hits the stage of The Bowery Electric on a bill with Washburn and the River and Breachway (tickets available here).
While I don’t guarantee all your worries will disappear, with the help of Miles’ music—and a little fresh air—I do think you can send them away on vacation. At least for a little while.
Follow Miles at @milespeabodyhewitt and sign up for his newsletter here!
Feature image (provided by the artist): Rita Iovine